Meet Alex

Alex Padilla is the proud son of immigrants.

Alex Padilla was born and raised in the proud working class community of Pacoima in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. He is the proud son of immigrant parents who came to the United States from Mexico in pursuit of the American Dream.

Santos and Lupe Padilla instilled in Alex and his siblings the values of service to others and of getting a good education. For 40 years, Alex’s dad worked as a short order cook. To this day, he boasts that his kitchen “never failed an inspection.” Alex’s mom cleaned houses for families in the more affluent communities of Los Angeles.

Alex grew up in a modest three-bedroom home in one of Los Angeles’ toughest neighborhoods where gang activity, prostitution and open-air drug dealing were rampant. The sounds of gunfire and sirens were almost daily events.

Alex attended local public schools. He managed to avoid trouble and gang life by finding refuge in books and baseball. He grew up playing baseball from little league through varsity his senior year at San Fernando High School. Alex earned admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he earned a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Growing up, Alex always felt that his community was often overlooked and underserved. This experience fueled Alex’s political activism. In the 1980s, Alex’s family helped organize neighbors to take back the streets from crime. As a teen, Alex would join his mother to protest environmental injustice and demand closure of the Lopez Canyon Landfill. Finally, in 1994, as Proposition 187, a sweeping but unconditional anti-immigrant measure was approved by the voters of California, Alex resolved to put engineering career aside and dedicate his life to civic engagement and public service.

In 1999, Alex was elected to the Los Angeles City Council as a political outsider at the age of 26. As a member of the Los Angeles City Council, he expanded after school programs, worked to reduce class sizes, built new parks, expanded libraries, and brought a state-of-the-art children’s museum to his district. He also recruited and retained local jobs, brought more job training programs, fought to close and limit the expansion of landfills, and led the battle to force the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to dramatically increase the procurement of renewable energy.

In 2001, Alex’s colleagues elected him the youngest and first Latino Council President in the history of the city of Los Angeles. As Council President, Alex provided citywide leadership at critical times. He was Acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001. He participated in the interview and selection of William Bratton as Chief of Police and helped negotiate the approval of LA Live and the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport. In 2005, he was also elected President of the California League of Cities.

In 2006, Alex was elected to the California State Senate where he represented the more than 1 million people in the San Fernando Valley. As a Senator, he would go on to pass more than 70 bills. Around the Capitol named Padilla one of Sacramento’s “Most Effective Legislators” for his ability to “cross ideological lines, take on big bills and keep warring parties within the caucus.”

Over two terms as State Senator, Padilla authored dozens of pieces of landmark legislation:

  • Fighting climate change & protecting our environment: He passed legislation increasing California’s renewable energy standards, expanding clean-tech manufacturing and solar power, developing clean fuels, and modernizing the electrical grid. He also passed the nation’s first statewide ban on single use plastic bags.
  • Expanding educational opportunity: He passed bills to bridge the digital divide, expand access to college, help English Language Learners reach language proficiency, and better protect student athletes.
  • Building healthier communities: He fought for universal health care, cracked down on the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors, combat the diabetes and obesity epidemics, strengthened patient protections, and improved food safety.
  • Increasing gun safety: He passed common-sense gun safety reforms like improving the ability to track stolen guns and stopping felons from possessing body armor.
  • Harnessing technology and innovation: Educated as an engineer, he fought for the ethical advancement of science and technology. He authored legislation to protect Californians from discrimination based on their genetic information and wrote the bill mandating the deployment of a statewide Earthquake Early Warning System.

Alex was sworn in as California Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 with a pledge to bring more Californians into the democratic process. With President Trump attacking immigrants and democracy, Alex became a national leader in defense of voting rights and the American Dream.

As California’s Chief Elections Officer, Alex worked to make elections more accessible, inclusive, and secure.

  • More than 22 million voters: Under Alex’s leadership voter registration reached an all-time high, with more than 22 million Californians registered to vote, the highest rate in nearly 70 years.
  • Expanded access to the ballot: Alex implemented innovative reforms like automatic voter registration, same-day registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds, and the Voter’s Choice Act, a modern election model which offers voters more options for when, where, and how to vote including vote-by-mail and in-person early voting.
  • Protected our elections: Alex oversaw a historic investment in the upgrade of voting systems statewide to better protect against hacking, fraud and manipulation. Voting system security requirements in California are now the strongest in the nation.

Alex and his wife Angela are raising their three sons in the San Fernando Valley.