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Alex Padilla is the proud son of immigrants.

Alex PadillaAlex Padilla was born March 22, 1973 at Kaiser Hospital in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.  His parents met in 1968 as immigrants from Mexico. It was practically love at first sight and the young couple got married and applied for green cards in that order.

Growing up, Alex’s mom and dad relentlessly emphasized the relationship between hard work and opportunity. With just an elementary school education, his dad started work as a dishwasher at a local diner and gradually worked his way up to become the head cook. He liked to boast that his kitchen “never failed an inspection.” His mom was a housekeeper and worked tirelessly for a group of families in the more affluent communities of Studio City and Sherman Oaks.

Padilla_familyFor most of Alex’s childhood, the family lived in a modest three-bedroom in Pacoima, just a block from one of the toughest street corners in all of Los Angeles where gang activity, prostitution and open-air drug dealing were rampant. The neighborhood was often awakened by the sound of sirens and gunfire. As Alex says, “it wasn’t the safest neighborhood, but at least we had a backyard.”

Alex attended LA public schools.  He managed to avoid trouble and gang life by finding his refuge in books and baseball. He earned his varsity letter on the baseball team as a senior at San Fernando High, the fourth pitcher in the rotation, a right-hander known for his change-up. The same year, his countless hours of study paid off and Alex earned admission to MIT to study mechanical engineering. He worked his way through college doing janitorial and administrative jobs while mentoring younger students back home in Pacoima to follow the same path.

voting on election dayIt was the conditions in his neighborhood growing up and the feeling that the Northeast Valley was always overlooked and left behind that awakened Alex’s political activism. As a teenager, he had helped organize neighbors to take back the streets from crime. At the age of 15, he joined his mother to protest environmental racism and demand closure of the Lopez Canyon Landfill. In 1994, after California voters passed Proposition 187, the sweeping anti-immigrant measure, his parents applied for citizenship and Alex, now a recent MIT graduate, resolved to put engineering and a job at Hughes Aircraft aside and dedicate his life to public service.

Demanding a fair share of opportunity for the people of the Northeast Valley, Alex was elected to the Los Angeles City Council as a political outsider at the age of 26. As a councilman, he expanded after school programs to serve 16 schools in his district, worked to reduce class sizes and built state-of-art libraries and museums in a community that had none. He recruited and retained local jobs and brought more job training programs to the Valley. And he fought to close and limit the expansion of the landfills that had plagued his community for so long, to clean up local air and water and to face climate change by requiring the city’s biggest polluter, the Department of Water and Power, to dramatically increase renewable energy.

Alex Padilla and Vice President BidenIn 2001, Alex’s colleagues elected him the youngest Council President in Los Angeles history. As President, Alex provided citywide leadership at critical times. He was Acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001.  He assisted 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, his colleagues made him President of the California League of Cities.

In 2006, Alex was elected to the State Senate to represent the more than 1.1 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, Padilla passed major legislation:

Alex Padilla and Senator Kamala HarrisAlex was sworn in as California’s first Latino Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 and pledged to bring more Californians into the democratic process as the state’s top elections official. With President Trump attacking immigrants and democracy, Alex has been a warrior for voting rights and the American Dream. He was re-elected in 2018 and received the most votes of any Latino elected official in the United States.

Since taking office, Alex has worked to make our elections more accessible and inclusive, while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting systems:

Alex lives with his wife Angela and their three sons in the San Fernando Valley.