September 25, 2023
On January 20, 2021, Alejandro “Alex” Padilla was sworn into the United States Senate by Vice President Kamala Harris, becoming the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate. Senator Padilla lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Angela and their three sons.
Born on March 22, 1973, Senator Padilla is the proud son of Mexican immigrants, his father a short-order cook and his mother a housekeeper. He grew up in Pacoima, Los Angeles and graduated from San Fernando High School. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1994, where he was president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
Senator Padilla’s first professional role in politics was as a personal assistant to Senator Dianne Feinstein. On July 1, 1999, at age 26, Padilla was sworn in as a member of the Los Angeles City Council. Two years later, he was elected as council president, becoming the fist Latino and the youngest person elected president in the council’s history. Padilla provided citywide leadership at critical times in this capacity, including serving as acting Mayor during the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
After retiring as council president, Padilla was elected to California’s State Senate in 2006 to represent the more than 1.1 million people in the San Fernando Valley. In August 2012, Padilla was included in a list of 20 Latino political rising stars compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle, citing his role in the NALEO. On April 11, 2013, Padilla announced his intention to run for California secretary of state in 2014.
On January 5, 2015, Padilla was sworn in as California’s first Latino Secretary of State, and was re-elected in 2018, receiving the most votes of any Latino elected official in the United States. As Secretary of State, Padilla worked to make elections more accessible and inclusive, while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting systems. In December 2020, Padilla was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to finish Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s term as senator, making him California’s first Hispanic senator and the first male U.S. senator from California since 1993.
Senator Padilla served the final two years of Vice President Harris’s term. He won his run for a full term in the 2022 elections. While in office, Senator Padilla has introduced legislation to add more legal protections for various public lands in California. He has also introduced legislation to help coastal communities adapt shorelines to increased flooding and erosion from sea level rise and extreme weather.
Senator Padilla has achieved many “firsts,” and he’s clearly not done yet. He is a trailblazer and role model not only for Latinos, but for all Angelenos seeking to achieve the American dream.