Alumna and former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was elected last week to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Solis, who is currently a scholar-in-residence at the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, was elected with more than 70 percent of the vote, according to semi-official results from the June 3 election.
“I have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish on the Board of Supervisors, and you can count on me to work greater accountability and transparency in your county government,” Solis said in a statement after the election.
She pledged to work to reform child protective services, transform the county jail system, create jobs, improve the environment and transportation, and increase affordable housing.
Solis will succeed Supervisor Gloria Molina in December, who is termed out after serving since 1991. She will represent the nearly 2 million residents in the 1st Supervisorial District, which spans 246 square miles and includes the cities of Alhambra, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Claremont, El Monte, Industry, La Puente, Pomona, Rosemead, Walnut, West Covina and parts of Los Angeles.
The Board of Supervisors serves as the executive and legislative body for the county. Each supervisor administers local government services to residents living in unincorporated areas within their district, much like a mayor does in an incorporated city.
The five supervisors also adopt laws and ordinances for the unincorporated areas and oversee an annual budget of more than $26 billion that pays for everything from public safety and social services to libraries and public works.
A La Puente native, Solis was the first in her family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal Poly Pomona in 1979.
She earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and worked in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs under President Jimmy Carter and later in the Office Management & Budget’s Civil Rights Division.
Her political career began when she was elected to the Rio Hondo Community College District Board of Trustees in 1985. Later, she was elected to the California State Assembly. In 1994, she became the first Latina elected to the California State Senate.
In the legislature, she served on committees dealing with higher education, environmental safety, labor and groundwater contamination and landfill leakage. She became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for getting a California law passed that established environmental protections for minority neighborhoods.
Solis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, where she made labor, immigration and the environment her key issues.
President-elect Barack Obama nominated her in 2008 to become secretary of labor. Upon her confirmation by the Senate, Solis became the first Latina to serve in a cabinet-level position.
She resigned in January 2013 to return to California and spend more time with her elderly mother. That November, she became a scholar-in-residence at Cal Poly Pomona, a position funded through the Hugh O. La Bounty Endowed Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied Knowledge.