Yesterday I had the opportunity to see one of the more revered and respected Latinas in public office, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at a small event at Los Angeles Trade-Tech College. The Secretary appeared after Mayor Villaraigosa and Senator Boxer addressed a classroom sized gathering of organizers and activists. The event was sponsored by Organizing for America, the community organizing effort that helped propel Barack Obama into office but now works to help push his legislative agenda through congress.
I will be posting some photos from the event within the next few days. One key point that was made by Organizing for America California Director Mary Jane Stevenson was that 60% of Latinos who voted in 2008 indicate that they intend to come back to the polls in this year’s midterm election. Hopefully, our community can exceed this estimation, as midterm elections are just as important as presidential year elections.
The politico portion of the event started with Mayor Villaraigosa, who talked about 30/10 initiative, which is the City’s plan to build 30 years of transportation projects within ten years. He also talked about how when he goes to Washington, D.C., he lobbies Senator Boxer and always finds her to be accessible and approachable, ready to work on behalf of Angelenos and Californians. Essentially, Villaraigosa was present to introduce Senator Boxer, and he was rather casually dressed in a short sleeved pink shirt. He also appeared to be in some pain as he was stretching is elbow from his recent bicycle crash.
Senator Boxer then addressed the room and basically made an appeal to the organizers that she needs their help to be her “spokespeople” in the upcoming election. Senator Boxer mentioned three key accomplishments that she’s particularly proud of: her role in the creation of the federal after school program, bringing the first combat casualty center to California (which is in San Diego and was the only other center after Walter Reed Hospital of this kind), and doubling transportation funding for California.
Senator Boxer also talked about her opponent’s critique of her hair. Carly Fiorina was caught on an open microphone back in June saying that Senator Boxer’s hair was “so yesterday,” and Boxer took an opportunity to say that Fiorina’s policies are “yesterday” meaning that they are a throwback to the Bush era. Some key points that Boxer highlighted were her support of the HIRE Act, her support of the small business bill that has a deficit neutral rating and would create a half million new jobs, that Fiorina doesn’t support a woman’s right to chose, and that Fiorina still supports more offshore oil drilling despite the BP disaster. Senator Boxer also noted that Fiorina was fired from Hewlett Packard and left the company in a state of low morale and with rising stock because of the hope that a new leader would be better.
To close the speaker portion of the event, Secretary Solis addressed the group and noted that 3.6 million jobs have been saved because of the stimulus. Saved jobs means that there are fewer unemployment checks for her department to cut. Solis also mentioned that when she was in Congress she was well aware of the layoff and jobs situation but that the previous administration was not attentive to the issue.
Solis highlighted three immediate goals that she has: to save jobs, to generate more good paying jobs, and to make sure that people have the ability to collectively bargain in the workplace. She also talked about generating more jobs in wind and solar energy with companies that will keep the manufacturing here in the US.
Overall, I thought that Secretary Solis was the star of this small event, but Senator Boxer was a pretty close second. Both appeared to be more prepared than Mayor Villaraigosa, but then again, both Solis and Boxer are regulars on the national stage. Secretary Solis and Boxer both personally thanked as many people as they could approach in the room for attending the event with handshakes, and Secretary Solis was very attentive in listening to the concerns of the organizers. Once the politicians left, the organizers were left in the room to strategize for the upcoming elections.