Throughout his tenure in the California State Legislature, Senator Gilbert Cedillo has championed the issues of the working class and immigrant community in the district he represents and across California. In 1998, Gilbert Cedillo won a seat representing the 46th California State Assembly District, which encompasses downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, and Huntington Park, in a special election. Cedillo quickly emerged as a leader in state government where he became Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and served as Assistant Majority Leader.
In 2002, he was elected to the 22nd California State Senate District, which encompasses the diverse cities of Los Angeles, Alhambra, Maywood, San Marino, Vernon, and South Pasadena. He currently sits on the powerful Senate Rules Committee, Chairs both the California Latino Legislative Caucus and the Select Committee on Immigration and the Economy, and as a member of Appropriations, Health, Public Safety, and Transportation and Housing Committees.
A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, he grew up in Boyle Heights. His father worked at American Can in Vernon, where he was a member of the United Steelworkers of America, and his mother was a garment worker. Cedillo attended Roosevelt High School, UCLA for his undergraduate studies, and received a Juris Doctorate degree from the People’s College of Law.
Long before being elected to the Legislature, Cedillo has advocated on behalf of the immigrant community and the working class. Through his ties with labor unions and community organizations, he actively organized an opposition campaign to Proposition 187, California’s 1994 initiative to ban public benefits such as health care and education to undocumented immigrants. His efforts culminated in a 150,000-person march, one of the largest mass marches in the history of Los Angeles.
Cedillo is best known for his tireless commitment to passing legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. His determination and commitment to this issue has garnered him significant respect from his colleagues and from individuals throughout the nation. Senator Cedillo’s passions also extend to issues of homelessness, transportation, access to health care, veterans’ issues, and financial aid for undocumented immigrant students, among many others.
His commitment to the working class grew out of his experiences in the labor movement where he served as General Manager of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 660, from 1991 to 1996, Los Angeles County’s largest union representing nearly 50,000 workers. As General Manager, he led the “Rolling Thunder” campaign, a series of one-day strikes throughout Los Angeles County, in a monumental struggle to preserve jobs and benefits, and prevent the dismantling of the county’s public health system. Cedillo was credited for saving thousands of jobs and keeping the county’s public health system afloat by securing $364 million in federal assistance.
One of the political scene’s most interesting and promising personalities, Cedillo is a remarkable person and skilled politician. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments such as the Political Empowerment Award by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Henry Fiering Union Advocacy Award by the Jewish Labor Committee and a Local Impact Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Senator Cedillo can always be counted on as a tireless advocate for our nation’s underrepresented communities.