Senator Kevin de León was elected to serve the 22nd Senate District in November 2010. The district includes all or parts of the City of Los Angeles, Alhambra, East Los Angeles, Florence-Graham, Maywood, San Marino, South Pasadena, Vernon, and Walnut Park.
Senator De León has spent a lifetime fighting to empower working families and the poor—as a community organizer, English as a Second Language and U.S. Citizenship teacher, and an advocate for public schools. During his five years at the California Teachers Association, De León fought for additional funding for “high-priority schools” in low-income neighborhoods, more school construction, and health insurance for children.
As a Senior Associate for the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C., De León advocated for more resources for schools in low-income neighborhoods. He also coordinated a team that fought schemes to take funds from public schools in the form of taxpayer-funded vouchers. At the NEA he also thwarted efforts to impose academic censorship on public school teachers.
Shortly after completing his freshman term in the Assembly, De León was appointed Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee making him the first Latino Chair of this fiscal committee in the last one hundred years. The Appropriations Committee is responsible for reviewing all bills with a fiscal impact. As a result, virtually every bill goes to the Appropriations Committee making it the single most powerful committee in the Assembly.
In addition to his leadership responsibilities while an Assemblymember, Senator De León served on several important policy committees including Health, Natural Resources, Governmental Organization and the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media committee. De León also served on the Joint Committee for Emergency Services and Homeland Security and several select committees including the Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Growth Management, International Trade, and the Preservation of California’s Entertainment Industry select committee.
In addition to his focus on improving public schools, De León is committed to improving the air quality in his district, which is criss-crossed by six freeways and has some of the country’s worst air quality, as well as expanding park space in critically underserved communities. De León authored legislation that was later inserted into an omnibus measure signed into law creating hundreds of millions of dollars available for alternative fuel research and development.
To improve access to park space to underserved communities, De León authored legislation signed into law in October by Governor Schwarzenegger establishing a needs-based competitive grants program for the distribution of $400 million in Proposition 84 funds for local park assistance and development. That measure will allocate the single largest investment in local park space creation in the nation’s history and will insure that those funds are targeted to areas with the highest needs. De León is also a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board, where he is putting his vision for creating green space in heavily-urbanized and park-starved communities to work.
De León has also authored innovative legislation to assist families without access to employer-based retirement plans save for retirement by putting one of the nation’s most respected institutional investors, CalPERS, to work for average working Californians. That measure would authorize CalPERS to offer Californians that do not have retirement plans available at work individual retirement accounts (IRA’s) to create a financial nest egg when they retire.
While walking neighborhoods during his first campaign De León stumbled across bullet casing on side walks just feet where children were playing and has ever since been determined to the get handgun ammunition that fuels this violence out of the hands of criminals and gang-bangers. Along with Sheriff Baca and LAPD Police Chief Bratton, De León has championed legislation to require handgun ammunition purchasers to acquire a permit showing they’ve passed a background check. That permit would cost less than a fishing license and would prevent an estimated half million rounds of ammunition being sold to criminals every year in this state.
Senator De León grew up in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He attended UC Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with Honors. He has one daughter.