A new report released Wednesday on Latina representation in California found that while representation has grown in some elected offices, it remains stagnant at some higher levels of government.
Latinas make up 20% of the population, and representation has fallen behind compared to the growth of the Latinas population, according to a report released by Hispanas Organized for Political Equity (HOPE).
It found that Congress has no Latina senators, and only four members of the House of Representatives are Latina, meaning that Latinas make up only 7% of California’s representation in Washington, DC
However, statewide, Latinas hold 23 of the 120 seats in the California State Legislature, making up 19% of these elected offices. The report said it was the most of any group among women and even among Latino men, with 15 seats in both houses.
Although Latinas have seen some gains in local government, representation still falls behind. Latinas represent only 4% of county supervisors in California’s 58 counties, but this number is actually an increase of nearly a third since 2015.
In school board seats, the report found that Latinas are well represented, making up 20% of seats in K-12 districts. In comparison, the report found that Latino men make up only 17% of school board seats.
For community colleges, nearly one in four, or 13%, of officers are Latina.
Felipa Penaloza, the report’s lead researcher, said it found several reasons for optimism.
“Many gains have been made by women and Latinas especially at the city council and school board levels, pushing for more representation in these bodies and building a strong bench of officers who may run for higher office in the future,” Penaloza said.
The report recommends improving Latina representation at the local level to build the next generation of state and local leaders. It also recommends paying attention to other avenues of elected office, as some sitting Latina legislators are prominent labor leaders and hold appointed positions in local government.