By The New York Times
He was appointed to fill Kamala Harris’s seat and will take office as his state struggles with record Covid rates, especially in the neighborhood he grew up in.
As Kamala Harris steps into her role as vice president and out of her Senate office this week, the Democrat Alex Padilla will become the first Latino senator from California, a state where Latino residents make up 40 percent of the population, and will be one of six in the Senate. Mr. Padilla, who has been California’s secretary of state since 2015, is heading to Washington at a time when the country — and California — is deeply mired in the pandemic and a sluggish vaccine rollout. His own political career began with
(Image Credit -Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
immigration activism, and he believes that the country needs a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. He said he was confident that the Senate would be able to focus on an impeachment trial and the pressing need to get the pandemic under control — “we will walk and chew gum at the same time.”
These are lightly edited excerpts from the conversation.
California is roughly 40 percent Latino, yet you’re the first Latino senator from the state. Why do you think that took so long? What does it say about California and the political influence of Latinos?
I don’t know if I have a 170-year answer to that question, but it’s a big moment for the Latino community in California. I’m sure there’s a lot of researchers and academics with various theories. I just know that it has just added to the sense of urgency with which I’m prepared to tackle the job.
A lot of big issues need attention — increasing access to health care, combating climate change, a comprehensive immigration reform, closing the education gap. But for the time being, it’s all through the lens of Covid, in recognition of the devastation the damage has caused for far too many families, far too many communities, especially Latino communities and other communities of color.
Let’s talk about the pandemic. Los Angeles is currently an epicenter of the pandemic, and Pacoima, the neighborhood you grew up in, is an epicenter of that epicenter. What can the Senate do about that?
Read the full article at The New York Times.