Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)
California 34th District
A block from the 452-foot trademark white tower of the Los Angeles City Hall is the huge retail shopping street of Broadway. The sidewalks are thronged with Latinos, the signs are mostly in Spanish, and the merchandise is displayed on tables. This could be Mexico City or Lima. It is Latin America transplanted just a short walk from City Hall and the 60- and 70-story post-modern pink cylinders that define downtown L.A. these days. Broadway is neither the geographical nor spiritual center of Los Angeles’s Latino communities, and it is just one of many shopping and dining areas. But it is an emblem of the entry-level Latino neighborhoods of the nation’s second-largest city, the places where many immigrants, not only from Mexico but also from Central and South America, come to find a cheap place to live—doubling and tripling up with other families and single newcomers, close enough to drive an old car to work in factories and warehouses that fill the acreage south and east of downtown.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Broadway and many of these entry-level neighborhoods are part of the 34th Congressional District of California. It includes downtown and Boyle Heights, once an entry neighborhood for Irish and Jewish immigrants and for the last 40 years predominantly Mexican-American. Near the Hollywood Freeway is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the $190 million center of the nation’s largest and most ethnically diverse Roman Catholic archdiocese, which Cardinal Roger Mahony dedicated as an “anchor for the ages.” Another new landmark is the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The commercial revival has helped to reduce crime and spurred residential development in the central business district, with both new housing and renovations. The 34th also includes the giant factories south of downtown along the Southern Pacific Railroad and Santa Ana Freeway. And it takes in part of East Los Angeles.
To the south it includes the garment factories of Vernon and the 1940s working-class suburbs of Huntington Park, with its vibrant shopping strip on the wide Pacific Boulevard, Bell and Bell Gardens, Commerce, Maywood, and Cudahy, all of which are now heavily Latino. City officials have declared Maywood a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. Beyond those areas are the more affluent suburbs of Downey, home of the Boeing (formerly Rockwell) plant that built the space shuttle, and Bellflower, a formerly prime shopping area struggling for a comeback. Bisecting much of the district is the concrete-lined Los Angeles River. City officials plan to clean up the river and return it to a more natural condition, with adjacent parkland, while preserving its flood-control assets.
The 34th District is 80% Hispanic, the highest percentage in any California district, and 80% of the residents speak a language other than English at home. Politically, this area is heavily Democratic. It is not clear what the future political preferences of people here will be, for the large majority of adults here do not vote. In 2008, in a constituency of 654,000 people, only 143,000 voted in the general election, far fewer than the 344,000 who voted in the Westside 30th District or even the 237,000 who voted in the downtown 33rd District.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: June 12, 1941, Los Angeles .
Home: Los Angeles.
Education: CA State L.A., B.A. 1965.
Family: Married (Edward Allard); 4 children.
Elected office: CA Assembly, 1986–92.
The congresswoman from the 34th District is Lucille Roybal-Allard, first elected in 1992. She is the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to Congress. Roybal-Allard grew up in the Los Angeles area, the daughter of longtime U.S. Rep. Edward Roybal, who was the first Latino to serve on the Los Angeles City Council. She dreamed of a show business career as a teenager and later worked as a department store clerk and for nonprofit organizations. After raising a family—two of her children are lawyers—she followed her father into politics when she was 45 years old. She was elected to the California Assembly in 1986. Six years later, she ran for a newly created House district that took in much of the Los Angeles area that her father had represented for 30 years. Her father retired in 1992, the year she ran for the House. Roybal-Allard won easily with 75% of the vote in the primary and 63% in the general election.
|Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)||98,503||(77%)||($594,045)|
|Christopher Balding (R)||29,266||(23%)||($1,849)|
|Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)||12,622||(100%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (77%), 2004 (74%), 2002 (74%), 2000 (85%), 1998 (87%), 1996 (82%), 1994 (81%), 1992 (63%)
Roybal-Allard has compiled a solidly liberal voting record. On the Appropriations Committee, she has focused on immigration issues, and she has pushed aggressively for an immigration overhaul bill that would include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently in the country. The bill has not passed despite repeated attempts in recent years by members of both parties. In 2004, the House passed her amendment to prevent the privatizing of services for immigration information officers or investigators. With Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., she is the sponsor of the American Dream Act to provide a path to legal immigration for college-bound students. In the past, she also has pushed for in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants. Citing recent deaths in three immigration detention facilities, Roybal-Allard sponsored a proposal in February 2009 to compel the Homeland Security Department to set humane standards for people who are detained as part of immigration proceedings.
On local issues on the committee, Roybal-Allard secured $1.5 million for an AIDS clinical trials unit at the University of Southern California’s Medical Center and $1.1 million for a parking garage in the Fashion District.
On other issues, she won House passage of an amendment to allow breast-feeding in national parks and museums. As a curb on underage drinking, she has advocated higher taxes on alcohol and restraints on advertising. In 2006, she got the House to adopt more-modest measures in a bill that coordinates federal programs aimed at teen drinking and funds an education campaign about its dangers. In 2007, she co-sponsored with Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., a bill requiring employers to pay for personal protective equipment such as respirators, chemical resistant clothing, safety glasses, and face shields.
One of her recent successes was a bill enacted in 2008 that authorizes federal grants for newborn health screening for congenital, genetic, and metabolic disorders. She called the legislation “a giant step towards ensuring that parents and health providers are knowledgeable about newborn screening, and that babies receive the comprehensive and consistent testing they need.”
Unlike several other Democratic women in the California delegation, Roybal-Allard isn’t as close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her powerful inner circle, which sometimes limits her leverage in the House. In 2006, Roybal-Allard seconded the nomination Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland for majority leader, a public declaration of support for Hoyer against Pelosi’s preferred candidate, Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania. However, Hoyer won the contest, so Roybal-Allard still has a friend or two in high places.