Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2012, 2nd term.

Born: March 31, 1963, Pacoima

Home: Los Angeles

Education: University of California (Santa Barbara), B.A., 1986

Professional Career: Real-estate broker, 1987-96; life-insurance salesman, 1986-87; electrical engineer, Hewlett-Packard, 1986

Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino

Religion: Christian

Family: Married (Norma) , 4 children

Democrat Tony Cárdenas is the first Latino congressman to represent Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. The former Los Angeles City Council member was elected in 2012 from a new, heavily Latino 29th District.

As the youngest of 11 children of Mexican immigrant parents, Cárdenas was born and raised in the Valley city of Pacoima. His father was a self-employed gardener who would take young Cárdenas and his brothers to work with him. While still a teenager, Cárdenas got his first paid job at San Fernando Valley’s Boys & Girls Club through a summer work program. “Every time I got paid, I would give my parents money. I would save some money, and I would have a little money to spend,” he recalled in an interview with National Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1986. “I wasn’t the student body this, student body that. I was not much into running for office,” Cárdenas said. He subsequently went to work for Hewlett-Packard but left just five months later. “There has to be something different for me,” he said he remembered thinking.

He returned home to Pacoima to live with his parents and sold life insurance for a year, then worked selling real estate for five years before opening his own brokerage firm in the San Fernando Valley. During that time, the Valley had become more Latino—but, he observed, political representation did not mirror that change. One day, a friend suggested that he run for political office. He did, and in 1996 became the first Latino to represent the Valley in the state’s 39th Assembly District.

Cárdenas became known for his work to reform the state’s gang prevention and intervention programs. In 2000, the state legislature passed a bill he co-sponsored authorizing funding for local juvenile justice programs in the state’s 58 counties. Cárdenas says he became interested in gang-intervention programs after many of his childhood friends had run-ins with the law, lamenting, “They weren’t exactly living a life that we had dreamed of.” During its first year, the program was funded for $121 million. It has been funded ever since, although sometimes at slightly lower levels.

In 2003, Cárdenas won a seat on the Los Angeles City Council representing the Sixth District, where he has continued to work on gang prevention. He also was active in creating opportunities for minority-owned businesses to compete for the city’s bond underwriting work. And he pushed for policies to fight human trafficking and prevent the mistreatment of animals.

When he decided to run for Congress, Cárdenas was a strong favorite among Democrats, and he received 64% of the vote in the primary. His closest competitor was “No Party Preference” candidate David Hernandez, an insurance adjuster and Vietnam veteran. In California’s new “jungle” election system, the top two finishers in the primary advance to the general election regardless of party, so Cárdenas faced Hernandez again in the fall.

Hernandez, a perennial candidate for office, criticized Cárdenas for touting his Latino roots. A message on Hernandez’s Facebook page said, “Tony Cárdenas wants to be the first Latino congressman from the San Fernando Valley. David Hernandez wants to be the congressman who represents and brings prosperity to the area which has … suffered under failed leadership.” But in the Democratic district, the attacks barely resonated, and Cárdenas won, 74% to 26%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6131

(202) 225-0819

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1510
Washington, DC 20515-0529

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6131

(202) 225-0819

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1510
Washington, DC 20515-0529

DISTRICT OFFICE

(818) 781-7407

(818) 781-7462

8134 Van Nuys Boulevard Suite 206
Panorama City, CA 91402-4820

DISTRICT OFFICE

(818) 781-7407

(818) 781-7462

8134 Van Nuys Boulevard Suite 206
Panorama City, CA 91402-4820

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

3700 Wilshire Boulevard Suite 1050-B
Los Angeles, CA 90010

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

3700 Wilshire Boulevard Suite 1050-B
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Paul Kincaid
Communications Director

Agriculture

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Nigel Sanchez
Congressional Aide

Animal Rights

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Esperanza Guevara
Legislative Correspondent

Arts

Anna Hevia
Legislative Assistant

anna.hevia@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6131

Banking

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Crime

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Economics

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gabriela Marquez
District Director

Education

Anna Hevia
Legislative Assistant

anna.hevia@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6131

Jaqueline Serrano
Field Representative

Jenny Rayas
Constituent Services Specialist

Entertainment

Kenny Lasalle
Constituent Services Specialist

Environment

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Kenny Lasalle
Constituent Services Specialist

Family

Anna Hevia
Legislative Assistant

anna.hevia@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6131

Finance

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Nigel Sanchez
Congressional Aide

Foreign

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Esperanza Guevara
Legislative Correspondent

Grants

Brian Gavidia
Field Representative

Kenny Lasalle
Constituent Services Specialist

Gun Issues

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Health

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Nigel Sanchez
Congressional Aide

Homeland Security

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Jenny Rayas
Constituent Services Specialist

Housing

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Human Rights

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Immigration

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Internet

Paul Kincaid
Communications Director

Judiciary

Virginia Zigras
Chief of Staff; Counsel

Anna Hevia
Legislative Assistant

anna.hevia@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6131

Brian Gavidia
Field Representative

Labor

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Jaqueline Serrano
Field Representative

Military

Katherine Pereira
Legislative Assistant

Kenny Lasalle
Constituent Services Specialist

Recreation

Paul Kincaid
Communications Director

Science

Paul Kincaid
Communications Director

Seniors

Esperanza Guevara
Legislative Correspondent

Jaqueline Serrano
Field Representative

Small Business

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gabriela Marquez
District Director

Social Security

Esperanza Guevara
Legislative Correspondent

Technology

Paul Kincaid
Communications Director

Telecommunications

Anna Hevia
Legislative Assistant

anna.hevia@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6131

Trade

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gabriela Marquez
District Director

Transportation

Miguel Franco
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Kenny Lasalle
Constituent Services Specialist

Veterans

Brian Gavidia
Field Representative

Women

Jacqueline Usyk
Senior Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Tony Cárdenas
Votes: 111,287
Percent: 74.05%
David Hernandez
Votes: 38,994
Percent: 25.95%
2012 PRIMARY
Tony Cárdenas
Votes: 24,882
Percent: 64.39%
David Hernandez
Votes: 8,382
Percent: 21.69%
Richard Valdez
Votes: 5,379
Percent: 13.92%

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