Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in the largest state of the union. Today, nearly 40 percent of all California residents are of Latino origin – a number that will only grow over the coming decades. The future of California and the future of its Latino population are one in the same. But when we look at some of the economic and political trends among California’s 14 million Latino residents, there are troubling signs for our community, and for our state’s future.
On February 1, the California Latino Economic Institute hosted its inaugural forum and lunch program at the Sutter Club in Sacramento. The event drew over 130 attendees including business leaders, legislators, constitutional officers and prominent media outlets and included a presentation and panel discussion on how Latinos participated in the 2016 general election with emphasis on how those trends may manifest during the California gubernatorial primary in 2018.
The forum featured leading California experts on Latino politics, policy and business, including former State Assembly Speaker John Perez, Sempra Energy Executive Vice President Dennis Arriola, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa concluded the day-long forum with a keynote address focusing on the importance of restoring economic mobility to all Californians. During his address, Mr. Villaraigosa said:
“Because our idealism is tempered by the reality of too much poverty and too few economic opportunities, our focus on growing the middle class will create wealth and opportunity for everyone. This is not just a Latino moment; this is a California moment, and indeed, an American moment.”
The forum received ample coverage in the days following:
David Siders. “Villaraigosa, in his first major speech, focuses on Latinos and inequality.” Politico, 2 Feb. 2017
Christopher Cadelago, “Antonio Villaraigosa talks about inequality and Mexican heritage: ‘There are actually two Californias.’” Sacramento Bee, 1 Feb. 2017
Christopher Cadelago, “Villaraigosa concerned Trump’s immigration action will harm L.A.’s Olympics bid.” Sacramento Bee, 1 Feb. 2017
Phil Willon, “Former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa warns that Trump's policies could be dire for California.” Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2017
“Voto Latino.” YouTube, uploaded by Telemundo Sacramento, 1 Feb. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3VuDdaY04A