Cristina Garcia (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cristina Garcia
Garcia headshot.jpg
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 58th district
Assumed office
December 3, 2012
Preceded by Constituency established
Personal details
Born (1977-08-22) August 22, 1977 (age 40)[1]
Bell Gardens, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Pomona College (BA)
Claremont Graduate University (MA)
University of Southern California

Cristina Garcia is an American politician serving in the California State Assembly. She is a Democrat representing the 58th Assembly District, which encompasses parts of southeastern Los Angeles County.

Early Life[edit]

Garcia was raised in Bell Gardens, California one of a number of largely Latino working-class suburbs in Southeast Los Angeles County, her parents, who were from Mexico, divorced when Garcia's mother was pregnant with her. Her mother worked making clothes in a sweatshop, raising her four children in a one bedroom apartment. Later, Garcia's mother started her own clothing manufacturing business and remarried. Investments in other businesses and properties followed, and though they were upwardly mobile, the family stayed in Bell Gardens. [2]

Prop 187 Opposition[edit]

By the time she was a junior in high school, Garcia was already taking an active role in politics, joining a classmate to register people to vote in a sunbaked supermarket parking lot. Speaking mostly Spanish to passers-by, their issue was opposition to Proposition 187, a statewide ballot measure championed by then-governor Pete Wilson that sought to establish a state run citizenship screening system and prohibit undocumented residents from receiving non-emergency health care, public education and other services in California. Although Prop 187 passed in November 1994, it was later found unconstitutional and never implemented.[3]


Growing up, Garcia was a self-described math nerd,[4] she went to Pomona College, where she studied both math and politics. She spent her junior year studying in Prague as the Czech Republic, after years of Soviet rule, took its first steps toward democracy in the wake of the Velvet Revolution.[2] Later, she earned a teaching credential and a master's degree from Claremont Graduate School, and is a doctoral candidate in public administration at USC.[3]

Early Career[edit]

After graduation, Cristina taught math and statistics for 13 years, first in a Los Angeles public high school, then at L.A. City College, and at USC where she taught statistics.[2]

Anti-Corruption Advocacy[edit]

After her mother suffered a heart attack in 2009, the thirty year-old Garcia moved back to Bell Gardens to help care for her parents (her stepfather was already struggling with diabetes), she has admitted to being frustrated with the move because, like many ambitious young people from the area, she had felt success meant "leaving and never coming back."[2]

Bell Gardens Activism[edit]

She complained regularly about the city's lack of services and economic development, until she took her sister's advice to stop griping and do something about it, she became a regular at City Council meetings, turning into an agitator and a gadfly. She studied budgets, learned how to make Public Records Act requests, tracked the compensation city officials received, and demanded fiscal responsibility.[2]

In 2009, Garcia ran for Bell Gardens city council, but fell 114 votes short of getting one of the three open seats.[2]

City of Bell Corruption[edit]

At about the same time, activists in the neighboring city of Bell were growing concerned about rising local property taxes, and what their money was going toward. One of them asked Garcia for help, and she started digging into Bell's finances. Los Angeles Times reporter Jeff Gottlieb said Garcia was one of the first people he interviewed about corruption in Bell— "Talking to Cristina and others, you got a feeling that there was something wrong in Bell..."[2]


On Thursday, July 15, 2010, the L.A. Times broke its first story on the corruption in Bell. Headlined "Is A City Manager Worth $800,000?" it detailed the exorbitant salaries Robert Rizzo and other Bell city officials were paid. (For their coverage of the corruption in Bell, Times reporters Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives were awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.)[2]

That night, Garcia and local businessman Ali Saleh—with Dale Walker and Denise Rodarte joining the next day— founded a group that would come to be called BASTA—an acronym for the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, and in Spanish, ENOUGH![2][3]

Garcia became the chief spokesperson for the grassroots movement that, according to BASTA political consultant Leo Briones, did 60 press releases in a year; in a city where the electorate was known for apathy, the group drew hundreds of residents to town hall meetings, covered the city with overnight flyer blitzes, staged rallies and flooded council meetings with thousands of angry residents.[2][5]

Bell Recall[edit]

After the Mayor and targeted council members refused to step down, BASTA organized a recall effort in August 2010 and started collecting signatures to put the measure before the voters;[6] in March 2011, the effort succeeded in ousting Mayor Oscar Hernandez and council members Teresa Jacobo, George Mirabal, as well as Luis Artiga, who had resigned but remained on the ballot.[7]

Rizzo and Corrupt Officials Sentenced[edit]

On April 16, 2014, former city administrator Robert Rizzo was sentenced to 12 years in state prison and ordered to pay $8.8 million in restitution to the city of Bell—in addition to the 33 month federal prison sentence he had already received for tax fraud.[8] In all, seven officials received sentences and fines, including an 11 years and eight months prison sentence for Rizzo's assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia.[9]

California Assembly[edit]

In 2012, Cristina won a seat in the California Assembly with an upset victory over former Assemblyman Tom Calderon in the Democratic Primary, and garnered 71.5% of the vote despite being outspent by a margin of 7 to 1 against her Republican opponent.[10]

Garcia serves as chair for the Legislative Women's Caucus and as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, she chairs the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, and serves on the Judiciary, Ethics, Environmental Safety and Toxics, and Utilities and Energy committees, as well as Budget Subcommittee 3 (Resources and Transportation). She is also a former assistant majority leader of the Assembly.[11]

Calderon Resignation Advocacy[edit]

In 2013, Garcia was the first member of the California Legislature to call for then State Senator Ron Calderon to resign from office after an unsealed FBI affadavit and subsequent news reports surfaced of possible corruption.[12] Calderon was the most powerful member of a political dynasty for decades in California that included his brothers, former state assembly members Tom Calderon and Charles Calderon, and his nephew, current state Assemblyman Ian Calderon.[13]

In October of 2016, Ron Calderon was sentenced to 42 months and admitted in a plea deal of accepting tens of thousands of dollars from undercover FBI agents and a hospital executive. Tom Calderon was sentenced to a year in federal custody for laundering bribes taken by his brother.[13]

A judge's recommendation in August of 2017 that Ron Calderon be considered for early release drew outrage from Garcia who said, "Granting his request...after only serving seven months in a white-collar facility—is an added insult to my community and a void of justice in our democracy."[14]

#MeToo Advocacy[edit]

In 2017, Garcia became recognized as a strong voice in the #MeToo movement; in an interview with the New York Times, Garcia revealed that she had been repeatedly sexually harassed by men during her legislative career, and later co-signed a letter calling for an end to workplace harassment of women.[15] She has also said that some members of the California Assembly are not attentive during sexual harassment training that is conducted by legislative staff,[16] she was one of a number of people whose pictures were featured in TIME magazine's 2017 Person of the Year issue honoring what it called "The Silence Breakers"—women (and men) who had broken their silence about experiences of sexual harassment.[17][18]

Accusations of sexual misconduct and leave of absence[edit]

In January 2018, Daniel Fierro, a former staff member for California Assemblyman Ian Calderon, claimed an intoxicated Garcia had groped and fondled him against his will following the Assembly's annual softball game in 2014.[18][19] Fierro currently heads Presidio Strategic Communications (formerly Fierro Public Affairs), a public relations and public policy consulting firm that lists Ian Calderon as a client.[20][21] Two people who were colleagues of Fierro later attested having been told of the incident immediately after it had occurred.[18][19] Meanwhile, an unnamed lobbyist told Politico that Garcia had repeatedly telephoned him with invitations for drinks and, after being rejected, physically confronted him and told him that she'd "set a goal for myself to fuck you".[18]

Garcia denied both mens' allegations,[22][19] on February 10, 2018, she announced that she would take a voluntary unpaid leave while the California State Assembly investigates the sexual misconduct claims.[23]

On February 14, 2018 four of Garcia's former staff members filed a complaint with the Assembly Rules Committee alleging misconduct rising to the level of sexual harassment.[24] David Kernick, one of the four, came forward a few days later to accuse Garcia of firing him for complaining that she pressed her staff to play the game spin the bottle.[25]

California Democrats Endorsement[edit]

At its convention in San Diego over the February 25, 2018 weekend, California Democrats endorsed Garcia in her reelection bid for the 58th Assembly District, in spite of an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.[26]

Electoral history[edit]

2012 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 58th State Assembly district election, 2012
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Patricia A. Kotze-Ramos 9,015 28.1
Democratic Cristina Garcia 8,517 26.6
Democratic Tom Calderon 7,290 22.7
Democratic Luis H. Marquez 3,946 12.3
Democratic Daniel Crespo 2,096 6.5
Democratic Sultan "Sam" Ahmad 1,197 3.7
Total votes 32,061 100.0
General election
Democratic Cristina Garcia 91,019 71.8
Republican Patricia A. Kotze-Ramos 35,676 28.2
Total votes 126,695 100.0
Democratic hold

2014 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 58th State Assembly district election, 2014
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Cristina Garcia (incumbent) 19,392 100.0
Total votes 19,392 100.0
General election
Democratic Cristina Garcia (incumbent) 43,182 100.0
Total votes 43,182 100.0
Democratic hold

2016 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 58th State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Cristina Garcia (incumbent) 56,052 100.0
Republican Ramiro Alvarado (write-in) 19 0.0
Total votes 56,071 100.0
General election
Democratic Cristina Garcia (incumbent) 105,170 75.3
Republican Ramiro Alvarado 34,449 24.7
Total votes 139,619 100.0
Democratic hold


  1. ^ "Cristina Garcia's Biography". VoteSmart. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Aron, Hillel (September 5, 2017). "Assemblymember Cristina Garcia is Shaking Up the Establishment". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c Vértiz, Vickie (November 20, 2014). "How Do We Come Back? Assemblymember Cristina Garcia on Leadership in Southeast L.A." KCET. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  4. ^ Tsidulko, Joseph (May 14, 2014). "Cristina Garcia: From fighting Corruption in Bell to the State Assembly". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  5. ^ Folkenflik, David (September 24, 2010). "How The L.A. Times Broke The Bell Corruption Story". NPR, Weekend Edition Saturday. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  6. ^ Esquivel, Paloma (September 28, 2010). "Bell recall organizers claim enough signatures for vote". L.A. Now - Los Angeles Times blog. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  7. ^ Goffard, Christopher (March 9, 2011). "Bell voters cast out the old and opt for the new". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  8. ^ Knoll, Corina; Gottlieb, Jeff (April 16, 2014). "Rizzo gets 12 years in prison, marking end to scandal that rocked Bell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  9. ^ Knoll, Corina; Mather, Kate (April 10, 2014). "Former Bell official Angela Spaccia gets 11 years, 8 months in prison". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  10. ^ Gottlieb, Jeff (November 11, 2012). "Cristina Garcia goes from Bell activist to Assembly post". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Cristina Garcia Biography". California State Democratic Caucus. 
  12. ^ Hews, Brian (November 2, 2013). "Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia Demands Senator Ron Calderon to Resign". Los Cerritos Community News. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  13. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick; Rubin, Joel (October 21, 2016). "'My reputation is destroyed': Former state Sen. Ron Calderon sentenced to 42 months in prison in corruption case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  14. ^ McGreevy, Patrick (August 14, 2017). "Lawmaker says idea of early prison release for former Sen. Ron Calderon is an 'insult' to the public". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  15. ^ Nagourney, Adam; Medina, Jennifer (October 17, 2017). "Women Denounce Harassment in California's Capital". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2017. 
  16. ^ Ronyane, Kathleen (December 19, 2017). "Lawmakers' sex harassment training like '4th grade lecture'". Reno Gazette Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  17. ^ "TIME Person of the Year: The silence Breakers". WNYC The Brian Lehrer Show. December 6, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2018. 
  18. ^ a b c d Marinucci, Carla (February 8, 2018). "#MeToo movement lawmaker investigated for sexual misconduct allegations". Politico. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  19. ^ a b c Hawkins, Derek (February 9, 2018). "Female California lawmaker behind #MeToo push is accused of groping male staffer". Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Daniel G. Fierro". February 27, 2018. 
  21. ^ "Social Media Management - Clients". February 27, 2018. Retrieved February 27, 2018. 
  22. ^ Mason, Melanie (February 9, 2018). "Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia to take leave of absence during investigation of misconduct allegations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2018. 
  23. ^ "Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia to step aside amid sexual harassment inquiry". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-02-10. 
  24. ^ Ronayne, Kathleen (February 15, 2018). "California assemblywoman faces fresh misconduct allegations". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. 
  25. ^ Marinucci, Carla (February 18, 2018). "'Spin the bottle' and a kegerator: #MeToo movement lawmaker faces new sexual misconduct allegations". 
  26. ^ Richardson, Valerie (February 26, 2018). "California Democrats endorse state legislator under investigation for sexual misconduct". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 28, 2018. 

External links[edit]