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Gloria Molina Envisions the Future of Los Angeles

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Gloria Molina, former California legislator and Fall 2021 Fellow at the USC Center for the Political Future (CPF), joined CPF Co-Directors Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy to discuss the future of Los Angeles on Thursday, August 19. (Source: CPF)
Gloria Molina, former California legislator and Fall 2021 Fellow at the USC Center for the Political Future (CPF), joined CPF Co-Directors Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy to discuss the future of Los Angeles on Thursday, August 19. (Source: CPF)

LA County made history last year when its voters elected an all-women Board of Supervisors for the first time ever. Known as the “Five Little Kings/Queens” of Los Angeles, the Board of Supervisors has a large amount of power, with authority over taxes, urban planning, and the administration of County services. One of the most “hands-on” Supervisors, in her words, was Gloria Molina, who was the first Latina elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1991 and represented East Los Angeles for 23 years. She was known as a fiscal watchdog and was committed to effective government reforms, maintenance of the county's public healthcare delivery system, and quality of life issues - particularly for the one million residents in the county’s unincorporated areas. Molina, now a Fellow at the USC Center for the Political Future (CPF), joined CPF Co-Directors Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy to discuss the future of Los Angeles, the upcoming recall election(s), and more.

Watch the video for "The Future of Los Angeles with Gloria Molina, former LA County Supervisor and CA Assemblymember."

Molina began the conversation by listing some of the qualities she believes the next Mayor of Los Angeles and elected leadership in general needs. She described the ideal future leader as “bold,” someone who brings “hands-on leadership,” and who “can come to the table” and mediate between various special interest groups that have a loud voice in LA politics. Pointing to the fight between advocates who want to build more housing and their opponents in neighborhood groups, Molina said that the inability to find a middle ground on that issue was hurting them in the long run, and said a “fierce and strong” leader is needed to hash out an agreement and make progress.

Molina also reflected on her own legacy, having broken through glass ceilings to become the first Latina elected to the California State Assembly, Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She talked about working with other grassroots organizers to try and get a Latina elected to a new Congressional seat, but how the male power brokers brushed them off. That inspired her run into the State Assembly, where she beat out one of the aforementioned power brokers who told her it wasn’t time for a Latina to win. She credits her success to always having been an activist, and not being afraid to challenge those who were in power.

Molina then shared a story about her proudest moment in elected office - stopping the construction of a state prison in what is now the Arts District. It was a tough battle, and resulted in an unhappy Governor vetoing 11 of Molina’s later bills. She takes a look at the vibrant community there, and says it was all worth it. She closed the event by mentioning the value in conversation, and the ability to bridge divides to get stuff done and improve our cities.

Molina joins Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, as a Fall 2021 Fellow at CPF. Both of their USC classes still have openings available. Students interested in these classes can apply here: Fellows Courses (POSC 410).

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