Lisa Calderon and Suzette Martinez Valladares were sworn in Monday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento for their first terms in the Assembly representing Los Angeles County districts.
Calderon, D-Whittier, succeeds her stepson, Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, in representing the 57th Assembly District, which consists of portions of the East San Gabriel Valley and Southeast Los Angeles County.
Ian Calderon, the Assembly majority leader, decided against seeking a fifth term, opting instead to spend more time with his wife and three children.
“I am deeply honored to represent my constituents in Sacramento,” Lisa Calderon said. “I look forward to being a strong advocate for our communities in the 57th District and addressing the challenges facing Californians today.”
A member of the Calderon family has served in the Legislature since 1982. Lisa Calderon’s husband Charles was an assemblyman from 1982-90 and 2006-12 and a state senator from 1990-98. Her brother-in-law Ron was an assemblyman from 2002-06 and a state senator from 2006-14. Another brother-in-law, Tom, was an assemblyman from 1998-2002.
Calderon defeated Republican Jessica Martinez, 60.5%-39.5% in the Nov. 3 election. Calderon finished second in a field of eight Democrats and Martinez in the March 3 primary with 20.1% of the vote. Sylvia Rubio, a businesswoman/community representative and sister of Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, was third with 17.1% of the vote.
Calderon describes herself as businesswoman and activist but “first and foremost a mom.” She is team mother for her youngest son’s baseball team at Loyola High School.
Calderon graduated from Cal State Sacramento. She worked for then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, D-San Francisco, in the Office of Majority Services from 1990-96.
Calderon was government affairs manager for Edison International from 1996 through 2020, concentrating the past seven years on efforts to increase Latino representation in elected offices throughout California and the rest of the nation.
“I grew up from humble beginnings,” said Calderon, who lived in government-subsidized housing. Both her parents were farm workers. They divorced when she was 6.
“It was hard, but it made me strong, compassionate, and understanding of others,” she said. “I have had to fight for everything I have. Throughout my life I have fought for the advancement of issues and people who the system is leaving behind. I will never stop fighting for those people, because I believe everyone deserves a fair shake in life.”
Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, succeeds Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, in representing the 38th Assembly District, which consists of the Santa Clarita Valley, portions of the West San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. Smith unsuccessfully ran for Congress instead of running for reelection.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” Valladares tweeted Monday. “I am very proud that as the granddaughter of immigrant farm workers I will be sworn in to the California State Assembly today. The only seat to switch partisan hands, bringing more balance for the people of California.”
Valladares defeated fellow Republican Lucie Lapointe Volotzky by a margin of 76.1%-23.9% in the Nov. 3 election. Valladares finished first in a field of two Republicans and five Democrats in the primary with 31.8% of the vote.
Valladares was a district representative for then-Rep. Buck McKeon and executive director of Southern California Autism Speaks before succeeding her late mother in 2018 as CEO of Little Steps of Faith, a Christian preschool in Sylmar.
According to biographical information supplied by her campaign, Valladares was raised in the San Fernando Valley, the granddaughter of a farm worker who toiled alongside United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez in the vineyards near Bakersfield.
Valladares was told in high school, `You’re Latina, therefore you are a Democrat.” But after hearing then-Vice President Al Gore speak at a local high school. she says she realized that she identified with the Republican Party ideals of liberty, limited government, self-reliance and quality of life, the same values her parents had instilled in her.
Valladares is the mother of a 3-year-old daughter Charlotte.