Hilda Solis is fond of telling the story of a high school guidance councilor who told her mother that she shouldn't go to college and instead become a secretary. Well, Hilda Solis did become a Secretary: The Secretary of Labor in President Obama's administration.
Now, four years after becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, Secretary Solis has returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. Solis joins the show to talk about her accomplishments in Obama's cabinet, her return to California politics and her work with MALDEF on the critical issues facing the Latino community from immigration reform and education to job growth.
Why she's considering a run for LA County Board of Supervisors:
"Well, for me it's a continuance of public service, something that I'm deeply committed to. I love Los Angeles, I love Los Angeles County. I'm a product of the local area and want to continue to provide solutions to challenges and I see a lot of opportunities to come together. I'm excited about it, I think it's a new chapter for me. I've been away in Washington now almost 12 years, I served eight years in the house of representatives, representing the San Gabriel and the cities in L.A. County. I think it's a good means for me to come home and re-establish myself here. I'm excited because Los Angeles is changing, it's dynamic. People look to us for innovation for new ideas and for cutting-edge things that can be modeled and showcased around the country. I'm proud to be a part of that and I want to continue to be a part of it and seek out those interesting things that are going to be game changers for us here in Los Angeles County."
Can she confirm that she's planning to run?
"Well, I'm home right now visiting in L.A. County and home is home. It's a dynamic place to be right now. I haven't officially signed anything, but when the time comes everybody will know."
What does she think of the shortage of women in L.A. politics?:
"I think its anomaly, really. There are different trends, I see this in the legislature, I see it in the Congress, I see it in other facets of our lives. What we have to do is regroup, but we need to continually support other women to have access and opportunities to have access and opportunities to all positions across the board. What's very important here is while we're trying to set trends and get into areas where the glass ceiling has prohibited women, we've got to think about continually making those connections, networking and coalescing with those very good men that understand that it's better for all of us to integrate women more in those decision making processes and to have them at the table to be able to have all of our voices heard. Just to be a token doesn't do it, it has to be much more than that it has to be also an example that is set by top management, CEOs and by government officials across the board."
Does she think immigration reform is an issue both sides can collaborate on?:
"I believe so and I've already seen some semblance of that occurring just by the leaders of the Senate coming together…Latinos aren't the only group that would benefit from immigrationioin reform. We're talking about other people who have been here waiting to succeed and become citizens and partners here. The President has said very forcefully that he'd like to be able to retain people who come and get educated here…Also for those well-trained individuals…to be able to stay here and give them a path to citizenship or at least a green card."
What was the focus of her speech during the Latino State of the Union?:
"My effort was to focus on the economy and how Latinos have fared in the current situation in respect to the recession that we came out of, the recovery and where we are in terms of our future goals and aspirations and where we should be looking to plan ahead so that we help to restore and fortify this economy. Latinos play a significant role in the economic wellbeing of this country. Immigration reform was a big part of the discussion as well as jobs, job creation, job preparation, and educations. Civil rights, and a lot of issues that continue to affect out community."