REPORT: Despite Recent Gains, California Latinos Continue to be Underrepresented at Every Level of Government

July 09, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and Assemblymember Susan Talamantes-Eggman (D-Stockton) announced the findings of a report regarding the status of Latino elected officials in California. The report, entitled, “The Status of Latinos in California: An analysis of the growing Latino population, voting trends and elected representation,” was sponsored by the Leadership California Institute in partnership with the California Latino Legislative Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Mike Madrid of GrassrootsLab conducted the research for the report.

Recent Census reports show that Latinos have officially passed whites as the largest ethnic group in California. Despite those numbers, the Report found that California Latinos are vastly underrepresented in every level of government.

“Without a significant change in the current trend, California’s Latinos will be underrepresented for the foreseeable future,” said Caucus Chairman Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas). “Despite Latino population growth, we are experiencing governance-inequality. We cannot accept this kind of disproportional representation. The results are alarming, but there are many opportunities where our community can come together to make a difference, including increasing our collaborative partnerships with trusted and respected Latino organizations to champion the growth and potential of all Latinos and Californians throughout the state.”

Among the key findings:

  • Latinos make up 38.6% of the State, according to the 2014 US Census Estimate, however,
    • Over a ten-year average, Latinos only made up 19.6% of registered voters and a mere 16.5% of the electorate.
    • Latinos are only represented by 12.5% of the members of the State Senate.
    • Latinos are only represented by 23.8% of the members of the State Assembly.
    • Latinos are only represented by 9.8% of County Supervisors
    • Latinos are only represented by 14.6% of City Council members
  • High Latino Turnout does not guarantee local representation.
    • Even in counties where Latinos represent 20-25% of the electorate, local communities are not represented by Latino mayors and council members.
  • Poverty is a key factor in representation
    • Cities with very high Latino impoverishment are less likely to be represented in local government.
    • There are no cities with a Latino majority council when the Latino poverty rate is above 30%, unless the city is at least 85% Latino overall.
  • Latinas tend to fare better than other ethnicities.
    • While still a small number overall (5%), Latinas make up 33% of all Latino elected city officials, while Non-Latino female city officials are only 28% of their cohort. 

Latino representation fares best in small cities, but more needs to be done in medium to large cities to bring representation levels to population parity. Conversely, while they do well in small cities, when it comes to winning higher office, it becomes harder to mobilize the Latino vote and increase representation.

“The trajectory for an elected official starts at the local level, but the findings suggest there are weaknesses in growing our bench that we need to address,” added Latino Caucus member and Chair of the Latino Caucus Subcommittee on Civic Engagement, Assemblymember Susan Talamantes-Eggman (D-Stockton). “These studies are critical in order to illustrate the work that needs to be done if we are serious about accurately representing California’s largest ethnic group, and that work begins in our own backyard.”

For a full view of the report, you can find it on the Leadership California Institute’s website:


Contact: Michelle Reyes / / (916) 319-2030