U.S.A Opinion News

Endorsement: Caroline Menjivar for State Senate


Voters in the San Fernando Valley’s 20th state Senate District face this choice: Be represented by someone with a consistent record of public service or someone who has only dabbled in that work?

Four people are running in the June 7 primary to replace Democratic state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, who must leave office after serving two terms. They include three Democrats — his son Daniel Hertzberg, attorney Seydi Alejandra Morales, and Caroline Menjivar, a director of a nonprofit organization — and one Republican, real estate broker Ely De La Cruz Ayao.

The candidate with a track record of service is Menjivar. For 15 years she has poured her energy into serving the public — as a US Marine, an emergency medical technician, a Los Angeles City Hall field rep and now, as a director of new program initiatives for MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), a nonprofit in Pacoima that provides food and support to needy families. She has organized vaccine clinics, helped tenants apply for rental assistance and worked to put Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “green new deal” into action by creating campaigns promoting community gardens and electric car rentals to Spanish-speaking residents. As a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s also volunteered with gay-rights and veterans organizations.

Along the way, Menjivar — the child of immigrants from El Salvador — studied policy development at UCLA and earned a master’s degree in social welfare, boosting her on-the-ground experience with academic expertise. With an understanding of how governments serve people and a record of doing the work, Menjivar is well prepared to represent her community in the state Senate and help craft policy for all Californians.

She demonstrates knowledge on a variety of policy issues and is eager to work on legislation addressing mental health care, which she calls her top priority. Menjivar smartly identifies the need for more workers trained in psychiatric care to meaningfully improve mental health services. On housing, she supports building more units along transit corridors, and says she’d work to encourage better use of vacant property and more mixed-use developments.

The other Democrats in this race have records that pale in comparison. Morales is a workers’ compensation lawyer and former social worker with no experience in policy or politics. Hertzberg does business development for a corporate hotel and has held internships with lawmakers his father knows. (Ayao did not respond to our interview request and told the Los Angeles Daily News that he’s motivated to get into politics because he opposes abortion.)

Much of the political establishment and many powerful interest groups are supporting the younger Hertzberg. He has raised six times as much money as Menjivar and benefits from a name that is well-known in the San Fernando Valley, which his father represented in the Assembly and Senate and is now seeking to represent on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Hertzberg would hardly be the first to land in Sacramento with the benefit of family ties, At least 10 sitting state legislators are the child, sibling or spouse of a current or former lawmaker. But experience counts more than a family name. Elect Menjivar for her solid track record, her knowledge and her hustle.

Read more endorsements at: latimes.com/endorsements,

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