May 21, 2013

Sac Unified Board Trustee seeks 9th Assembly District seat

The long-time South Sacramento resident looks toward making public policy to improve the state’s education system
SacLatino Staff

Diana Rodriguez, Assembly Candidate
    For the many who meet her for the first time, Diana Rodriguez is a very personable woman with a contagious spark of enthusiasm that is fresh and gets results. Her keene attention to detail sets her apart from her fellow Board members on the Sacramento Unified School District Board of Trustees. 
     Now on her 5th year as a Board member, including serving as Board President, Diana is seeking to represent the 9th Assembly District, where she can better effectuate education public policy.
     “I fought hard to keep targeted schools open,” she says referring to the recent school closures the Board approved. “The communities most impacted were those with little or no voice on what goes on and that’s one of the reasons I decided to run for Assembly.”
      A product of public schools, Diana grew up between the farming community of Watsonville, California, near her birth town of Santa Cruz, and Sacramento. Her father was a Hewlett Packard employee and her mother a teacher’s assistant. They divorced when Diana was 10, which created a difficult period for her, resulting in her staying regularly with her grandmother in Watsonville.
      “I lived between Sacramento and Watsonville, attending schools in both communities,” says Diana. “I went to Luther Burbank High School until my junior year when I decided to stay with my grandmother and finish high school in Watsonville.”
      Upon graduating, Diana moved to Los Angeles to attend college, but quickly found that without family support, living there was challenging. So she moved back to Watsonville to attend the local community college. Working at her uncle’s restaurant, renting a room from her grandmother and
At the White House Briefing Room discussing Education
going to school was what Diana wanted. She had no inclination of getting into politics or at least that was her thinking until she moved to Sacramento.
      In 2007, Diana moved to Sacramento, which she considered her home, and it was then when she found a need for area children to get a better education.
     “In listening to the parents and kids in my neighborhood and reading in the paper the troubles the Sacramento Unified School District was having, I felt a need to get involved and do something about what I believed to be an atrocity,” she says.
      Around the same time, a former coworker and friend who was also very politically savvy, approached and convinced Diana to run for the School Board. Not having any political background meant she would need to learn about campaigning from scratch.
      “My friend Rosa introduced me to several key individuals who all worked in getting me elected,” Diana adds. “It was very hard work - the precinct walking, fundraising, networking and learning everything I could about school issues.”
      Diana’s victory was a surprise and many were talking about her achievement. But, it was her work with fellow Board Trustee, Gustavo Arroyo, on getting the largest Latino participation in the Sacramento census that put her on the radar of political leaders across the state.
      Since then, she has been invited numerous times to the White House to participate in the President’s Hispanic Education Initiative and was also elected President of the School Board by her peers.
      More recently, Diana was hailed as a champion of under-privileged communities as the School Board decided to close 11 schools, due to budgetary cutbacks. Diana fought the closures together with many parents who felt the District had failed to show proof that those schools were losing money.
L-R: Diana, Senator Alex Padilla, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Astronaut Jose Hernandez

      Knowing she could be more helpful to education by being at the State Capitol, Diana decided to run for the 9th Assembly District.
      “With the largest economy in the nation, California ought to be first in education funding,” says Diana. “Twenty-first century employers should be able to recruit enough educated and trained workers from right here.”
      Diana’s passion to improve education makes her a strong ally of parents and teachers alike, who are looking to ensure their child’s education comes first. - SacLatino

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