LA politician Gloria Molina passed away battling cancer, at the age of 74.

Gloria Molina, the first Latina to be elected to the State Assembly, the Los Angeles City Council, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, passed away at the age of 74.

The first Latina Assembly member in California, the first Latina on the Los Angeles City Council, and the first Latina on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors were all firsts in Molina’s political career that encouraged future generations of women and Latinos to run for government.

Throughout her ascent, Molina moved through the L.A. power structures with both the skepticism of an outsider and the insight of an insider. Molina was a populist who was equally influenced by the Chicano and feminist movements as well as the immigrant culture of her parents.

Image credit: www.ucla.edu

She battled legislators in Sacramento who wanted to relocate polluters and jails to her Eastside district. She led initiatives on the City Council to provide affordable homes and hire street sweepers to clean up areas that had been abandoned for years by local authorities. As a manager, she successfully resisted job benefits including a private chef and personal car for the supervisors and pension increases for public employees.

She represents a “perfect convergence” of groups that L.A.’s power brokers, who are frequently white males, have long ignored: women, Mexican Americans, and the Eastside, according to Fernando Guerra, director of Loyola Marymount’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles.

He remarked that while being a part of the system, she never lost sight of the importance of never taking authority figures’ word for granted.

Over the course of a 32-year political career, Molina embraced every opportunity to enrage detractors, and there were many of them.

Image credit: www.oclc.org

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