Wendy Carrillo, who was brought by her parents to the U.S. from Ecuador as a young child and settled here illegally, won yesterday's special election to represent the 51st District in the California State Assembly.
Carrillo, 37, who became a U.S. citizen shortly before her 21st birthday, beat fellow Democratic challenger Luis Lopez by a 943 vote margin. She garnered 52.83 percent of the vote, while Lopez had just over 47 percent.
The labor activist and award-winning journalist will take over the seat vacated by Jimmy Gomez after he won election to Congress. Gomez, in turn, won that seat after Xavier Becerra vacated it to become the state’s attorney general.
Carrillo benefited by picking up high-profile endorsements from Gomez, the state Democratic Party, Emily’s List, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and the Democratic Legislative Women’s Caucus.
She ran on a platform that included affordable housing, women’s rights, and healthcare.
With the federal government cracking down even further on undocumented immigrants, including those with children who are U.S. citizens like Carrillo, her win highlights both the future opportunities and current challenges for people in her situation.