Every Sunday, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo drives to her parents’ home in Boyle Heights to make them coffee and visit. Like the café con leche she learned to make for them when she was 8 years old, this special day is steeped in a tradition of family.
It was during one of those visits earlier this year — shortly after Carrillo began her first year as the new assemblywoman representing the 51st Assembly District — that her mother reminded her to stay focused on families.
“My mom said that with this new responsibility, I have to remember that there are going to be people who are very loud, but that I have to be conscious of the people that I don’t hear from,” Carrillo recalled. “The people who have no political power. That don’t know how to reach their assembly member. That don’t know that there are levels of government that are working to better improve our communities.
“So there are folks who are highly political and call the office with requests and have positions on bills and want to question where I’m at and what decision I’m going to make. And then there are people like my parents, who work two to three jobs to pay their mortgage and put food on the table. Who maybe weren’t as connected when they first arrived in this country, but that still need the resources and opportunities and people looking out for them to make sure that their family is okay.”
“So I often think about my parents when I make decisions,” Carrillo added. “And I think about families like mine.”
The story of Carrillo’s own family began while civil war ravaged El Salvador, prompting her mother to bring Carrillo to the Eastside of Los Angeles as a young child. Carrillo’s family grew as she went from an only child to the oldest of five sisters. She became a citizen in her early 20s and went on to graduate from Cal State L.A. and earn a master’s degree at USC. Prior to being voted in to her first political office in the California State Assembly during a special election in November 2017, Carrillo spent 12 years as a broadcast journalist covering human rights, global conflict and U.S. politics, and later served as a communications manager for a Service Employees International Union affiliate.