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Democracy & Voting Rights

Latino Representation Lacking in Gubernatorial Appointments


Contributors


A report published today by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (UCLA LPPI) found that Latinos make up only 18.4% of executive appointees made by the Governor and legislative leaders despite making up 39.1% of the state population.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     

August 11, 2022

Latino Representation Lacking in Gubernatorial Appointments

A new UCLA report shows despite recent gains, Latinos have the largest representational gap in California’s executive appointee pool

A report published today by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (UCLA LPPI) found that Latinos make up only 18.4% of executive appointees made by the Governor and legislative leaders despite making up 39.1% of the state population.

Analyzing the representation of Latinos in appointed positions within state governing boards, commissions and departments, the report found that non-Hispanic whites are overrepresented in appointments made across California’s executive branch. Non-Hispanic whites make up over 48% of all executive appointments. These executive appointees play a key role in establishing statewide policy priorities and regulatory standards, as well as determining the allocation of billions of dollars in public resources.

‚ÄúParity in executive branch appointments is critical to ensuring representation at key regulatory and agenda-setting tables,‚ÄĚ said Sonja Diaz, founding director of UCLA LPPI. ‚ÄúWithout representation in these bodies, the myriad of policy reforms necessitating a Latino lens evolve into a universal approach that can leave Latinos worse off. Our elected leaders have an obligation to do more to ensure the state‚Äôs diverse Latino population is truly represented as architects of state policy and rulemaking.‚ÄĚ

This representation gap in appointed positions is stark when looking at educational boards and commissions. Despite making up 55% of California’s public school population and 43% of its state-funded higher education student population, Latinos only represent 27.7% of appointed positions on boards and commissions overseeing our educational systems (e.g., State Board of Education, UC Board of Regents). Additionally, Latinos only make up 14.6% of appointed positions that regulate the environment despite being disproportionately impacted by the health and economic threats of climate change.

Proportional representation is also lacking on California’s four criminal justice boards and commissions. Latino youth are 65% more likely than white youth to encounter the justice system, and representation on these boards and commissions is critical to advance targeted reforms to address the consequence of incarcerating young Latino communities. Yet, only three of the state’s 29 criminal justice appointees are Latino.

The underrepresentation of Latinos in appointments also correlates to a dearth of Central and Southern California voices on executive boards and commissions. Despite making up 71.3% of the state’s population and 83.4% of the state’s Latinos, these two regions lag behind on representation at the state’s workforce development and economic opportunity boards and commissions. Central California makes up only 8.5% of these appointees and only 24.6% are from the Greater Los Angeles area.

Governor Newsom’s administration has demonstrated a notable commitment to broadening diversity in state appointments, including the historic nomination of Justice Patricia Guerrero to serve as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. While there is work to be done, significant progress has been made over the tenure of his administration with 70% of sitting Latino appointees appointed in just the last four years, Legacy appointments carried over from previous administrations were more likely to be non-Hispanic white; over 57% were appointed before 2019. The report recommends the governor should clearly define appointment term limits and limit the practice of granting legacy reappointments to create a regular stream of openings on key boards and commissions where diverse candidates could be recruited and appointed.

The report also urges the legislature and governor to pass Senate Bill 1387 which would direct the governor’s office to build internal capacity to track and report the demographic makeup of gubernatorial appointees. The authors recommend that the governor issue an executive order that sets administration-wide directives for reaching proportional representation to better reflect the state’s diverse constituencies across race and ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, geographic residence and more.

‚ÄúTo ensure California leadership reflects its greater population, the collection of gubernatorial appointee‚Äôs demographic data is a critical step to achieving gender, racial and ethnic parity in California‚Äôs boards and commissions‚ÄĚ said Helen Torres, CEO of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) – a leading proponent of SB 1387. ‚ÄúThis ongoing data collection is necessary to shed light where inequities in representation exist, encourage outreach to communities of interest, and address any systemic barriers to full and inclusive participation in our state‚Äôs democracy.‚ÄĚ

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Kacey Bonner

E: lppipress@luskin.ucla.edu

 

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About UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute

The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute addresses the most critical domestic policy challenges facing Latinos and other communities of color through research, advocacy, mobilization, and leadership development to expand genuine opportunity for all Americans.