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DOWNEY - Thirty-year old nonprofit executive and Democratic activist Kevin Perez-Allen didn't hesitate to say that one of the compelling reasons why he decided to run for the open, newly-reconfigured 32nd state senatorial district in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election is the fact that he was born in Montebello, raised in Pico Rivera and now lives in Whittier.
The other cities (or portions thereof) encompassed by the district include Artesia, Bellflower, Buena Park, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Hacienda Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, Lakewood, Los Nietos, Norwalk, Rose Hills, Santa Fe Springs and South Whittier.
Another major reason why he's running, he says, is "there is every indication that things haven't been run properly by past and current officials, that many people have been suffering economically."
There seems to be no relief in sight, either, he says. He has observed a high dropout rate in the schools, and he wants to go on record as saying that, ultimately, he has not witnessed the right kind of leadership in addressing the various problems the communities are faced with.
"There's a disconnect," he says, "between promises and solutions that work."
It now appears Kevin will be running against the likes of former Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, former Assemblywoman Sally Havice, current Downey mayor Mario Guerra, and probably Tom Calderon (part of the Calderon political family dynasty who hasn't yet announced his intention to run).
The district primary is scheduled for June 3, 2014.
Kevin obtained his BA in politics (major in public policy) from Whittier College in 2005, and immediately went on to devote his energies to the nonprofit area, spending the first two years in social services working for the nonprof, Mercy House, which provides housing and services for homeless families as well as homeless veterans.
Then he says he found his passion in 2008 working as a nonprofit consultant for fundraising and developmental projects, helping out start-up small businesses with their initial investment and venture capital efforts.
Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses of course led to the inevitable, and very satisfying, result: seeing jobs created in the area.
This combination of economic recovery and job creation has become one of the four pillars of his campaign platform, the others being education, mental health and the environment.
A case in point of the latter, he says, is his opposition to oil drilling in the Whittier Hills which Matrix Oil wants to do. Everybody concerned is waiting for the Board of Supervisors' vote on this issue soon.
"I've been thinking about all these for the last few years," says Kevin, who was the first in his family to graduate from college. An older sister works for the city of Anaheim, a younger brother works as an IT specialist in Utah, and a younger sister is still in college. Of Irish-Mexican extraction, Kevin says his mom, who was born in Boyle Heights, works for the Red Cross and is a member of the SEIU 721 Union.
"I've come to the conclusion that the majority of elected officials are out to benefit themselves first," Kevin goes on. "I just got fed up with their miserable machinations. As for my motivations, I'm not in this to further my career, nor do I have a selfish, personal agenda. I see this seat as an opportunity to make substantial and tangible differences in the lives of the people in our communities. In the end I want to be a worthy representative of the people in my district."
"I realize that it's impossible to fix things immediately," he says, "but they can be improved incrementally, piece by piece, and this is how I'll approach this job."
"I'm basically focusing on my own campaign and not react to what the other candidates may say or do. I have my own resources and plenty of supporters of my own. I've got a very good network. I'm not intimidated at all by any of it. I know that if I'm able to reach the people who want a change with my message, I have a good chance of winning this race. I'm very excited about all this."
He rattled off some demographic figures: the estimates for the Latino population in the district are about 50.3 percent of the total population, followed by Caucasians at 30 percent. African Americans number 14.7 percent, Asians 4.2 percent, and Indians at 2 percent. Thus there's a broad ethnic mix out there, he says.
"I am an idealist of sorts," he says, "but not entirely pie-in-the-sky either. You can call me a 'practical idealist' if this is possible. I feel now is the perfect time to run."
"While we're young?" I joked. "While we're young," he said. He turns 31 this September.
Published: July 25, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 15