After 45 years in Anaheim, this city is more than just where I live - it is really so much of who I am.
As the daughter of immigrants, I grew up in the small farming community of Salinas, where my parents worked the fields and taught me the value of hard work.
My husband Michael and I moved to Anaheim when we were just 17 years old and worked hard to build a life here. We put ourselves through school and I found opportunities to work my way up in business while Michael studied to be an electrician.
We know the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck just to keep ahead. We raised our two daughters here, and we understand the challenges parents face in trying to provide for their children.
For the past 34 years, I have been the executive director of the Eli Home for Abused and Neglected Children. It is the United States Presidential Citation award-winning nonprofit I founded to provide shelter, counseling and support services to homeless abused children and their mothers - who are often victims of domestic violence.
During my eight years serving the people of Anaheim on City Council, I was a passionate voice for working families.
I fought to improve underserved neighborhoods with new parks and infrastructure and brought in nearly 3,000 new affordable housing units to the city. I helped develop the Anaheim Family Justice Center, a first-in-the-nation model that totally changed the way law enforcement and social service agencies coordinate to better serve victims of family crime and violence. It is now called the Orange County Family Justice Center because it serves the entire region.
Both in and out of office, I've launched community reinvestment measures to revitalize Anaheim's underserved neighborhoods.
In 2009, I founded the East Street Community Renewal Initiative (ESCRI) to help families improve their lives and their communities through nutrition education, afterschool tutoring, financial literacy courses and community improvement projects.
In 2015, I launched 100 Chances, an innovative public-private partnership that annually pairs 100 at-risk Anaheim youth and students of color with community, government, and business leaders for an apprenticeship and mentorship program, with the goal of securing employment after high school.
Now, I'm running for mayor with a bold vision and the experience to make it a reality.
I'll be a voice for all of Anaheim and work hard every day to make our city better for families.