Newsom’s cabinet still lacks Latinos
Despite recent Latina appointees, a UCLA report found that the California governor’s cabinet still has the biggest disparity in representation among Latinos.
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Positions in state governing boards, commissions, and departments are crucial to the success of state administrations and how they are run. They advise them, as well as play a role in establishing statewide public policies and regulatory standards. They also help determine the allocation of state funds and public resources.
With that being said, without proportional representation in those positions, it is difficult to make sure certain groups are receiving the attention and resources they need. With money and resources to be allocated, without the representation, it can create inequities within the state. Huge populations of vulnerable communities can fall through the cracks as a result.
For California, with the largest Latino population in the U.S., only just recently have Latinos seen appointments to higher government positions. And even with that, much more is needed to achieve proportional representation. The state’s economy is the fifth largest in the world and any further success is linked with the already large Latino population that exists, as well as its future growth.
A recent report from UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Institute analyzed the high-ranking positions as well as the gap that still exists. While the report focuses on mainly Latinos, it also highlights the need for representation in these positions from other ethnic groups.
The findings of the report are both positive, and reflective of the progress that still needs to be made. According to the report, among all racial and ethnic groups in the state’s executive positions, Latinos have the largest representational gap.
Latinos make up more than 39% of the population, but only about 18% of the executives in power. This means that they are underrepresented by more than 20 percentage points. When looking at White people, they are overrepresented by over 12 percentage points, as they make up over 36% of the population, but account for 48% of those in executives positions.
Also in the report, among the female population, Latinas are the most underrepresented demographic among executive appointments. Latinas make up about 19% of the state’s population, but only about 8% account for executive positions. By comparison, White women are only 18% of the population, but account for over 43% of executive appointments.
Despite the history of Latinos in California, it has only been recently that they have gotten appointed to such positions. Most of them were appointed under the Newsom administration.
The UCLA report comes on the heels of the recent nominations of Judge Patricia Guerrero to be Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, and Amelia Yana Garcia Gonzalez, as the state’s new EPA Secretary.
Between 2019 and 2022, more than 70% of Latinos were appointed to executive positions. Any White appointees before then were nominated by previous administrations, who were also White. Over 57% were appointed prior to 2019.
The overall Latino underrepresentation on executive boards and commissions, leaves those voices out of the conversation. To reach proportional representation, Latinos would have to make up at least 39% of these boards and commissions. Additionally, of the positions that regulate the environment, only 14% of Latinos sit in these positions, which is troubling considering Latinos suffer the most health and economic issues as a result.
The report also revealed that reappointments, undefined term limits, and retention of positions favor White people more than Latinos. An overwhelming 63% of reappointments are White. It’s in stark contrast to Latinos who only make up just shy of 8% of reappointments. Also, 53% of those who serve without term limits are White.
The overall underrepresentation of Latinos in such positions is detrimental to Central and Southern Californians. Central and Southern California are home to over 71% of California’s population. It is also home to over 83% of the state’s Latinos. Any and all policy decisions that are made are made without the voice of those it directly impacts, and that creates a divide and inequities across the board.
The report has some policy recommendations to help close the gap that include setting executive orders that ensure any and all future appointments are reflective of its constituents. This includes race, gender, age, and sexual orientation. Also, the governor's office should oversee that all appointments have defined and appropriate terms. Finally, they recommend that the governor’s office should try and limit the practice of legacy appointments to avoid further underrepresentation.