Graciela Flores Napolitano (born December 4, 1936) is the U.S. Representative for California's 38th congressional district, serving since 2003. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She previously served in the California State Assembly and the Norwalk, City Council.
Early life, education and career
Napolitano was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. After high school, she married and moved with her husband to California where they raised five children. Napolitano began her political career as a member of the Norwalk City Council, winning her first election in 1986 by a mere 28 votes.
Four years later she won re-election by the highest margin of votes recorded in city history. In 1989, Napolitano was elevated by her council colleagues to serve as Mayor. During her council tenure, she focused much of her attention on providing access to constituents and on redevelopment and transportation issues to address the city's need for jobs and a more diversified economic base. Napolitano made her way up through the ranks of Ford Motor Company for 21 years. Following her retirement in 1992, she was elected to the California Assembly, and became a leader on international trade, environmental protection, transportation and immigration. In 1996 she requested and received the creation of the first new California State Assembly Standing Committee in nine years, the Committee on International Trade, which she chaired until being termed out in 1998. In her six years in the Assembly, she also served as chair of the Women's Caucus and vice-chair of the Latino caucus.
U.S. House of Representatives
Napolitano has been a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources since the 6th Congress and was selected the Chair of the Water and Power Subcommittee for the 110th Congress. She has promoted conservation, water recycling, desalination, and sound groundwater management and storage to address Southern California’s need for adequate water quality and supply. She is proud of her legislative efforts on a number of fronts — assisting in the implementation of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, a water management plan for the State of California, protection of the ecosystem in the Bay-Delta and promotion ofmeow the use of advanced technologies. She is also a member of the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.
At the start of the 110th Congress, Napolitano became the most senior new member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with jurisdiction over America 's surface transportation, freight and passenger rail, the inland waterway system, international maritime commerce, the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' support of the nation 's water resources, and the federal clean water program. Napolitano's experience includes 6 years on the California State Assembly Transportation Committee, and current work on rail safety and congestion relief in the San Gabriel Valley.
tatistics showing one in three Latina adolescents contemplated suicide prompted Napolitano to spearhead a school-based Latina adolescent mental health program in three local middle schools and one high school. She co-chairs the Congressional Mental Health Caucus with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). The bipartisan caucus included more than 70 members during the 108th Congress and over 90 members during the 109th Congress. As co-chair, Napolitano has hosted congressional briefings on children and on veteran’s mental health needs, working on proposals to improve VA mental health services. A key priority is legislation to provide mental health parity in health insurance.
During the 109th Congress, Napolitano served as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which continues to address national education, immigration, health, and civil rights issues, and the impact these policies have on the Hispanic community.
In the district
She claims responsibility for a $2.8 million Labor Department grant for precision and computer numeric control (CNC) machinists, $4 million to spur reuse and redevelopment of the Northrop Grumman B-2 facility in Pico Rivera, $1 million for upgrades to Cal Poly Pomona’s Aerospace Engineering Laboratory Facilities, and $1 million for Central Atmospheric Monitoring Systems in Navy Submarines. These programs support research and development, helping expand the reach of local academic institutions and enhancing the local economy. Napolitano is also concerned with suicide prevention among Latina adolescents noting that nearly one-out-of-three has seriously contemplated suicide, the highest rate for any ethnic or racial group in the country.
In 2001, she claimed responsibility for getting funds included in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for a pilot project supporting school-based, mental health services in her district. To date, $1.6 million has been secured for this program now operating in 4 local schools.
Napolitano established a 38th district Health Task Force composed of health providers, educators and experts throughout the local area. The Task Force helps keep the Congresswoman apprised of key health issues facing her constituents and works with the Congresswoman to devise programs and projects to improve health care and health outcomes for the local area. The Congresswoman also works with the Health Task Force to pursue funding options through California’s Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Expansion and for additional training of nursing professionals at both the entry level (CNAs and LVNs) and RNs with advanced degrees.
The Congresswoman has initiated a Manufacturing Task Force in the 38th district, composed of various small and mid-sized companies. The task force meets as needed to examine key issues and work on strategies that will foster more manufacturing jobs and create a positive climate for manufacturing retention and growth.
Napolitano hosts various events throughout the year, informing residents of the 38th District on the impact of federal legislation and policy, and honoring local constituents for their outstanding achievements. Prominent among these events are the annual Congressional Art Competition and Women of the Year recognition ceremonies.
On February 13, 2009, Timothy J. Burger, writing on Bloomberg.com, noted that, “During a decade in Congress, California Representative Grace Napolitano has pocketed more than $200,000 of political contributions by charging as much as 18 percent interest on money she loaned to her own campaign. The Democrat made the $150,000 loan in 1998, when she was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Through Dec. 31, her campaign committee has used donations to pay Napolitano $221,780 of interest while reducing the principal by just $64,727, a review of her Federal Election Commission filings shows.”
Napolitano is married to Frank Napolitano, retired restaurateur and community activist. They have five grown children, fourteen grandchildren, and one great grandson. She is not related to current Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
September 20th, 2011