Joseph N. "Joe" Baca (born January 23, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for California's 43rd congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 42nd from 1999 to 2003, is located in southwestern San Bernardino County and includes Fontana, Rialto, Ontario and San Bernardino.
Early life, education and career
Baca was born in Belen, New Mexico in 1947, the youngest of 15 children in a primarily Spanish-speaking household. His father was a railroad laborer.
The family moved to Barstow, California when Joe was young, where he shined shoes at age 10, delivered newspapers, and later worked as a laborer for the Santa Fe Railroad, until he was drafted in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army until 1968. He did not serve in Vietnam.
Following military service, Baca attended Barstow Community College and went on to receive his bachelor's degree in sociology from California State University, Los Angeles. He worked for 15 years in community relations with General Telephone and Electric.
In 1979, he was the first Latino elected to the Board of Trustees for the San Bernardino Valley College District. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1992, and to the State Senate in 1998.
U.S. House of Representatives
He serves on the House Financial Services Committee, where he is a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, and the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Rep. Baca also serves on the House Agriculture Committee, where he is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Departmental Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry.
Baca is the Chair of the CHC Corporate America Task Force, which aims to increase Hispanic representation in corporate America. He created and co-chairs the Congressional Sex and Violence in the Media Caucus. Other caucus memberships include the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, the Military/ Veterans Caucus, the Native American Caucus and the U.S.-Mexico Caucus.
Only a few months after Baca was elected to the state senate, Congressman George Brown, Jr., the longest-serving member of either house of Congress in California's history, died after a long illness. Baca finished first in a seven-way primary, but fell far short of a majority due to the presence of two minor Democratic candidates. In the runoff, Baca defeated Republican Elia Pirozzi with 50.4 percent of the vote.
He won the seat in his own right in 2000 with 59 percent of the vote.
Brown had faced several unusually close races over the years and the state legislature had been looking to shore up the district even before his death. After the 2000 census, the district was renumbered as the 43rd and reconfigured as a majority-Hispanic district. Baca was handily reelected from this redrawn district in 2002 and has not faced substantive opposition since.
Baca and his wife, Barbara, began their own business, Interstate World Travel, in San Bernardino in 1989. They have four children: Joe Jr., Jeremy, Natalie and Jennifer. Son Joe Baca, Jr.
served one term as state assemblyman for California's 62nd district, marking the first time a father and son have served from the same California legislative district.
Rep. Baca has received many honors for his public service. Recent awards include the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President's Achievement Award, the 2006 California Hunger Fighter Award (first time awarded to a Member of Congress), and the National Farmers Union Presidential Award for Leadership. He has also had two local parks named after him: the Joe Baca Senior Field at the Empire Center in Fontana and the Joe Baca Field at the Rialto Boys and Girls Club.
September 21st, 2011