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Friday, Sep 22, 2023


Gil Cedillo


California Legislature

Age: 43

Newly elected state Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, says he is not just an FOA, or Friend of Antonio, but rather an OFOA an original Friend of Antonio.

The Antonio he is referring to is Assemblyman Antonio R. Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, the new speaker of the Assembly the second most powerful position in the California Legislature. Villaraigosa and Cedillo not only grew up together in Boyle Heights, but also were roommates while attending UCLA.

“We’re two kids from Boyle Heights having a great time trying to do a good thing for our city,” said Cedillo, who was elected in January to the Assembly seat vacated by Louis Caldera, who left the post to take a job in Washington.

Having the ear of one of the Legislature’s leaders is an unusual position for a freshman assemblyman like Cedillo and one he is expected to take advantage of.

“Having access to the second most important legislator is certainly advantageous,” said state Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles. “The camaraderie and the trust they have for one another is going to be beneficial to Gil and, in the long run, to his voters and California voters, for that matter.”

Beside his friendships, Cedillo has a track record of his own, even though he has never before held or even run for an elected office. That track record includes a stint as field representative for former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley in the early 1980s.

For more than a decade, Cedillo worked for the Service Employees International Union, Local 660, Los Angeles County’s largest union. From 1991 to 1996, Cedillo led the union as general manager.

Despite joining the Legislature on the very day lawmakers’ bills were due for the year a situation that arose because he was filling a vacated seat Cedillo submitted a package of 16 bills on such issues as health care reform, cancer research, auto insurance, illegal immigration and domestic violence.

One of those bills, Assembly Bill 2458, if signed into law, would provide state tax incentives to downtown L.A. building owners who convert their buildings to “live-work spaces,” which allow workers, such as artists and Web page designers, to have their living quarters in the same place they work.

In an unusual move for a former union head, Cedillo is carrying the bill for the pro-business Central City Association. But Cedillo said that, despite his union ties, he has always been concerned with the needs of the business community.

“All rhetoric aside, I think what you’ve got to do is make the economy work for all sides of the equation,” Cedillo said.

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