"Who wants to, can"--"El que quiere,
Simón Salinas was born in Slayton, Texas and
is one of 12 children of migrant farm workers. His family originates
from the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico where his mother
attended school until the 3rd grade. His father had no formal education
and originally came to the United States under the "Bracero
Program" in the 1940's, living and working in Kansas.
He returned to Mexico, married and years later returned with his
wife and children to the United States in the 1950s, settling in
Cotton picking in Texas
At the age of 7, Simón started working in the
fields picking cotton in Texas. This was the beginning of his experience
as a farmworker over a 15-year period of fieldwork that included
many migratory moves between the states of California and Texas,
working in cotton and orange fields and whatever else was in season.
Later, when Simón and his family picked up contract labor
work, he picked strawberries in the central coast region of California
at the age of 9.
Family's firm foundation
Simón fondly remembers the family's perseverance
and cultural values instilled in him by his family throughout his
growing up years. Even though his family struggled, many times the
14-member family lived in a three-bedroom apartment, he notes his
family's firm foundation gave them the ability to move so
frequently with little upheaval. Due to the seasonal farmwork they
followed, Simón moved constantly and never fully settled
for long periods of time in one place. For his parents, this pattern
continued on until their retirement in 1985.
Simón finally settled permanently in the city
of Watsonville, California at the age of 18, so that he could focus
on his education. He graduated from Watsonville High School in 1974,
and then went on to Claremont McKenna College to receive a Bachelor
of Arts in Political Science and Latin American Studies in 1978.
In 1981, Simón earned a Bilingual Teaching Credential from
San Jose State University and in 1984 graduated with a Jurisprudence
Doctorate from Santa Clara Law School in California.
Father inspired him to pursue education
Simón Salinas credits his motivation in seeking
a higher education to his parents, who instilled in him the motivation
to succeed. He points to the example set by his father who, without
any formal education, taught himself to read and write. It was this
fact that encouraged Simón Salinas to take advantage of the
educational opportunities his parents were never given.
After receiving his law degree, Simón put
his Teaching Credential to good work as a bilingual 6th grade teacher,
giving him hands-on knowledge in California's classrooms.
He also expanded his academic career as a professor at Hartnell
Community College, in Salinas, from 1989 through 1993.
First Mexican-American on Salinas City Council
Simón Salinas began his public service career
in June 1989 when he was elected as the first Mexican-American to
serve on the Salinas City Council. During his tenure with the City
of Salinas, the Simón served as Mayor Pro-Tem. Simón
was elected to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in 1993
and again in 1997. During his second term, he was elected Chair
of the Board of Supervisors becoming the first Mexican-American
to serve on the Board in more than 100 years.
Sworn into the California State Assembly on December
4, 2000, Simón Salinas represents the 28th Assembly District.
This district includes parts of Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa
Cruz Counties and encompasses all of San Benito County. The 28th
Assembly District is a diverse area of the State that is truly growing
and changing. It is rural and heavily agricultural, but is also
beginning to have strong ties to the Silicon Valley and high technology
as many Silicon residents are moving to this area and commuting
to their jobs.
A really active "freshman" year
Assemblyman Simón Salinas capped his first
year in the Legislature by sending 11 bills to the Governor's
desk, nine of which were signed into law. His legislation addressed
district and statewide issues including education, agriculture,
healthcare and transportation. For his work on these issues, Skills
USA -VICA named him Freshman Legislator of the Year and the California
Psychiatric Association named him Legislator of the Year.
Assemblyman Salinas serves as the Vice-Chair of the
Local Government Committee and as a Member of the Agriculture, Education,
Health and Housing and Community Development Committees. He has
also been appointed as the Chair of the Select Committee on Rural
Assemblyman Salinas has lived most of his life in
the Salinas area, growing up around agribusiness. He is the proud
parent of a son, and like many other parents, enjoys attending his
son's soccer games on the weekends.
Remembering his roots
Perhaps one of Simón Salinas' biggest
accomplishments has been his perseverance to succeed and never forgetting
his roots. He never forgets his responsibilities as a public servant
for his constituents, including farmworkers. He returns to his community
in Salinas and is a visible and active member in the community.
Simón sets an example of community involvement and activism
and is a real role model for the Latinos living in this country.
Simon's philosophy: "El que quiere
puede". ("Who wants to, can")