Richard Alarcon is a lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley, raised by a single mother who retired from The Retail Clerks Union. His father was a small businessman, both of his parents were staunch democrats who inspired his love for community activism. Richard cut his teeth protesting The Vietnam War as a teenager and was later elected the first Latino student body president at his high school. In college he worked for 2 years as a directory assistant operator and was a member of CWA, the job that helped him to pay his way through CSUN. After college he worked as a teacher and then moved into the world of non-profits, emphasizing his efforts on youth oriented job training.
After being elected to office, Richard worked to redevelop the GM plant and subsequently created over 3,000 manufacturing jobs. He closed the Lopez Canyon Landfill, pushed the MTA to upgrade its fleet with clean burning buses and authored the Urban Rivers and Parks Act, which was used in the restoration of the Hansen Dam Recreation Area. In 1997 he spearheaded the creation of the Northeast Valley Enterprise Zone, bringing businesses, and in turn good jobs, to the area.
Richard has always been a very active and vocal champion of workers’ rights. He has carried his strong labor support throughout his career. As a councilmember, he joined forces with many labor groups to support their initiatives, not just as an elected official, but also as an activist, participating in many marches including CWA’s rally against the major telephone companies. As a state legislator, Richard was Chairman of the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and created the Secretary of Labor position, he also doubled the unemployment insurance benefits. Additionally, he was an outspoken supporter, good vote and sponsor on raising minimum wage, overtime pay, justice for janitors, worker’s safety, healthcare requirements for companies and dozens of Pro Union bills.
In 2003 Richard started the Select Committee on Ending Poverty, later called The Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan to End Poverty in California. In the Senate, he created the Cal Home Program which brought in $550 million to expand homeownership opportunities, brought $85 million dollars to community clinics through the Cedillo/Alarcon Primary Care Clinic Act. Alarcon acquired $200 million for teacher recruitment, training and salary increases.
Always pro-teacher, Richard wrote the major piece of education legislation under the Gray Davis administration establishing the Teacher Recruitment Incentive Program (TRIP), the CalTeach Program, which guaranteed that every teacher who received their National Board Certification would intern receive a bonus. Additionally, Alarcon insured that the bill would provide opportunities for raises and benefits for teachers.
Richard was honored for his outstanding public service as a “Local Hero” by ‘The Nation’ magazine and again by the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley with the “Truman Award for the Outstanding Elected Official.”
Alarcon’s passion for service goes beyond public office. As the father of a homeless and mentally ill man, Richard Alarcon is a passionate voice for expanding access to permanent and transitional housing. He works with the Hillview Mental Center on behalf of the homeless on these issues and also in working to provide services within the penal system for those who are mentally ill. Richard has co-founded many non-profits, including his youth leadership training program, Richard Alarcon’s Young Senators, the Gift of Christmas, a toy give-away and the George and Anne Lopez – Richie Alarcon C.A.R.E. Foundation, which has contributed over $50,000 to charitable groups and for scholarships.