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Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician, Business Executive

Grassroots Beginning In Politics

Napolitano, who is California's two-term congressional representative from the 34th district, is well-versed in Latino culture and the needs of Hispanic citizens. Born in the Mexican border town Brownsville, Texas, on December 4, 1936, to Miguel and Maria Alicia Ledezma Flores, Napolitano was christened Graciela Flores. She completed high school, divorced her first husband, and raised their children as a single mom. In 1976 she married New York entrepreneur Frank Napolitano and assisted him in opening a restaurant. The couple settled in Norwalk, California and Napolitano established a thriving career there as an employee of Ford Motor Company. In retirement, she shared her husband's enthusiasm for the local Roman Catholic parish and for community activism.

To better her business career, Napolitano studied at Cerritos College, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and Technical Southwest College. She expressed concern for the Norwalk community through volunteerism in community family guidance, parish work, and membership in the Lions Club. Her rise up the political ladder began in 1986, when she pursued a four-year term as councilwoman in Norwalk and, simultaneously, as mayor from 1989 to 1990. Because of her involvement in solving local problems and strengthening the economy, she won re-election to the city council by the highest vote margin in Norwalk history. Central to her platform were citizens' needs for more jobs, a diversified job base, downtown redevelopment, and improvements to inter-urban transportation.

Upon election to the California Assembly in 1992, Napolitano championed international trade, environmental protection, improved highway development, and the financial needs of beginning entrepreneurs. In addition, she supported economic expansion and local-based solutions to family issues like teen suicide and domestic violence in the Hispanic community. As a proponent of American small business, she advocated the expansion of foreign markets for American products and better-paying jobs linked with trade. In 1996 she joined California legislator Richard Katz in sponsoring a bill requiring the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to plan more efficient, competitive facilities. At the local level, she led annual sessions of the International Trade and Procurement Conference.

At a Glance . . .

Born Graciela Flores on December 4, 1936, in Brownsville, Texas; married (divorced); married Frank Napolitano, 1976; children: Yolando, Fred Mus-quiz, Jr., Edward, Michael, Cynthia. Education: Attended business courses at Cerritos College, Los Angeles Trade Tech, and Technical Southwest College. Religion: Roman Catholic. Politics: Democrat.

Career: Ford Motor Company, until 1986; Norwalk City Council member, 1986-92; Norwalk City mayor, 1989-90; California State assemblywoman, 1992-98; U.S. House of Representatives, 1998-.

Memberships: Lions Club; New Democrat Coalition; Community Family Guidance volunteer.

Addresses: Capitol Office—1407 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515-0001. Phone: (202) 225-5256. Fax: (202)225-0027. E-mail: grace@mail.house.gov. District Office—11627 East Telegraph Road #100, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670. Phone: (562) 801-2134. Fax: (562) 949-9144. Home— 1712 West Beverly Boulevard, Suite 101, Montebello, CA 90640-3934.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerGrace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician, Business Executive Biography - Grassroots Beginning In Politics, Spirited U. S. Congresswoman, Campaigned For Health And The Environment