For over two decades, Arleta resident and entrepreneur Ana Valentino has worked as a childcare provider but it was only two years ago that workers like her earned the right to unionize and collectively bargain with the state, allowed under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Now, Valentino is worried that thousands of California child care providers could lose hard-fought gains under the governor, who is facing a recall effort.
A special election on Sept. 14 will determine Newsom’s future. Recall proponents have criticized the governor for imposing strict pandemic protocols that slowed down the state’s economy.
The governor and his supporters might have reasons to be concerned if the meager crowd that turned out for a rally against the recall, held in Sun Valley on Saturday, Aug. 28, is a legitimate indicator of Newsom’s level of support among voters — or interest in the election itself.
For her part, Valentino, 52, opposes the recall.
“I’m here to support the governor,” Valentino said at the rally, which also included elected officials, union leaders, teachers and activists.
Valentino added that the now-besieged governor “helped pass (Assembly Bill) 378 that allowed us to form a union.”
Promoted as “The Valley Votes No. Stop the Recall” on social media, the event took place at Chef Robért Motion Picture & Television Catering, a business serving the Hollywood industry that is located at the corner of Glenoaks and Penrose. It also included a small caravan against the recall around Sun Valley.
The political event took place about three weeks before the election, as the vast majority of 22 million ballots mailed out to California voters earlier this month are yet to be returned. About 4 million ballots have been collected, according to state election officials.
Speakers at the weekend rally highlighted the importance of Latino suffrage.
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the San Fernando Valley, representing over 42 percent of the region’s population, according to the US Census figures. The number is higher citywide. The city of Los Angeles has more than 1.8 million Latinos, 48 percent of the population.
Statewide, there are 15 million Latinos, amounting to 39 percent.
Getting the Latino vote out for Newsom was a clear priority at the rally. The majority of the dozen speakers spoke Spanish, delivering bilingual speeches.
Even Robért Lamkin, the owner of Chef Robért Catering, delivered his message in Español.
“I speak in support of Gov. Newsom and against the Republican recall,” said Lamkin in Spanish to much applause and cheering. He praised Newsom for helping working-class people and small businesses, especially for signing SB 144 to invest $330 million to expand the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program to retain and attract production jobs.
According to the chef, that legislation helps companies like his to hire more people, pay better wages and offer health insurance and other benefits. He also warned that recalling Newsom could destroy those accomplishments.
“Help our families,” he urged in Spanish. “We have to stop the Republican recall. Vote no.”
Describing the attempt to remove Newsom as a partisan Republican campaign was a common theme at the rally. So was highlighting the governor’s actions and achievements since he assumed offices in January of 2019, many during the pandemic.
“This governor has invested in the Latino community here in Los Angeles, across the state and here in the Valley,” said Mark Gonzalez, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. He credited Newsom with providing the “largest state stimulus” in the country during the Covid-19 crisis and “making two years of community college free.”
For her part, Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-39) also stated that Newsom supports small businesses and reminded people that the governor had visited local businesses in the City of San Fernando back in April.
“He has invested more than $4 billion (in) small businesses,” she said. The legislator also noted that the governor signed a bill to provide MediCal for undocumented senior citizens.
LA City Council President Nury Martinez said Newsom showed leadership in the pandemic, helping deliver 47 million vaccines so far.
“We need to protect California from becoming another Texas,” said LA City Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, whose 7th District includes Pacoima, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, Sun Valley and Lake View Terrace. She also noted that Newsom appointed Alex Padilla, a former LA Councilmember who represented the San Fernando Valley, to the US Senate after former Senator Kamala Harris became the Vice President.
Labor leader Ron Herrera warned against taking for granted that Newsom will survive the recall.
“If we are complacent, working families in the San Fernando Valley are going to lose, predominantly Latinos are going to lose,” said the western region vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “You cannot take (this election) for granted.”
Helped by a walker and two helpers, activist Irene Tovar approached the podium and said, “We decided that we had to be loud and clear that the Mexican/Latino community was not going to let a Trump Republican… take over our future.” The leader of the Latin American Civic Association and a member of the L.A. City’s Human Relations Commission credited Newsom with creating community vaccination centers across the Valley, and Los Angeles, to help immunize people who lack transportation to reach big sites like the one at Dodger Stadium.
Some Newsom critics have called out the governor for not practicing what he preached in the middle of the pandemic. Newsom was caught attending a private gathering at an expensive restaurant in the middle of the pandemic back in November while asking most Californians to avoid large groups and stay home.
For Roberto Valentino, 60, who also attended the rally along with wife Ana, the childcare provider, one mistake doesn’t warrant removing the governor.
“He’s a human being,” said the retired car glass installer. “I oppose the recall because Newsom has done a good job….helping with vaccinations, free breakfasts for kids and much more.
“We don’t want another governor to mess up all that Newsom has done,” he concluded.