Three Newly Elected California Leaders Reflect College’s Civic Impact

Side by side portrait photos of three Aggies elected in 2020 to public office in California
Three Aggies elected this fall to California public offices (from left): David Cortese (B.A., political science, ’78) to the Senate; Alex Lee (B.A. political science, ’17) to the Assembly; Hipolito Angel Cerros, a student majoring in science and technology studies, to the Lindsay City Council.

A student and two alumni of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science assume new positions as elected public officials this month — science and technology studies major Hipolito Angel Cerros on the city council in the Tulare County community of Lindsay and political science graduates Alex Lee and David Cortese in the California Legislature.

A student in City Hall

Cerros, a fifth-year student and an aspiring attorney, will be sworn in Dec. 8 to the first all-Hispanic Lindsay City Council in his hometown, where the vast majority of its nearly 13,000 residents are Hispanic.

“I am beyond happy to see more youths involved in these kinds of decision processes. I think together we are redefining what it means to be involved in politics. I say this because, for once, my friends, peers and youths in general are actually excited about local politics and I think this is so unique considering the place we are at in society. I would also like to thank and give recognition to my mentors in [science and technology studies] who have taught me so many things that have helped me prepare for local politics. A huge shoutout to Professors Lindsay Poirier, Emily Merchant, Gerardo Con Diaz and Joseph Dumit. Without their mentorship, I don’t think I could have done it!”

— Hipolito Angel Cerros, a science and technology studies major and incoming Lindsay City Council member

California's first Gen Z lawmaker

Lee, a former ASUCD president who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2017, was elected to an Assembly seat representing a Bay Area district that encompasses San Jose, Santa Clara and Fremont. At 25, he is the youngest state legislator in more than 80 years and has made headlines as “California’s first Gen Z lawmaker” in the Los Angeles Times.

South Bay senator

Cortese, a 1978 graduate and an attorney who has served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors since 2008, is the newly elected state senator representing most of San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga.

Lee and Cortese, both Democrats, will be sworn in along with other new lawmakers on Dec. 7.

Read about their elections:

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

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