Background

Background

WATSONVILLE MAYOR

LUIS ALEJO 

Luis Alejo was born and raised in Watsonville and his family came to work in the agricultural fields of the Santa Clara, Salinas, Central and Pajaro Valleys as migrant farm workers in the 1950s. 

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He currently works as a public interest attorney, and has assisted thousands of local families, parents, students and workers.  He began his career in public service as a community organizer at the age of 19.  Since then, he has served on numerous city and county commissions, including serving as the vice-chair of the Watsonville Planning Commission and as a member of the Watsonville Library Board.


Luis graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in 1997 with dual bachelors (B.A.) degrees in political science and Chicano studies. In May 2001, he obtained his juris doctorate (J.D.) from UC Davis School of Law, King Hall, with a concentration in public interest law. In June 2003, Luis received his master’s of education degree (Ed.M) from Harvard University with a concentration in administration, planning and social policy.

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After finishing his graduate studies, Luis returned to his hometown of Watsonville to work as a staff attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), a statewide non-profit legal advocacy organization that champions the rights of working families in California.  He now works as a staff attorney for the Monterey County Superior Court, where he assists thousands of self-represented litigants who cannot afford private attorneys.


Luis was previously a Jesse M. Unruh Fellow for the California State Assembly at the State Capital in Sacramento.  In the 2002 legislative session, he drafted and staffed numerous bills and resolutions. He also worked as a research assistant for the Harvard Civil Rights Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he worked on numerous education equity issues. Luis is also a former high school teacher that worked with "at risk" high school students, and is currently a California State Advisory Committee member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (nominated by former California Supreme Court Justice and former Commission Vice-Chairman Cruz Reynoso).

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Luis is a 1992 Watsonville High School graduate and was the team captain and co-MVP of the Wildcatz Wrestling Team.  He was a two-time county wrestling champion (SCCAL) and placed 2nd in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Regional Championships.  After high school, he continued wrestling for the Gavilan Community College Wrestling Team where he was also the team captain and MVP, and placed in the California Community College State Wrestling Championships.  Due to his high academic achievement, Luis also made the Academic All-American Wrestling Team while at Gavilan.

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MAYOR PRO TEM ALEJO CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE FOLLOWING COMMITTEES AND SUBCOMMITTEES:

-  Board of Directors, Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG)

- City/County/School Governmental Relations Committee

-  Santa Cruz County Dropout Prevention Task Force 

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc Mural Subcommittee

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc Graffiti Ordinance Subcommittee

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc Political Signs Subcommittee

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc City Revenue Subcommittee

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc Legislation Subcommittee  

-  Mayor's Ad-Hoc General Plan Litigation Subcommittee 

EDUCATION BACKGROUND: 

  •  Law degree (juris doctorate) from UC Davis School of Law.
  •  Master’s of education degree from Harvard University.
  •  Dual bachelor’s of arts degrees from UC Berkeley.  Honors graduate.
  • Associate of Arts degree from Gavilan Community College (Gilroy, CA)
  •  1992 Watsonville High School graduate.
  •  Attended local public schools, including McQuiddy Elementary, Salsipuedes School and E.A. Hall Middle School.

 
EXPERIENCE:  

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  • Public interest attorney providing legal assistance to thousands of low-income residents who cannot afford private attorneys.
  • Former legislative aide in Sacramento for Assemblymember Manny Diaz (San Jose), first hand experience in passing statewide laws and working with different interest groups.
  • Former alternative education high school teacher that worked with "at-risk" high school students.
  • Former research assistant for the Harvard Civil Rights Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts focused on education policy.

 
COMMUNITY SERVICE:

  • Former vice-chair and commissioner of the Watsonville Planning Commission representing District 2, 2006-2008.
  • Registered hundreds of voters as the director of the Pajaro Valley Voter Registration Project in 2006.
  • California Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, 2001-2008.
  • Watsonville Library Board, 2005-2006.
  • Watsonville General Plan Steering Committee, 2004-2006.
  • County Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Commission, 2003-2006.
  • English Learner Master Plan Task Force, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, 2007.
  • City of Watsonville Blue Ribbon Committee for Sustainable Revenue – member, 2006.
  • County Transportation Funding Task Force – member, 2007.
  • Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee, District 4 Representative, 2004 - present.
  • 2008 Congressional District 17 Delegate for Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention (Denver, CO).
  • Central California Vice-Chair of the Chicano Latino Caucus of the California Democratic Party.

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PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS:

  • NAACP of Santa Cruz County
  • Santa Cruz County Bar Association
  • Monterey County Bar Association
  • La Raza Lawyers Association of Santa Cruz County
  • La Raza Lawyers Association of Monterey County
  • Salinas Valley LULAC

 


SERVICE AWARDS:  

My work has been recognized through numerous awards including :

  • 2009 Award of Merit by the Legal Aid Association of California and the California Access to Justice Commisssion (for work in providing access to the courts in Monterey County).
  • 2009 Tony Hill Community Service Award (by the University of California Santa Cruz) at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation.
  • 2008 John F. Kennedy Award for Outstanding Public Service by the California Democratic Party (Young Democrat of the Year).
  • 2006 Democratic Region 9 Volunteer of the Year by the California Democratic Party
  • 2006 Santa Cruz County Democrat of the Year
  •  2004 United Way Community Hero Award.
  •  2001 Martin Luther King Community Service Award by UC Davis School of Law.
  • 2001 California Rural Citizenship Campaign Community Service Award.
  •  The Association of Mexican American Educators Community Service Award.