Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton Announces Campaign for State Senate District 28 With Endorsement of CA Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
PALM SPRINGS — Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton, who ran unopposed for City Council in November 2020, on Oct. 4 officially entered the race for California’s 28th State Senate District with the support of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Middleton, who made history in 2017 by becoming the first transgender person in California history elected to a non-judicial position, currently serves as Palm Springs’ Mayor Pro Tem. She would be the first openly transgender State Legislator in California’s history. SD-28, an open seat that went for Joe Biden in 2020, currently has a two-point Democratic registration advantage.
Middleton launched her campaign for Senate by releasing the following statement:
“I’m thrilled today to be announcing my campaign for State Senate District 28. I’m running to make a difference in Sacramento and be an effective voice for the 28th District by bringing pragmatic, practical solutions that will improve the lives of all Californians.
I grew up in a working-class East Los Angeles community. The grandchild of Dust Bowl Oklahomans, I grew up in a California that made it possible for me to be the first in my family to attend college. The California that won the 20th century provided world-class education, transportation networks, communication systems and economic opportunity. We can do this again.
I spent my adult life in California state government in our workers’ compensation system. I have seen up close government succeed, and I have seen it fail. The difference always comes down to leadership.
Throughout my career, I have been a leader who listens, unifies and gets things done for the people I represent. It is time that Riverside County and the 28th District receive our fair share of California’s budget. Our region is one of the fastest growing regions of the country. To win the 21st century, we need a local and regional infrastructure built for the 21st century. We cannot wait to address climate change. It is past time we ensure opportunity for all does in fact include everyone.
Growing up, I remember standing in line in my elementary school to get the polio vaccine at a time the disease was ravaging America. The government came together to administer a life-saving vaccine, and there was nothing political or partisan about it. Tragically today, when we are yet again threatened by a virus that kills hundreds of thousands of people, some for the sake of partisan warfare are provoking fear, division and irresponsibility. I will lead by example.
In the State Senate, I will work to return our state and country back to a place where a crisis—whether it be a pandemic, wildfire, or earthquake— is not an opportunity for partisanship but for us to work together to save lives. In our state, it is always going to be not if, but when and how bad is the next emergency.
My foundation is the neighborhoods I represent. My path to being the first transgender Californian to be elected to a political office began by standing up for Palm Springs neighborhoods and street repair funding. I will go to work every day in the State Senate to improve the quality of your life, in your neighborhood.
The simpler tasks have already been accomplished. The challenges left for our region are the tough ones — climate change, inequity, crime, economic security, healthcare access, rebuilding our infrastructure and homelessness. I am a clear-eyed optimist who believes our best years are in front of us. This is America. We are Californians. We inherited tremendous opportunity. Now it is our responsibility to build on the investments of our parents and grandparents.
My newly-born grandson is expected to live to see the 22nd century. The business of California is building the schools, the equality of opportunity, transportation and communication networks, the jobs and climate that give my grandchild and every child the foundation to build their California Dream.
Please join me. I would be honored to have your support.”
The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus also released the following statement with their endorsement of Middleton’s campaign:
“The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is thrilled to endorse Lisa Middleton’s candidacy for State Senate because we need more bold, innovative LGBTQ+ leaders who are ready to take on California’s toughest issues and deliver for our communities. Throughout her career, Lisa has been a trailblazing champion for the LGBTQ community as well as a dedicated public servant and activist working to uplift her city, particularly on the Palm Springs City Council. Additionally, the California Legislature should reflect our state’s dynamic population, and it’s far past time that transgender Californians were represented in Sacramento. We know that Lisa will be a pioneering, relentless advocate for the 28th District and all Californians, working tirelessly to make the state more inclusive, fair, and just. We’re with her 100% and look forward to helping Lisa get elected.”
Additionally, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer released the following statement with her endorsement of Middleton’s campaign:
“I’m thrilled to announce my support for Lisa Middleton’s campaign for Senate District 28. A fearless fighter for the people she represents, Lisa is a compassionate, principled and savvy leader who will fight for those most in need in Sacramento while bringing people and ideas to the table to solve big problems. California needs Lisa’s forward-thinking ideas, compassion, grit and determination in the State Senate. I’m proud to offer her my enthusiastic endorsement.”
Middleton is a neighborhood leader and longtime public servant who currently serves as the Mayor Pro Tem of Palm Springs. When she was first elected to the City Council in 2017, Middleton became the first transgender person elected to a political office in the state of California.
On the Palm Springs City Council, Lisa helped deliver PPE and vaccines to residents during the COVID pandemic, led passage of a solar requirement on all new homes, increased the utilization of green energy by Palm Springs residents and businesses, helped support a booming local economy, increased funding for public safety services and street repairs, helped lead efforts for a generational public works project to bring daily rail service to the San Gorgonio Pass and Coachella Valley, addressed inequity, highlighted the unique challenges of LGBTQ seniors and led by example as a transgender woman in elected office.
Additionally, Middleton currently serves on the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and the Sunline Transit Board of Directors, where she works with partners from neighboring cities to provide high-quality transportation services to the region. She is also a dedicated regional and statewide leader as a member of the League of California Cities (Cal Cities) Board of Directors, including serving as Chair of the Cal Cities Revenue & Taxation Policy Committee, and the California State Department of Transportation Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force.
Prior to her election to the City Council, Lisa served as a member of the Palm Springs Planning Commission, Chairwoman of the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS), and Interim Executive Director of the Desert LGBTQ Center.
In April 2019, Gov. Newsom appointed Middleton to the Board of Administrators of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which provides pensions to 1.9 million people and health benefits to over 1.5 million people with investment assets exceeding $450 billion. She serves as Chair of the organization’s Risk & Audit Committee and Vice-Chair of the Governance Committee.
This came after Middleton retired from her 36-year-career with California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund, where she moved her way up the ranks. Her first job in government entailed performing workers’ compensation audits in the factories and meat-packing plants not far from where she grew up. At her retirement, she was the Senior Vice President of Internal Affairs; she also previously Chaired California’s Fraud Assessment Commission.
A first-generation college student who grew up in a working-class community in East Los Angeles, Middleton is a graduate of East Los Angeles College, UCLA and USC, receiving her Master’s in Public Administration from USC. Lisa has been widely recognized for her work, earning awards from the California Workers Compensation Institute, Palm Springs Pride Association, Equality California, Democratic Women of the Desert, SAGE/LGBT Senior Advocates, Desert LGBTQ Center and the California State Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.
Together since 2000, Middleton and her wife Cheryl married in 2013 shortly after they moved to Palm Springs. Middleton is the parent of two educators.
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