Author: Ryan

Rick Caruso is the First Latino Mayor of Santa Ana

Rick Caruso is the First Latino Mayor of Santa Ana

Column: Rick Caruso’s Latino appeal isn’t bought — it’s real. But is it enough to win?

I was at a small breakfast meeting with other members of the National Latino Coalition and two of its board members at El Toro Hospital (a retirement community in Santa Ana). I had a chance to catch up with the local leader who has been working on this project for a decade.

Rick Caruso, who is not a doctor, but was hired as a social worker at El Toro after it was closed in 2002, is just the kind of person who is needed to build political support for Obamacare in Santa Ana. He has been active in the community on issues of health care, immigration and education, and has served on the school board, city council, fire board and school board.

His work has been supported by elected officials and the local labor union, the United Food & Commercial Workers Council. He has worked on social issues through the United Farm Workers and he has served on state boards on behalf of other community organizations. He is a former California Peace Corps volunteer and an ex-FBI agent. He has a master’s degree from UCLA.

I asked him if he ever worried about his Latino heritage being used to advance policies that could take away his career. He smiled and laughed. “We have been building relationships in the community that will outlive the government.”

Rick Caruso is a Latino who is helping to create a positive identity for the Latino community, and doing it in a city that has traditionally been a political graveyard.

He has an uncanny ability to draw people into his mission. When he was working at El Toro, he was one of a few Latino leaders in Santa Ana to be hired by Mayor Miguel Pulido to run the public school system there. He has been the one to help people to learn about the health care policy that the mayor says was a failure, and to educate people on how to get health care now that it’s free.

He is now working on outreach to Latino voters in the area, in hopes of persuading them to get involved in a November election in which Democrats hope to win four congressional seats.

He will not be using Caruso to take credit for pushing out the first Latino mayor of Santa Ana. It happened

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