GARDENA, CA — She’s known for her handbag designs, but now Gina Alexander is hoping to bag a seat at Gardena City Hall.
Her decision to run for office stemmed from a National Federation of Filipino American Associations, or NaFFAA, conference, which promoted empowerment through political participation.
“I just want to make a difference, there has to be more Filipinas on this platform, so I’m going for it.”
Besides being a handbag designer, Alexander is also a community organizer, working with charities involving adoption and foster care. Many of the entrepreneurs she has mentored came out to support her during a recent fundraiser.
It may be Gina Alexander’s first attempt at an election campaign, but her family is no stranger to public office.
In the 1980’s, Alexander’s father, Cesar Lopez was among the pioneers of Southern California’s Filipino American political scene, serving as mayor of neighboring Wilmington.
“As a teenager I was campaigning, I was stuffing enveloped I was mailing out, asking for donations, I was campaigning, what I didn’t realize I was doing, oh it’s just another thing that my dad is part of the business.”
There are eight candidates vying for a spot on Gardena’s city council, including one incumbent. Some 58,000 people live in Gardena, a quarter of them Asian Americans. Alexander, Miss Gardena 1988 who went on to compete for Miss California, talked about issues she plans to address if elected.
“Teens, a lot of family issues, of course foster adoption, big advocate for safety, it’s about feeling safe in the city.”
Mail-in ballots will go out in February while online voting begins on the 22nd leading up to the primary election.
If Alexander qualifies, she advances to a run-off in November.