Los Angeles — A young Filipina Los Angeles City Hall staple has worked her way to a historic post in the city’s public works commission.
Philippine-born Jessica Caloza is the new Los Angeles public works commissioner. She’s one of the city’s youngest commissioners, and the first Pinay to serve the agency in charge of keeping America’s second largest city up and running.
“It’s really a testament to this mayor and administration that they believe in our generation, and that we can make tough decisions no matter how old you are, and that’s important. Age is also part of representation just as gender is. And just as ethnicity. We want to make sure that people who are going to live in our age in these communities have a voice on the board and on these issues that really affect every single person. It doesn’t matter how old you are everyone walks on the sidewalks. Everyone drives on the streets.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Caloza who has served as his director of scheduling to fill the seat on the 5-member board of public works.
“When we were making the decision about appointing the next public works commissioner this was a no brainer for me. The best person in the city and this administration was the second closest person to my office and was right there in front of us every single day.”
In a council chamber packed with family and supporters, she spoke about her Philippine roots, as the council voted for unanimously to confirm her as commissioner.
The youngest of 6 children, the Caloza family migrated from Quezon City to Southern California when Jessica was 4.
Her parents, say she already showed her work dedication at an early age. She eventually went on to serve the Obama administration, and the office of the mayor, while working with several community groups.
“I don’t have any idea but way back when she was in school she used to study so hard, and she don’t ask for help to do her homework,” said her mother Gigi. “And during her high school days, she’s been through a lot of writings and in literature, but we didn’t think she would’ve gone this far.
As a public works commissioner, Caloza will oversee the bureau of engineering, and with a department in charge of a billion dollar budget, she’s already pushing for the use of data and transparency.
“It is a safety net for so many families so i want to continue promoting pushing that because people rely on the city to provide for them and making sure that the metrics are disaggregated so that they’re more helpful to city council and really all communities.”
And as a first-generation Filipina, whose second language is English, her other priority is to expand language services.
As a mayoral appointment, Caloza is scheduled to serve until at least when Mayor Garcetti’s term ends in 2021.