One East San Jose school board member is seeking higher office to continue supporting marginalized communities.
Alum Rock Union School District board member Corina Herrera-Loera is making a bid for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat, currently held by Supervisor Cindy Chavez who terms out next year. The district is centered in San Jose, and includes swaths of downtown and East San Jose.
She’s the latest to enter the race for the seat, following former San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco and Betty Duong, current chief of staff for Chavez. Supporters said Herrera-Loera is a determined leader with strong roots in East San Jose.
“I’ve been able to bring everything that I’ve lived through, to then identify the needs,” Herrera-Loera told San José Spotlight. “Day in and day out, I’m dealing with the hardest to reach youth and families.”
Herrera-Loera, 44, said her upbringing as the daughter of Indigenous and Latino immigrants gave her a close view of inequity in East San Jose. She said she remembers when her father, a farmworker, would get a minor raise and it would mean the difference between eating beans all week or having some meat for family meals.
She said as a county deputy juvenile probation officer for 18 years and current Alum Rock trustee, she’s been able to address ongoing inequality while also advocating for youth to be connected to their identities. Herrera-Loera’s colleagues appointed her to the Alum Rock Union School District board in 2019 and she won reelection in 2020.
“When our most needy get what they need… when we’re able to address those issues, then we all win,” Herrera-Loera told San José Spotlight. “It’s time to increase opportunities for all across the board, no matter our ethnicity, income range or who we are.”
Herrera-Loera also served as a county public information officer during the COVID-19 pandemic and as a women’s advocate coordinator at Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. She holds a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University in criminology and social change, and also has a master’s degree in public administration from National University.
Tamara Alvarado, community leader and former Mexican Heritage Plaza School of Arts & Culture executive director, said she’s known Herrera-Loera since 1997 when Herrera-Loera was a San Jose State University student. They worked together to increase higher education access for first-generation, low income students. She said Herrera-Loera secured a job at the university’s pre-college program even though didn’t normally hire freshmen.
They’ve stayed friends in the decades since and have worked closely on cultural projects with the Calpulli Tonalehqueh Aztec Dance group, Alvarado added. She said Herrera-Loera is a proven leader who learns all she can before coming up with creative solutions with her colleagues.
“The same fire she has in her eyes now, I saw that fire in 1997, and it’s been consistent. She has consistently held up our communities,” Alvarado told San José Spotlight. “What I observed in Corina is that she’s capable of processing, digesting, learning and then thinking creatively and building with her fellow elected officials.”
Scott Myers-Lipton, an SJSU sociology professor and lead author of the Silicon Valley Pain Index, said he’s been a fan of Herrera-Loera since she was his student more than two decades ago. He said she has a track record of community service and has advocated for Latinas to enter college.
“There’s no one I think that’s more qualified than Corina Herrera-Loera for being supervisor in our community,” he told San José Spotlight. “She helps resolve problems, difficult problems around injustice.”
Minh Pham, president of the Alum Rock Union School District board, said Herrera-Loera is a strong advocate for ethnic studies courses in schools and also co-chairs the district committee on teacher housing.
“She would be a very strong candidate,” Pham told San José Spotlight. “She is definitely very community minded and also very steadfast in her beliefs.”
Herrera-Loera said her priorities as a supervisor will be supporting family and youth services, tackling the housing crisis and expanding resources for seniors.
“I’m called now to continue to make a difference… but now at the level of the county board supervisor,” she said.
Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.
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