Adele Andrade-Stadler was involved in politics as a volunteer well before she even thought about voting. She volunteered alongside her mother during the Hubert Humphrey campaign in the 1968 election against Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Since then, politics on the state, local, and national levels has been in her blood and in her life.
Her own political career began in 1999 as a field representative for state Sen. Hilda Solis, the current Secretary of Labor for the Obama administration. When Solis went on to become congresswoman, Andrade-Stadler became her assistant district director, and eventually district director. As field representative and district director, Andrade-Stadler worked in constituent services, ran college fairs, went to school board meetings, distributed information to constituents about changes in laws, honored community leaders and more for the 32nd Congressional District, which at the time included the cities of Valinda, El Monte, South El Monte, West Covina, Covina, Rosemead, Monterey Park and Baldwin Park.
Following her work with the congresswoman, in 2004 Andrade-Stadler won the election to the Alhambra School Board. She began as board clerk and is now the immediate past president.
In her role as a leader of this L.A. County school district, she has continued to stay involved in politics on a national level, including being active in Obama’s campaign along with the Latino Democrats of Alhambra. As current president of the organization, she works with members to fund-raise and provide volunteers for the campaign. In addition, the group distributes information to the Alhambra community about local, state and federal policy; organizes voter-registration drives and holds community meetings in order to get more people involved.
Andrade-Stadler has been a supporter of Obama since the senator from Illinois became the Democrat’s presidential candidate in 2008. She is most enthusiastic about his fight for the middle class, which she believes is tied to Latino success. She agrees with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s opinion that the Latino agenda is the same as others– the American dream–as he expressed in a recent OurWeekly interview. However, she points out that issues facing Latinos such as immigration differ from the general American public.
But, she notes that Latino struggles are similar to those of many African Americans that live in poverty and face poor public education systems and limited access to health insurance. She believes those issues set Latinos and African Americans apart from others.
Healthcare, education, and immigration reform are the top issues for the Latino community, she says.
Andrade-Stadler noted that the president’s Affordable Care Act now provides insurance to 9 million Latinos.
She also mentioned that President Obama has increased the amount of money students receive for Pell Grants, which provides federal grants for low-income students based on financial need.
According the Alhambra activist, approximately 150,000 Latino college students receive Pell Grants. Beyond helping students, Andrade-Stadler was particularly enthusiastic about help for schools by way of the American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) Act of 2009. This economic stimulus package is designed to save and create jobs, and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and green energy. She’s happy that ARRA funds were made available to school districts.
“What we were able to do is prevent additional layoffs . . .and it allowed us to have our extra teachers helping with intervention programs,” said Andrade-Stadler, explaining how the ARRA impacted her own school district. The intervention programs included after-school tutoring programs for students who need additional help in particular subjects.
Andrade-Stadler also cited the Dream Act as an indication of Obama’s support of Latinos. The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which the president strongly supports, will provide permanent residency for certain immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were children. It is said to provide legal residency for approximately 2.1 million people, a majority of whom are Latino.
“The Dream Act sends a clear sign for Latinos [that] he has a commitment to comprehensive immigration reform,” said Andrade-Stadler.
In addition to addressing those issues, she says that the president has appointed Latino government officials.
“Oftentimes our kids don’t see our faces in presidential administrations,” she said, but noted that Obama appointed Hilda Solis as his secretary of labor and Sonia M. Sotomayor as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
When discussing what the president can improve on, Andrade-Stadler said that he should continue his commitment to immigration reform, continue to support the middle class, expand the Affordable Care Act to include more of the uninsured, push for environmental justice laws, and focus more attention on public education throughout the nation, meaning investing in public schools.
In addition, as a school board member and longtime supporter of special education, she would like to see more done for public schools. She explains that the public schools must meet mandated requirements for special education; however, the government does not financially support the requirements, so the school districts are left to pay for what the government does not provide, which causes problems in districts that are struggling financially.
“It has been that way for so many years, never fully funded,” she says. Andrade-Stadler believes that the Obama administration needs to fully fund special education.
The Monterey Park native says she doesn’t know if Latino support is stronger or weaker now than in 2008. She believes it has maintained. She explains that she and the Latino Democrats of Alhambra, as well as anyone working for Obama’s campaign, have to show people how Obama has supported them. In a way, the economy is kind of working against him, she says. It is difficult to put a positive spin on his accomplishments when people are dealing with foreclosure and unemployment.
But despite the challenges, the Latino Democrats of Alhambra have continued to work to gain more Latino support for the president. They recently hosted a Democratic roundtable discussion where they invited members of the community, particularly targeting the Latino population, to talk about the policies that the president has pushed. At the meeting, they talked about what they think the president can improve upon.
“Their input is critical” says Andrade-Stadler. “Many people were interested in healthcare,” she explained. “This was before the recent healthcare reform passed [and] many were delighted about the Dream Act.”