Emanuel Pleitez , a 26-year-old El Sereno native, was never expected to win the race to replace Hilda Solis as representative for the 32nd Congressional District. In his first election, Pleitez came in behind fellow Democrats State Sen. Gill Cedillo and former assembly woman Judy Chu in the May 19 race. Chu emerged victorious but still faces a runoff in July that she is expected to win.
But Pleitz did attract more attention, support and money (in excess of $200,000) than expected from an energetic and young base of supporters. He also attracted the wrath of some members of the Cedillo camp who claimed that the young rival had siphoned voters away from the veteran politician and cost Latinos a Congressional seat. Now, Pleitz is job hunting and trying to figure out where his next move will take him. "If I would run again, I wouldn't know right now what that office would be."
Q & A with Emanuel Pleitez
How have you spent your time since the election?
The first couple of weeks after the election were spent cleaning everything up in our office and the houses where our full-time volunteers slept. The last two weeks, I've spent time with my mom in LA and my fiancee in DC going back and forth.
What are you doing now for a living?
I'm looking for a job or the next project to work on.
Have you decided that you want to run for public office again? If so, what would you be interested in?
I have not decided to run for public office again, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet that I will run again. Instead of the question being: what would you be interested in, the better question would be what would I be best prepared or qualified for? If I would run again, I wouldn't know right now what that office would be.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from the campaign?
Labor endorsement matters a lot in the 32nd District.
Did the Cedillo campaign ad featuring some of your Facebook photos make you think twice about participating in politics?
No it didn't. If one wants to run for a high stakes office, one has to be ready for any opposition effort.
Some folks in the Cedillo camp complained that you split the Latino vote. Have you made any effort to reconcile with Cedillo?
Yes, I've reached out to Senator Cedillo after the election. It's important to have support of any individual and group, such as established Latino elected officials, that will help you raise money and reach voters. We showed that the support to raise money and reach voters doesn't all come from the established elected officials. In this case, though, Judy Chu had the most support from established Latino elected officials that were connected to the district. I guess it does work.
You attracted a very loyal and enthusiastic group of supporters. How are you going to keep their interest after the election?
We will remain in communication and stay involved in the community. We will continue finding and empowering young, talented leaders ready for public office.
What part of El Sereno did you grow up in and where do you live now?
I grew up in different parts of El Sereno, most recently across the street from Sierra Park Elementary School on Warwick and Cronus.
Where do you like to spend your time in the neighborhood?
El Sereno Park was my hub where I grew up playing sports. I still like to go there and play basketball every once in a while.
Personally, what's next? Do you plan to travel, marry, go back to school?
I'm still trying to figure it out.
Photos from Emanuel Pleitez