At a Glance
- Career History: California state Assembly (2007), Long Beach City Council (2000-2007)
- Birthday: April 14, 1962
- Birthplace: Los Angeles
- Alma Mater: B.A., UCLA, 1984; MBA, University of Southern California, 1996
- Religion: Methodist
- Committees: Homeland Security Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Path To Power
Born in Los Angeles, Richardson is the child of a mixed-race marriage. She has described how as a young child she decided to become a public servant upon witnessing the racism her mother encountered. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, she taught at a Montessori preschool. In 1987, she started work at Xerox Corp. She later decided to return to school, earning an MBA from the University of Southern California in 1996.
Richardson launched her political career with an unsuccessful run for the state Assembly in 1996; she lost to Gerrie Schipske in the Democratic primary. The controversial race saw Richardson's campaign attack the openly-lesbian Schipske for her commitment to a "radical gay rights agenda" in a mailer Schipske's allies denounced as homophobic.
Since joining Congress, Richardson has supported Democrats' domestic priorities, from the February 2009 stimulus package and new regulations on the financial industry to the Waxman-Markey bill, which established a cap-and-trade system to reduce global greenhouse emissions. In fall 2008, she voted in favor of the financial bailout bill.
In 2009 and 2010, Richardson enthusiastically backed Democratic efforts to reform the health-care system, calling the bill's passage "a giant step forward in beginning the reform of our nation's current neglectful healthcare system." However, she regretted that the bill failed to create a government-run insurance plan; a few months prior, she had joined a bloc of progressive lawmakers in pledging to oppose a public option-less bill.
A member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Richardson secured her first congressional nomination in 2007 in part because of the support of prominent African-American politicians like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who also represents Southern California.
Richardson was also boosted by the endorsements of then-California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and former Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally (D-Calif.), whose help also proved important in her 2006 Assembly race.