Mayor Norma Torres was elected assemblywoman in the 61st District on Tuesday, making her the first person of Guatemalan descent elected to the California Legislature, according to representatives of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
"There are a lot of firsts nowadays," said Xochitl Arellano, spokeswoman for the caucus. "The fact that we now have the first Guatemalan in the Legislature just adds to that. It can only help represent us all better in California."
Torres, who was born in Escuintla, Guatemala, was 5 years old when she was sent to live in Whittier with an uncle.
In 2000, Torres won a seat on the Pomona City Council, and six years later she became mayor, winning by 250 votes.
This time around, Torres took 60% of the vote in a race against Republican Wendy Maier and Libertarian Michael Mendez. She takes the seat previously occupied by Democratic Assemblywoman Nell Soto, who announced her retirement because of illness earlier this year.
The district covers the western San Bernardino County cities of Chino, Montclair and Ontario, along with Pomona and other parts of eastern Los Angeles County.
-- Paloma Esquivel