Way back in the early Seventies, before the expensive homes and fancy clothes, Loretta Sanchez was probably a hot little Chola. Young Loretta, in tight shirt, purple eyeliner and frosted hair, all gussied up for a night out in Anaheim. Innocent Loretta, with nary a thought of politics–only of cute tough boys cruising her OC ‘hood. My…How things change. Whatever would Mrs. Brixey’s friends up on the cliffs of Palos Verdes–and down at the Playboy mansion– say to that spectacle?
There are some snapshots of the past not meant for public scrutiny–until it’s time to go slumming in central Orange County, cadging for another term. Then the cute photos come out in otherwise vicious attack mailers–there’s Loretta sitting in an Anaheim City police car, there’s Loretta posing with her family, laughing with friends, kissing cute little Hispanic babies…If you’re Brown, Loretta’s got your back. Better think twice about that. Better ask whose opinion matters most when Loretta puts on the manacles of representation–her poor hometown girls and boys in the district she’s paid to represent, or all those rich Crackers on the cliffs of LA County?The answer, like Ms. Sanchez herself, is as ambiguous as Cold Duck. Is she the anti-Dornan, a shining example of the power of the American Dream? Or is Hereally “more Hispanic” than She? As one of this nation’s few Hispanic representatives, one hopes Sanchez would keep her roots, as opposed to her riches, foremost on the agenda. And she has–kind of. According to LULAC, the oldest and possibly most respected Latino rights organization in Southern California, Sanchez has voted the LULAC way eighty-three percent of the time. But it’s one thing to stand up and say Yea. It’s another to take an active leadership role for her people and her district. She is arguably the most powerful Hispanic woman in American politics–or could be–and she has not led the charge on a number of issues crucial to Latinos living in central Orange County.OC Growth plans: What has she done to ensure that Hispanics in central Orange County get their share of the economic boom? Corporate hiring: Do corporate giants such as Disney and Ingram Micro hire enough executive-level Hispanics? While the number of Hispanic families buying homes in central Orange County increases in leaps and bounds, their influence stay the same: Loretta’s active leadership could help ensure that these families are not just whistling down a well, but are actually being heard. Has the community taken full advantage of local Enterprise Zones? Could Sanchez have better helped promote investment and growth in these areas? The people who have borne the harshest brunt of Orange County’s freeway overhaul are people living in her district, people who could have used the backing of an official whose public clout far outweighs that of most sophomore reps. After all, everyone knows Loretta. She’s on the TV all the time. So what was it again that she that she believed in?