Danielle L. Soto: Youthful leader

May 26, 2011

By Andrea Cohen 

Danielle L. Soto

In 2008, while still a UCSC undergraduate, Danielle Soto ran for and won a seat on the City Council of Pomona, California (her hometown), and she was sworn in just days after her last exam. With a population of nearly 150,000, Pomona is the fifth-largest city in Los Angeles County. In 2010, Soto was named Democrat of the Year for her assembly district.

Politics runs in Soto's family. Her grandfather Phil Soto was one of the first Latinos elected to the California Assembly, and her grandmother Nell Soto served in both the state Assembly and Senate before retiring from politics in 2008 at the age of 81. In fact, Nell Soto began her political career by winning the same District 1 Pomona City Council seat that her granddaughter Danielle Soto now holds.

"I'm really proud of my UCSC education," says Soto, adding that it provided excellent preparation for serving in government. At UCSC she studied state and national environmental policy and took courses on water policy and land-use planning. She also did an internship in environmental interpretation that she credits with boosting her public-speaking skills. As a member of a political family, Soto says, "I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into—and I'm humbled and appreciative of the confidence people put in me with their votes."

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