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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 25

Photo of Katherine Perez-Estolano

Katherine Perez-Estolano

Educator/Business Owner
31,166 votes (14.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Investing in Quality Housing: Housing is a basic right and Katherine supports investment in a
  • Increasing Access to Education: Katherine will advocate for two years of free community college, support affordable universal preschool, and work to expand access to college and job-training programs.
  • Protecting Our Environment: Katherine will protect parks and open space, help solve the water crisis, and safeguard our environment for future generations.



Profession:Educator and Business Owner
Co-Founder, ELP Advisors (2011–current)
Board Member, California High Speed Rail Authority — Appointed position (2013–2015)
Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Commission Member, State of California — Appointed position (2009–2013)
Executive Director, Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles District Council (2008–2011)
Vice President, Forest City Development (2005–2008)
Executive Director, Transportation & Land Use Collaborative (2000–2005)
Deputy Mayor, City of Pasadena, Office of Mayor William Bogaard (1998–2000)
Deputy Mayor, City of Pasadena — Appointed position (1998–2000)
Transportation Commission Chair, City of Pasadena — Appointed position (1995–1998)
Commission on the Status of Women Member, City of Pasadena — Appointed position (1993–1994)


University of California, Los Angeles Master of Arts, Urban Planning and Transportation (1996)
California State University, Northridge Bachelor of Arts, Political Science (1992)

Community Activities

Board Member, New Economics for Women (2013–2015)
Board Member, AltaMed (2008–2010)
Board Member, CORO (2004–2009)
Board Member/Secretary, National Latina Alliance (1992–1995)
Board Member, Latinos for Economic Advancement & Development, Pasadena (1992–1994)


Katherine Perez-Estolano has called the San Gabriel Valley home for nearly 25 years. As a mother, wife, small business owner, educator and resident, she has a diverse professional background and a deep commitment to her community.

Katherine is an expert in urban planning, transportation, and community engagement. As Co-­Founder of Estolano, LeSar, Perez (ELP) Advisors, she manages numerous transportation and community engagement projects. Katherine is highly regarded for developing complex public participation strategies that require collaboration among multi­-cultural communities, and as a recognized leader in the planning and transportation fields, she speaks at conferences throughout the state and country.

Prior to co­-founding ELP Advisors, Katherine served as the Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles District Council, an organization focused on creating sustainable communities by educating communities and stakeholders on responsible land use and sustainable development.

Katherine was formerly the Vice President of Development for Forest City Development, where she focused on transit-­oriented development and mixed­-use, mixed-­income projects in emerging markets, and Co­-Founder and Executive Director of the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative of Southern California, a nationally recognized non­profit that promotes greater community involvement in planning and development.

Katherine started her career in public service in Pasadena. She worked as the Deputy to Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, with a focus on transportation, planning and Latino constituent issues and engagement. Prior to working with Mayor Bogaard, Katherine served as the Transportation Manager for South Pasadena, responsible for the planning and development of the Gold Line rail project and updating the local mobility element. She spearheaded community marches to protest the construction the 710 Freeway.  By building alliances in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles, she created partnerships among community groups that mobilized concerned residents along the proposed freeway corridor.

Always with a focus on improving her community, Katherine’s public service extends beyond Pasadena. In 2013, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority. Katherine previously served on the California Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission, which assisted the California Department of Transportation and regional transportation agencies in developing public­-private financing agreements for high­-priority infrastructure projects throughout the state.

Katherine demonstrates a commitment to serving her community throughout her life. She has given her time and service to numerous boards and commissions, including Latinos for Economic Advancement and Development, Pasadena Heritage, and the City of Pasadena Transportation Commission and Commission for the Status of Women. She is also actively involved with leadership groups with a focus on empowering the Latino and women’s communities, including Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, National Latina Alliance, National Organization for Women, New Economics for Women, and Adelante Mujer. She was a member of the Advisory Board of the USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate and continues to be actively involved with the UCLA Alumni Council. She has also served on national boards including the Alliance for Regional Stewardship and the US High Speed Rail Association.

Katherine is an Adjunct Professor at the USC School of Planning and Development, where she co­-designed and teaches Public Participation in Planning and Land Use Decision-Making. She has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA School of Policy and was recognized as a Senior Fellow of the UCLA School of Public Affairs. In addition, she has served as an instructor for the National League of Cities, Leadership Training for Local Officials program as well as a Lecturer for the Ford Fellowship, Regional Sustainable Development series. Katherine received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California State University Northridge and her Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Transportation from UCLA.

Katherine is married to Cecilia V. Estolano. In 2013, they were married at their church, All Saints Church in Pasadena. Together, they share six children and live in the Bungalow Heaven landmark district in Pasadena.





Who supports this candidate?

Individuals (34)

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration. (4)

Climate changes and the continuing drought worry many in California. What new strategies do you believe would ensure that California is able to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific.
Answer from Katherine Perez-Estolano:

Given the urgent situation we face, we must not focus on just one solution – this complex issue needs a holistic, comprehensive approach, much of which I have addressed in prior questions. Some of the solutions include: 

Invest in water infrastructure systems
Our entire water infrastructure system needs to have a full evaluation to ensure that we can provide safe, reliable water to Californians.  With the investments from the State Water Bond of 2014 we are making headway by making strategic investments but the need is greater than the demand and we need to consider new financing strategies such as public, private partnerships to deliver new facilities to meet our growing needs. But at a minimum, the state should immediately address the infrastructure needs of the rural communities who have gone without water during the drought.  We need to connect them to a water source and ensure that their basic water needs are met.  

Working with local government
The state has a fundamental role and responsibility to do everything in our power to provide water security and access to clean drinking water, but we need communities on the ground to be our partners in this effort. The state should support cities in all efforts – conservation, recycling, storm water capture and reduction of urban runoff – that improve the water quality for the entire state.

Water conservation and landscaping enhancements 
Working with the State Water Quality Board, there is more the legislature can do to hold local jurisdictions and water wasters accountable, including commercial, residential, and institutional (universities, hospitals) users.  In addition, as the CALGreen code has migrated the entire state development industry to better landscaping treatments like xeriscape, native plant alternatives, and onsite water treatment and storage options, I believe more can be done to address our reluctant lawn lovers to give up their grass. 

Rethinking our agricultural and other watering use/delivery
We should not use drinking water to water crops, and we should require drip irrigation to limit water use. If the auto industry can make a transition with catalytic converters, we can make the transition with water use for agriculture. We also shouldn’t use clean drinking water in landscaping and toilets. We must invest in grey water infrastructure and rethink our water delivery system.

Many Californians are concerned about the influence of money in politics. What can the state legislature do to ensure that decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents?
Answer from Katherine Perez-Estolano:

The influence of money in politics has given rise to many elected officials who are career politicians, those who aren’t running with the best interest of their community in mind, but who make their own personal interest and the interests of the big money supporters who elected them the priority. For the sake of our democracy, for the voices of those in the community, this must change.  I would like to see a complete overhaul of the campaign finance system and the way elections are run and move to a more publicly funded, shorter election cycle that demands vigorous debate of the ideas and inspires community engagement. That type of change requires time, thoughtful leadership and power from the very top of the system demanding that action.

In the meantime, there are several things the state legislature can do to ensure decision-making by elected officials is not swayed by moneyed interests at the expense of constituents. I believe two of the top priorities should be banning all campaign contributions during the legislative cycle, so no one making laws can accept contributions from lobbyists or other special interests at the very time policies impacting those interests are being decided upon, and making contributions more transparent by requiring 24-hour reporting of all campaign contributions.

There are a variety of proposals to raise California's minimum wage. Many of these proposals face opposition from business groups who are concerned that they would kill jobs. Do you support increasing the minimum wage in California?  In your answer please explain your position on the relationship between wages and jobs with specific reference to the situation in your district. 
Answer from Katherine Perez-Estolano:

Yes, I support increasing the minimum wage and applaud the state for leading the nation, as well as cities like Los Angeles who led the state, in getting us closer to eliminating poverty and ensuring that all people who work hard can adequately provide for their family. 

I have never held political office but I know what it means to make payroll.  I know the responsibility of supporting my employees with good wages and benefits.  I also understand the impact state legislation can have on my operations and company’s profits.  I have successfully run my company for five years. I have also worked with state officials, local and regional agencies to design smart and affordable communities and I know what it takes to make good legislation.  It requires the involvement by many stakeholders to ensure that key sectors of the economy – public, private and non-profits – have a say in the outcome of any bill.  Increasingly there are less state representatives who lack the range of professional experiences to help inform the legislative process, and I believe having small business leaders, chambers, community leaders and other stakeholders at the table when crafting the statewide minimum wage legislation would have been beneficial.

Growing our economy isn't just about creating new jobs, it's about investing in education and linking a trained workforce to these new jobs. Senate District 25 is fortunate to be the home to JPL-NASA, CalTech, Art Center School of Design, City of Hope, Azusa Pacific University, University of La Verne, Pasadena Community College, Citrus College and the Claremont Colleges, to name a few. Many are internationally recognized institutions that are actively creating spinoffs in technology, healthcare, and engineering.  I want to keep those startup companies in California and in the greater San Gabriel Valley.  I will work to encourage them to hire the young talented professionals graduating from local colleges and universities to create a pipeline of skilled and trained workers to fill good paying jobs in growing industries.

What are your top three fiscal priorities, recognizing the need to balance the state’s income with its spending? 
Answer from Katherine Perez-Estolano:

When making decisions about our budget and raising revenues, I would take a holistic approach. None of these decisions should be made in a vacuum and many factors impact the end result. The state of the economy, the state of California’s fiscal condition and our rainy day fund, what programs and services have gone underfunded for a long period of time and what the impacts are just some of the factors that would go into my decision-making. That being said, fully funding education, ensuring all Californians have a safe and affordable home, public safety, and programs that support environmental protections like investment in local water solutions, parks and open space and transit-oriented development are all top priorities.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $227,036

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Equality California and employees
Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors and employees
Atkins for Senate 2016
California Latino Caucus Leadership PAC
Employees of Goldhirsh Foundation
Employees of Holland Partner Group
LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund
Employees of Mack Urban
Employees of Part-Time Teacher
Employees of The Penstar Group

More information about contributions

By State:

California 92.72%
Washington 2.05%
Ohio 1.84%
Virginia 0.69%
Other 2.69%

By Size:

Large contributions (95.64%)
Small contributions (4.36%)

By Type:

From organizations (23.13%)
From individuals (76.87%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I love California and I believe in the people that make up this great state. From a young age, my mother – a lifelong school teacher – taught me that serving our community is a responsibility we all share, a lesson that has motivated me throughout my career and inspires me to serve as your next State Senator. 

The San Gabriel Valley has been my home for nearly 25 years. As a parent, wife, small business owner, educator and resident, I have a deep commitment to this community and a diverse professional background that has prepared me to be our community’s champion. 

I am building a campaign with a focus on the future and the needs of our community. My campaign is about harnessing the innovation and creativity of this district and how together, we can work to maintain our quality of life and create the future we all deserve. My priorities include: investment in community college and universal preschool, creating good jobs, building our transportation systems, protecting our parks and forests, and solving our homelessness crisis.

Simply stated, our community is special. We need our next representative to understand our uniqueness, and to make the needs of our residents, families and children a top priority. I will be the champion you deserve, someone who will protect our quality of life, create new opportunities for businesses to thrive and ensure everyone is able to live healthy, prosperous lives.

Throughout this campaign, I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts, dreams and challenges? I hope you will join me in this conversation, and support my effort to serve as our community’s voice in the State Senate.  To share your ideas, visit the contact page of this website and leave your feedback, and we'll be in touch soon.

I look forward to working with you to build a better community for our families, our children and our future.

With gratitude,


Videos (5)

Parks and Open Space — April 18, 2016 Katherine Perez-Estolano for State Senate

Learn about one of Katherine's top priorities: protecting our parks and open space. 

— June 2, 2016 Katherine Perez-Estolano for State Senate

Katherine Perez-Estolano, candidate for State Senate District 25, shares her priorities for her campaign. For more information, visit:

— June 2, 2016 Katherine Perez-Estolano for State Senate

Katherine Perez-Estolano, candidate for State Senate District 25, shares her priorities for her campaign. For more information, visit:

Charter Local Edition Host Brad Pomerance interviews CA State Senate Candidate Katherine Perez-Estolano about her run and CA’s natural resources....Editor John Gean.......
Guest: Katherine Perez-Estolano

Charter Local Edition Host Brad Pomerance interviews CA State Senate Candidate Katherine Perez-Estolano about her run for the State Senate, Housing and Transportation.

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