Friday, January 18, 2019
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Blanca Alvarado’s last stand

Dr. Roberto Vargas gives the blessing at a farewell dinner in honor of Blanca Alvarado.
Text by Patty Cruz Lopez
Photos by Mary J. Andrade
Family and community activism are the foundation of Blanca Alvarado’s 28-year career as an elected official.  Before serving three terms on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the San Jose City Council Alvarado was a community activist in East San Jose, at one point holding meetings in her garage along with a then more widely recognized political figure Cesar Chavez.A graduate of San Jose High and long time member of Guadalupe Church, today Alvarado sits in her corner office overlooking a county she helped transform and reflects with nostalgia on the days when she says her political career happened “by accident.”After joining a charter review committee that helped pass a charter-change in 1978 that allowed elections to be held by district Alvarado says, “People just started asking me, ‘well why don’t you run?’ So reluctantly I said, o.k. I guess I will run.”Thinking back, a pronounced grin forms on Alvarado’s face when talks about her “wins” saying, “I’m most proud of the complete rebuilding of the Pocoway neighborhood, the Mexican Heritage Plaza, Healthy Kids, and the expansion of Valley Medical Center.”01bancaehijos.jpgBlanca Alvarado is surrounded by the love of her family at the farewell dinner given in her honor.

Alvarado is still not finished.  With only a few days left in office, Alvarado has one last stand in a proposal to rename a part of San Jose’s Capitol Expressway, after one of the world’s most influential civil rights leaders, her friend and fellow activist Cesar Chavez.

Officially on the agenda for the Board of Supervisors meeting to be held Tuesday December 9, 2008,Alvarado encourages the community to come out and give public testimony about the renaming of a portion of Capitol Expressway.

Alvarado says, “Cesar Chavez lived and worked in San Jose and is one of us.  He is our local hero.  Having a street named after him is to keep his name alive in the minds of people.  He exemplifies the best of a humble man who gave his life for others.”

Alvarado has broken barriers that changed the face of local politics.  She was the first person elected by the residents of District 5, the first Latina to serve as Vice Mayor of San Jose and the first Latina to serve as Chairperson on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Attributing her political gains to having experience in grassroots organizing Alvarado says, “It’s all about building relationships, a base of support and maintaining connections in the community.”

Having come full circle Alvarado has left indelible marks on this county and leaves a legacy of service saying, “I will miss having the forum to advocate for issues that I believe in but I will not miss all the homework.”  She looks forward to rest, relaxation, spending time with her family, travel, and maybe even taking a class or two.

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