Tony Cárdenas

Last updated
Tony Cárdenas
Tony Cardenas 114th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from California's 29th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byNew Constituency (Redistricting)
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 6th district
In office
July 1, 2003 January 3, 2013
Preceded by Ruth Galanter
Succeeded by Nury Martinez
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 39th district
In office
December 2, 1996 - November 30, 2002
Preceded by Richard Katz
Succeeded by Cindy Montañez
Personal details
Born (1963-03-31) March 31, 1963 (age 58)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Norma Cárdenas
Education University of California, Santa Barbara (BS)
Website House website

Antonio Cárdenas ( /ˈkɑːrdəˌnɑːs/ KARD-ə-nahss; born March 31, 1963) is an American politician who has served as the United States Representative for California's 29th congressional district since January 2013.


Cárdenas was previously a member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing the Sixth Council District which covers portions of the northeast San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Arleta, Pacoima, Sun Valley, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Van Nuys, and Lake Balboa.

Cárdenas was elected to the California State Assembly for three consecutive terms and served as chair of the budget committee. In 2003, he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council and re-elected in 2007 and 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Cárdenas was elected to Congress in November 2012. [1] He was reelected in 2014 and 2016. [2]

Early life and education

Cárdenas was born March 31, 1963 in Pacoima, Los Angeles. [3] He is one of 11 children of Andrés Cárdenas and María Quezada, who immigrated to the United States shortly after marrying in Jalisco, Mexico in 1946. [4] Andrés Cárdenas was a farm worker near Stockton, California before the family relocated to Pacoima in 1954. [4]

Cárdenas graduated from San Fernando High School in the northeast San Fernando Valley. [5] In 1986, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. [3]

California State Assembly


In 1996, Cárdenas ran for California's 39th State Assembly district after Democratic incumbent Richard Katz decided not to run for re-election. He defeated Republican Ollie McCaulley 72%-28%. [6] In 1998, he won re-election to a second term with 87% of the vote. [7] [8] In 2000, he won re-election to a third term with 78% of the vote. [9] [10]


Cárdenas' state reforms brought 78,000 new classroom seats and 15 playgrounds throughout Los Angeles. He also secured more than $650 million for new school construction.

He authored legislation that reformed California's gang prevention and intervention programs and teamed up with fellow Democrat Adam Schiff to create the Schiff-Cárdenas Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act. [11]

Committee assignments

Los Angeles City Council


In 2002, Cárdenas ran for the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd district. Wendy Greuel defeated him 50.4%-49.6%, a difference of 225 votes. [14] [15] In 2003, he ran for the City Council's 6th district. He defeated Jose Roy Garcia 69%-31%. [16] In 2007, he won re-election to a second term with 66% of the vote. [17] In 2011, he won re-election to a third term with 58% of the vote. [18]


Cárdenas is an animal rights activist. He authored legislation that created Los Angeles' first Animal Cruelty Task Force, which arrest animal abusers. He supported City's mandatory spay/neuter ordinance to reduce the number of stray and homeless animals.

He strongly supported green energy. He proposed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that established goals for the city's Department of Water and Power to obtain at least 20% of its energy from wind and solar. He also proposed a plan that would convert all of the city's taxis to be fuel efficient by 2015. [19]

He brought his passion for juvenile justice to the Los Angeles City Council. As Chair of the City's Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development, Cárdenas identified millions of dollars overlooked by the City to help keep kids off the streets, and reduced crime while reducing expenditures on crime abatement programs. As Vice Chair of the City's Public Safety Committee, Cárdenas spearheaded the most comprehensive gang intervention model in the country. The Community-Based Gang Intervention Model standardized and defined the methods used by gang intervention workers to help stop violence in some of Los Angeles' most dangerous neighborhoods. [20]

In 2012, Cárdenas also passed amendments to the City's daytime curfew ordinance. The new policy eliminated costly fines of up to $500 that students were facing. It also reduced court visits for parents and students and gave students the opportunity to do community service to eliminate citations. [21]

Committee assignments

U.S. House of Representatives

During the 113th Congress, Càrdenas introduced 21 pieces of legislation in the U.S. House. Included among those are:

Juvenile justice

H.R. 2669, Community-Based Gang Intervention Act, introduced July 11, 2013, has 22 cosponsors. This bill provides definitions of terms and services related to community-based gang intervention to ensure that funding for such intervention is utilized in a cost-effective manner. It also establishes that community-based agencies are held accountable for providing holistic, integrated intervention services. [23]

H.R. 4123, Prohibiting Detention of Youth Status Offenders Act of 2014, introduced: Feb. 22, 2014, has 7 cosponsors. This bill will amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to eliminate the use of valid court orders (VCO) that put juveniles in jail for "status offenses." These offenses that would not be judicial issues if the offender were not a juvenile. This includes "offenses" such as breaking curfew, running away from home or skipping school. [24]

H.R.4124, Protecting Youth from Solitary Confinement Act, introduced Feb. 28, 2014, has 5 cosponsors. This bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit subjecting a juvenile in federal custody in a juvenile facility to solitary confinement. [24] The bill requires the Director of the Board of Prisons to report annually to the President and Congress on: (1) the most recent data regarding the rate at which juveniles are subject to solitary confinement; and (2) the trends demonstrated by data on juveniles subjected to solitary confinement with regard to the types of offenses for which the juveniles were incarcerated, the race, gender, and age of such juveniles, how many hours such juveniles were subject to solitary confinement, and the purposes of the solitary confinement. [25] H.R. 4390, At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act of 2014, introduced April 3, 2014, has 4 cosponsors and has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill requires state Medicaid plans to prohibit the state from terminating (but allow it to suspend) enrollment under the state plan for medical assistance for an eligible juveniles if he or she is an inmate of a public institution. It requires the state to restore enrollment automatically to such an individual upon his or her release, and take all steps necessary to ensure the enrollment is effective immediately upon release, unless the individual no longer meets eligibility requirements. Lastly it requires the state to process any application for medical assistance submitted by, or on behalf of, a juvenile inmate notwithstanding that he or she is an inmate.


H.R. 4949, New American Success Act of 2014, introduced June 24, 2014, is a bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). The bill establishes the National Office of New Americans to support the integration of immigrants to the United States into the economic, social, cultural, and civic life of their local communities and the Nation. The bill will help speed the integration of new Americans into society, ensuring each immigrant has access to programs that will help them learn or improve their English skills, civics education and other initiatives to help assist them in quickly adapting to their new nation while they participate in the naturalization process. [26]

Education and students

H.R. 3734, 416d65726963612043616e20436f6465 (America Can Code) Act of 2013, introduced December 12, 2013, cosponsored by two other representatives. The bill expresses the importance of instruction in coding and computer programming to students' academic and vocational success, innovations in cyberspace, and our national security and economic competitiveness. The bill amends the America COMPETES Act to include computer programming language that is critical to the national security and economic competitiveness of our country as a "critical foreign language," the study of which is included in the teacher education programs and Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs funded under that Act. The bill also directs the Secretary of Education to convene a task force to explore ways of improving instruction in computer sciences and coding. [27]

H.R. 4929: Computer Science Career Education Act of 2014, introduced June 20, 2014, with 10 cosponsors. This bill will award grants to applicants that are a consortium of state or local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations and employers with a documented need in the computer science sector. The grants are designed to encourage the development of computer science curriculum that will meet the market needs of employers and better integrate secondary and postsecondary education. Under the CSCE Act, groups can apply for funds to develop and operate a 4- or 6-year computer science career education training program. [28]

H.R.2982: Computer Science in STEM Act of 2013, introduced August 2, 2013. The bill adds Computer Science as one of the core "Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics" (STEM) classes. It directs the Secretary of Education to award grants to State educational agencies in order to develop comprehensive plans to strengthen elementary and secondary computer science education. [29]

H.R.3545: Collegiate Student Athlete Protection Act, introduced November 20, 2013 with 5 cosponsors. The bill requires universities and colleges who profit most from the talents of amateur athletes who trade athletic performance for the opportunity to achieve a high level of post-secondary education to guarantee that opportunity. CSAP Act will require alternate academic scholarships for any student-athlete involuntarily removed from completion for a college or university, but who maintains their academic standing. It also requires life skills and finance workshops including explanation of the full rights provided in scholarships and what student-athletes can expect to pay in health care costs. [30]

Jobs and the economy

H.R. 4033: The American Worker Mobility Act, introduced February 11, 2014, is a bipartisan bill with 4 cosponsors, including Tea Party Republican Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) The American Worker Mobility Act would create a new program within the Department of Labor that would give people who can't find a job near where they live vouchers worth up to $10,000 to help them move to accept or find a job. The vouchers would be limited to long-term unemployed (longer than 26 weeks) individuals and require reporting on individuals use of the vouchers including statistics on new hires and the use of the vouchers. [31]

H.R. 5084: HUBZone Equity, introduced: July 11, 2014 with 15 cosponsors. The bill expands the eligibility for HUBZone designations to include business owned and operated by legal permanent residents. Under current law, only businesses owned by U.S. citizens are able to apply and get the HUBZone designation. [32]

H.R. 4763: Trade Protection Not Troll Protection Act, introduced: May 29, 2014 as a bipartisan bill with 9 cosponsors. The bill will speed up the legal process surrounding patent assertion litigation, undertaken by patent assertion entities (PAE) or so-called "patent trolls." PAEs abuse the International Trade Commission patent process by purchasing patents and suing for intellectual property similarity between their purchased patents and a product that has been created and is being manufactured. The bill will ensure that American innovators and businesses are able to invest in their company and ideas instead of fighting these often frivolous lawsuits. [33]

H.R. 5325: American Manufacturing Workforce Act of 2014, introduced: July 31, 2014 with 7 cosponsors. The bill provides tax credits of up to $1,000 to unemployed individuals who receive manufacturing training. It will also create similar incentives for employers who provide manufacturing training to their workers. Eligibility for these tax credits will be limited to the top 15 manufacturing states in the nation, including California. [34]

Local issues

H.R. 4995: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 6531 Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys, California, as the "Marilyn Monroe Post Office," introduced June 26, 2014, with 18 California delegation cosponsors. The bill designates the United States Postal Service facility located at 6531 Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys, California, as the "Marilyn Monroe Post Office." Marilyn Monroe claimed that her time in Van Nuys was the happiest time in her life. [35]

H.R. 4544: Stop Penalizing Taxpayers for Sports Owner Fouls Act of 2014, introduced May 1, 2014 with 14 cosponsors. The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to prevent an owner of a professional sports franchise from being able to take a tax deduction for any fine or penalty that the owner was required to the professional sports league or association. Under current law, sport team owners are able to write-off fines and penalties when filing their taxes. [36]

Food safety

H.R. 3495: To amend the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 to make improvements to the food safety education program carried out under such Act, and for other purposes, introduced: November 14, 2013. The bill would help protect more American families from foodborne illnesses. It would expand food safety education initiatives to train farmworkers on how to prevent bacterial contamination of food, how to identify sources of foodborne contaminants and other means of decreasing food contamination. [37]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Federal elections

In 2012, he decided to run for the newly redrawn California's 29th congressional district after redistricting. In the June open primary, he ranked first with 64% of the vote. Independent David Hernandez, President of the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce, ranked second with 22% of the vote, qualifying for the November election. Richard Valdez ranked third with 14% of the vote. [42] In the November general election, Cardenas defeated Hernandez 74%-26%. [43] [44]

Personal life

Chicano literature author Luis J. Rodriguez is Cárdenas' brother-in-law. [45]

On May 3, 2018, Cárdenas identified himself as the subject of a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County alleging sexual abuse of a minor in 2007. The lawsuit alleged that a (then unnamed) local politician [46] drugged a 16-year-old girl at the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, and then sexually molested her while driving her to the emergency room after she passed out, though there has been no evidence to link him to such accusations. [47] Cárdenas issued a statement in response to the charges, calling them "100%, categorically untrue". [48]

On July 3, 2019, Angela Chavez, the woman who made the accusations against Cárdenas, dropped the lawsuit. It was also noted that Angela's father, Gus Villela, approached Richard Alarcon, who ran against Cardenas in 2016, offering to spread negative information about Cardenas in exchange for a job with Alarcon's congressional campaign. Alarcon said he declined to hire Villela and reported the meeting to the FBI. [49] The case was settled as a resolution, not a settlement, with prejudice, meaning that the lawsuit cannot be refiled, vindicating Cárdenas. [50]

See also

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California Assembly
Preceded by
Richard Katz
Member of the California Assembly
from the 39th district

December 2, 1996 - November 30, 2002
Succeeded by
Cindy Montañez
Political offices
Preceded by
Ruth Galanter
Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 6th district

July 1, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Succeeded by
Nury Martinez
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Adam Schiff
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Cheri Bustos
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Matt Cartwright