House, California , District #35
10124 South Broadway, Suite 1
Los Angeles, California 90003
Home Town: St. Louis, MO
Committees: Financial Services, Judiciary
Elected in November 2002 to her seventh term in the House of Representatives with an overwhelming 77.6 percent of the votes in the 35th District of California, Congresswoman Maxine Waters represents a large part of South Central Los Angeles, the Westchester community and the diverse cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.
Formerly the Chair of the 39-member Congressional Black Caucus (1997-98), Rep. Waters has held the influential leadership position of Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic Party since the 106th Congress and was recently named Co-Chair of the powerful House Democratic Steering Committee.
She continues to be a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and the ranking member of its Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. She also continues to serve on the Committee on the Judiciary.
Following the 2000 Presidential election fiasco in Florida and elsewhere, Rep. Waters was named by Minority Leader Richard Gephardt to chair the Democratic Caucus Special Committee on Election Reform which held hearings throughout the country to prepare for Congressional consideration of minimum federal standards for elections practices.
Throughout her 25 years of public service, Maxine Waters has been on the cutting edge, tackling difficult and often controversial issues. She has combined her strong legislative and public policy acumen and high visibility in Democratic Party activities with an unusual ability to do grassroots organizing.
Following the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, Congresswoman Waters faced the nationâ€™s media and public to interpret the hopelessness and despair in cities across America. Over the years, she has brought many government officials and policy makers to her South Central L.A. district to appeal for more resources. They included President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Secretaries of Housing & Urban Development Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo, and Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve System.
Maxine Waters also brought national spotlight to the allegations of CIA involvement in the Contra cocaine drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. She has called for redirecting the resources of the so-called â€œwar on drugsâ€ to prevention and treatment, and for repealing mandatory minimum sentencing laws for minor drug offenses.
Prior to her election to the House of Representatives in 1990, Congresswoman Waters had already attracted national attention for her no-nonsense, no-holds-barred style of politics. During 14 years in the California State Assembly, she rose to the powerful position of Democratic Caucus Chair. She was responsible for some of the boldest legislation California has ever seen: the largest divestment of state pension funds from South Africa; landmark affirmative action legislation; the nationâ€™s first statewide Child Abuse Prevention Training Program; the prohibition of police strip searches for nonviolent misdemeanors; and the introduction of the nationâ€™s first plant closure law.
As a national Democratic Party leader, Congresswoman Waters has long been highly visible in Democratic Party politics and has served on the Democratic National Committee since 1980. She was a key leader in five presidential campaigns: Sen. Edward Kennedy (1980), Rev. Jesse Jackson (1984 & 1988), and President Bill Clinton (1992 & 1996). In 2001, she was instrumental in the DNCâ€™s creation of the National Development and Voting Rights Institute and the appointment of Mayor Maynard Jackson as its chair.
She has used her skill to shape public policy and deliver the goods: $10 billion in Section 108 loan guarantees to cities for economic and infrastructure development, housing and small business expansion; $50 million appropriation for â€œYouth Fair Chanceâ€ program which established an intensive job and life skills training program for unskilled, unemployed youth; expanded U.S. debt relief for Africa and other developing nations; creating a â€œCenter for Women Veterans,â€ among others.
She is a co-founder of Black Womenâ€™s Forum, a nonprofit organization of over 1,200 African American women in the Los Angeles area. In the mid-80s, she also founded Project Build, working with young people in Los Angeles housing developments on job training and placement. Following the 1992 civil unrest, she founded Community Build, the cityâ€™s grassroots rebuilding project.
As an advocate for human rights, Congresswoman Waters was a leader in the movement to end Apartheid and assure one-person, one-vote democracy in South Africa. She founded the Los Angeles Free South Africa Movement and continues to be an advisor to TransAfrica. In 1994, she was on the official U.S. delegation to Nelson Mandelaâ€™s inauguration as President of a free South Africa.
Rep. Waters was a key figure in Congressional efforts to restore to power Haitiâ€™s democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. She also was arrested in front of the White House urging justice for Haitian refugees and the restoration of democracy in Haiti.
Maxine Waters was a strong advocate of family reunification and the return of little Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba.
As she confronts the Republican-controlled Congress on issues such as poverty, economic development, equal justice under the law and other issues of concern to people of color, women, children, and poor people, Rep. Waters enjoys a broad cross section of support from diverse communities across the nation.
She is lauded by African American entrepreneurs for her work to expand contracting and procurement opportunities and to strengthen businesses. Long active in the womenâ€™s movement, Rep. Waters has given encouragement and financial support to women seeking public office. Many young people, including those in the hip-hop music community, praise her for her support and understanding of young people and their efforts at self-expression. One testament to her work is the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center, a multimillion dollar campus providing education and employment opportunities to residents of the Watts area.
Rep. Waters is a key figure in a broad coalition of community residents, environmental activists, elected officials and cities opposing expansion of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Maxine Waters was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the fifth of 13 children reared by a single mother. She began working at age 13 in factories and segregated restaurants. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked in garment factories and at the telephone company. She attended California State University at Los Angeles, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She began her career in public service as a teacher and a volunteer coordinator in the Head Start program.
She is married to Sidney Williams, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. She is the mother of two adult children, Edward and Karen, and has two grandchildren.