Biography

Representing a new generation of Latina political leaders, State Senator Melissa Hurtado is the youngest woman ever elected to the California State Senate. Her Senate district — in California’s great Central Valley — is home to some of the richest and most fertile farmland in the world, one of the top oil-producing counties in the United States and resilient working-class families who power the Valley economy.

A product of hardworking immigrant parents, Melissa grew up in the tiny rural town of Sanger — located just outside of Fresno in the heart of the Valley. She learned firsthand from her parents that hard work, a good education and perseverance is fundamental to success. Melissa is the first from her family to graduate from college.

After graduating from Sacramento State University, Melissa returned home to the Valley to serve her community and build a better life for Valley families. She advocated for teachers, patients and working families — helping lead the fight for good wages, access to quality health care and retirement security.

Melissa was elected to the Sanger City Council in 2016. Proudly representing her hometown, she worked collaboratively with city leaders to help create high-wage jobs, balance the city’s budget and build a financial reserve — all without raising taxes.

Two years later Melissa took on an even greater challenge, running for State Senate against a well-known and well-financed Republican incumbent. Despite what seemed like overwhelming odds, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the California State Senate in 2018.

In the Legislature, Melissa is known for being a thoughtful policymaker who works across party lines to improve the quality of life for residents and to ensure rural voices are heard at all levels of government. She focuses on rural community issues that often go unheard in the State Capitol — access to clean air and water, food insecurity, inequities in environmental policies, agriculture and access to health care in rural communities.

In 2020, Melissa was honored to be appointed to the national Biden Latino Leadership Committee alongside former Labor Secretary and current Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis — the only two California Latinas on the committee. Together, they worked with their fellow committee members to help shape the Biden Latino community agenda.