Rita is no stranger to hard work. Her life story is reminiscent of the great American success story. As a Senator, she will be able to contribute to this state in many ways. Her experience, education, and dedication will make her a strong representative for the 32nd Senate District.
Rita Topalian has been a resident of Whittier since 1980. She has been married for more than 50 years and has three children, all graduates of Whittier High School.
AN IMMIGRANT’S STORY
Rita was born in Germany and emigrated to this country with her parents in 1951 and did not speak a word of English when she arrived. Shortly after graduating from Montebello High School, she got married and started a series of businesses in which she successfully participated. Her business understanding comes from first-hand experience because of the myriad of challenges when managing a business and meeting a payroll.
A PASSION FOR EDUCATION
However, that was not enough for her. At the age of 30, she decided to pursue a college education and enrolled in Rio Hondo College. During the next nine years, while running a business, being a supportive wife and raising her children, she earned her Political Science Degree from California State University, Los Angeles . She further pursued her love of learning in 1988, when she went on to law school and received her Juris Doctorate from Western State College, University of Law.
A VOLUNTEER SPIRIT
Rita has always had a volunteer spirit. She served more than ten years as a board member of the Whittier Bar Association and is a past president. In a court system plagued with a shortage of funds, limited services and a dilapidated infrastructure, Rita volunteered as a judge pro temp. In one year alone, she served on the bench 39 times. Rita has been a PFC mother, a founding member of “Safe Rides”, and an advocate of politics for the people.
While practicing law, Rita also worked in the legislature part-time for fourteen years. As Senator Bob Margett’s (retired) field representative and point person on women’s issues, she established and coordinated his Women’s Conference. For nine years, those conferences were attended by hundreds of women. Held at Citrus College, the seminars were free to attendees and addressed a host of subjects including legislative updates, how to start your own business, and health issues unique to women.
CALLED TO SERVE CALIFORNIA
Rita’s most startling achievement was the 2014 election where she pitted herself against the incumbent, Ian Calderon, for the California 57th Assembly District seat.. This was the seat that no one thought could be taken, yet Rita won the primary in a surprise upset. In the General Election, there was a mere 1,875 vote difference out of approximately 63,000 cast. Those votes were the result of being outspent by a margin of 15 to 1; incumbent had spent more than $1.5 million against Rita’s modest $110,000.
Three important issues drive Rita’s campaign. She is passionate about repealing the gas tax enacted by the Legislature, a regressive tax that hurts hard-working families. Proposition 13 is again under attack. Rita will work hard to prevent any further erosion to this mandate by protecting the hard-working homeowners of this State. She will work to reverse the effects of Proposition 47 which makes it harder for law enforcement to protect the law abiding public and puts public safety in the background while protecting criminals. And lastly, but probably most importantly, Rita will strive to strengthen and improve our education system to ensure that it provides the very best to the young minds and the future voters of California.