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HMG-CN Interview : Bob Archuleta – From Humble Beginnings to Obama Presidential Appointee

BY BRIAN HEWS

Even though Pico Rivera Councilman Bob Archuleta comes across as the classic political figure with a flair for public speaking and a stellar political reputation having worked with two presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — he comes from very humble beginnings.

He grew up in the area once known as South Central L.A. and as a young boy lived in Lincoln Heights near Chinatown selling flowers on the corner to help his family make ends meet.Archuleta’s family life was not one of fairy tales but of hardship. Abandoned by his biological mother, he was raised by his grandmother, who showed him love and gave him a strong foundation in the church.

“She was very poor, but the love I received from her, I have carried in my heart throughout my life and feel to this day,” he said.After the death of his grandmother when he was 10, Archuleta was returned to his mother who he did not know, and ran away several times while in her custody.

“I didn’t accept the fact that my biological mother was my real mother, and so I ran away again and again,” he said.

But, Archuleta realized over time to accept the situation he was in and make the best of it.She also had her struggles, and Archuleta had to do what he could to help out financially, so he found odd jobs as a young boy.

He started mowing lawns, washing cars and eventually selling flowers meeting people along the way. He vividly remembers one person encouraging him to stay in school, be humble, and always thank the good Lord for whatever you receive.

Archuleta’s life took a turn for the better when he was recruited to play football and was offered a scholarship to attend Salesian High School in East Los Angeles.  Still it wasn’t easy.

He held various jobs at the school such as cleaning and mopping floors because the scholarship was only good during football season, and he needed to pay the remainder of the tuition. During his senior year, Archuleta worked the swing shift at a gas station a couple of miles away from the school. “It was tough working after school and keeping up my grades while contributing to my family,” Archuleta said.

After graduation, at the time of the Vietnam War when the majority of young men were trying to get out of serving, Archuleta enlisted in the Army and volunteered to be a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He was following in the footsteps of his uncles who had served in the Army and Navy, and served three years on active duty and almost two years in the reserves. After his service to the country, he attended the Rio Hondo Police Academy and worked for the Montebello Police Department. After moving to Pico Rivera, he was asked by Rep. Grace Napolitano to run for the city council and was elected in 2007.

During his time, including serving as mayor, Archuleta worked on creating a multi-million dollar reserve for his city, lowering crime and graffiti, as well as renovating city parks and securing funds for two railroad underpasses.

This helped to create new jobs and secured a future for hard working families across the region.

Archuleta had the honor to serve and represent nearly one million veterans throughout L.A. County as a Los Angeles County Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. Under George W. Bush, he served within the Veterans Administration handling Minority Veteran Affairs and within the small business administration. As a presidential appointee to the Obama Administration, he served as the vice chairman of the board that oversees the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The appointment was rigorous and called for complete vetting by the FBI, CIA, the State Department and the White House.

Archuleta was the first Latino ever appointed to serve as a member of the Board.

“Who would have thought that a boy from one of the toughest parts of Los Angeles would grow up to serve his country, work for two presidents and be elected and re-elected to serve his community,” Archuleta said. “Thank God for my wife, Rose, and my five children. They are also my dream come true.”

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