Gloria Molina, Latina Pioneer, Former LA Supervisor Battles Terminal Cancer

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Gloria Molina, a pioneer Latina politician who served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for more than two decades following terms in the state Assembly and on the L.A. City Council -- and was the first Latina elected to each -- announced Tuesday she is battling terminal cancer.

In a Facebook post, the 74-year-old Molina said she has been receiving treatment for three years, but that, "at this point, it is very aggressive."

"I've lived a long, fulfilling and beautiful life," Molina said in the post, which is addressed to "dearest friends and beloved community."

"You should know that I'm not sad. I enter this transition in life feeling so fortunate. I have an amazing and caring family, wonderful friends, and worked with committed colleagues and a loyal team. Throughout my life I've had the support of many people."

Molina, who grew up in Pico Rivera, was active in the early days of the Chicano movement, becoming an advocate for women's health issues -- which she continued into her elected offices. At one point, she founded a Nurse Mentoring Program through local community colleges to address a nurse shortage.

She first won elective office in 1982, winning the 56th Assembly District seat and eventually leading a fight to quash a proposed prison in East L.A.

Molina won the City Council's First District seat in 1987, and was elected to the Board of Supervisors from the county's First District in 1991. She was the first woman elected to the board -- once known as the "Five Little Kings"  -- though Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, who was appointed to fill a vacancy, was the first woman to serve on the board.

Known as a sharp fiscal watchdog, Molina served as a supervisor until 2014, forced out by term limits enacted in 2002. On her exit in 2014, she recalled of her early years on the board, saying, "Everything seemed like a battle."

Prior to her elected positions, she worked as a deputy for presidential personnel in the Jimmy Carter White House.

"I'm really grateful for everyone in my life and proud of my family, career, mi gente, and the work we did on behalf of our community," Molina said in her Facebook post.

She continued, "I have a great daughter, son-in-law, a precious grandchild and another one on the way. I'm so excited! I am very appreciative of the doctors, nurses and health care professionals at City of Hope. ... They have taken good care of me.

"Most of all, I am fortunate to have this time to spend with family, friends and those who are special to me. Thank you all for your love and support."

The post was signed with a heart emoji.

Upon hearing the news of Molina's illness, Eunisses Hernandez, the current L.A. City Councilwoman from the First District, said in a statement to City News Service, "We stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us and Supervisor Molina is one of a kind."

"She blazed the trail for women -- and especially for Latinas -- in local government and we owe her a debt of gratitude for her decades of service to our City and our County," Hernandez said. "I join all Angelenos in offering her my prayers and support during this time."

Supervisor Hilda Solis, who succeeded Molina in the county's First District seat, called Molina a personal inspiration and role model -- and said she would introduce a motion at the next board meeting to name Grand Park after Molina.

"Seeing her break these glass ceilings inspired me," Solis said in a statement. "I remember dreaming of one day serving our community just as she did, with passion. She was my role model, which is why I was proud to support her in each one of her races."

Solis also recalled collaborating with Molina in the 1990s on Comisión Femenil, an organization dedicated to advancing Latinas in politics.

"Los Angeles is as great as it is because of her persistence and determination to fight for our most vulnerable communities," Solis said. "Her leadership led to the creation of the East LA Gold Line, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, and The Wellness Center."

Solis said she will propose renaming Grand Park because it stands as one of Molina's "treasured legacies ... a park for all, she fought so hard for this creative safe space."

``I wish Gloria much strength and send all my prayers and love to her and her family during this difficult time," Solis added.

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