Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39)

Gil Cisneros

Gil Cisneros is the Democratic candidate for California’s 39th District in Northern Orange County which includes Fullerton and Yorba Linda. He will face Republican candidate Young Kim in the general election for the open seat. Current Republican Representative Ed Royce is not seeking re-election. Cisneros is a decorated Navy Veteran and a philanthropist focused on access to education. He is dedicated to protecting women’s rights including reproductive rights, Equal Pay for Equal Work, and paid family leave.

Background and Achievements

Gil Cisneros attended George Washington University on a ROTC scholarship, graduating with a BA in Political Science. Cisneros went on to serve ten years as a US Naval Officer, receiving several awards including the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. He then worked as a shipping and manufacturing manager for Frito-Lay. After being laid off from the company in 2010, Cisneros bought a lottery ticket and won $266 million dollars.

Since winning the lottery, Cisneros has become an active philanthropist in education. He and his wife founded the Generation First Degree Pico Rivera to increase access to higher education for the Latino population of Pico Rivera. They also founded The Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation which works to strengthen public schools and send more students and veterans to college. In addition to his foundations, Cisneros supports Yellow Ribbon programs, local scholarship funds, and an endowment for dependents of former Navy Supply Corps personnel.

Cisneros later continued his education and received his MBA from Regis University and his MA in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. He has also sat on a number of different committees and councils, including the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for The Kennedy Center under President Obama.

Positions on Key Issues

  • Supports reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood funding
  • Supports Equal Pay for Equal Work
  • Advocates for paid family leave legislation
  • Fights against educational funding cuts and Pell Grants
  • Protects the Affordable Health Care Act
  • Supports DACA and DREAMers
  • Supports gun policy reform
  • Advocates for removing corporate money out of politics
  • Supports LGBTQ+ Rights

Prospects & Opponents

Gil Cisneros will face Republican nominee Young Kim in the general election for the district’s open seat. Kim is a Korean-American immigrant who has worked in public service for over 25 years. She has worked for U.S. Representative Ed Royce (the exiting Republican Representative of the 39th district), served as a California Assemblywoman, and sat on multiple boards for local non-profit organizations. She is a NRCC “Young Gun,” making her eligible for special funding and help from the GOP. Kim received 21.7% of the votes in the CA primary, compared to Cisneros’ 19.1%.

The 39th District is on DCCC’s Red to Blue list and is listed as an evenly split toss up on the Cook Political Report. While the district has been mostly represented by Republicans, Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez held the seat from 2003 to 2013 before being redistricted to the 38th district. In California’s two-top primary election, 44.1% of the votes went to Democratic candidates (19.1% for Cisneros) while 54.2% went to Republicans (21.7% for Kim).


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