Assemblymember James C. Ramos, a lifelong resident of the San Manuel Indian Reservation in San Bernardino County, is the first California Native American elected to the Legislature. On November 6, 2018 he was elected to represent the 40th District which includes the cities of Highland, Loma Linda, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.
Ramos is a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe. As a child, Ramos lived with his family in a mobile home in one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the county. To help support his family while attending school, he worked in fast food restaurants and as a janitor in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Ramos attended local public schools and graduated from San Gorgonio High School. Recognizing the importance of education, he went on to receive an Associate Degree in Business at Victor Valley College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at California State University, San Bernardino, and a Master of Business Administration Degree at the University of Redlands. Ramos is the first Native American named to the California State Board of Education, the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees, and the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
The assemblymember is a strong proponent of mental health support services and in 2020 authored AB 2112 which created the state office of suicide prevention. Other legislation include measures to assist families confront school bullying and measures to streamline access to children’s psychiatric residential treatment facilities, increase workforce development opportunities, and combat homelessness, particularly for youth. He has also supported youth diversion funding to prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system.
He chairs the Assembly Committee on Military and Veteran Affairs, the California Legislative Native American Caucus, the Select Committee on Native American Affairs, and the Select Committee on Youth Homelessness in San Bernardino County. He also serves on the Assembly Budget committee and is a member of its subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Other committee assignments are Governmental Organization, Local Government, and Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy.
Ramos has long worked on issues to foster Native American opportunity and participation, and preserving California Native language and culture. He co-founded the San Manuel Band’s Cultural Awareness Program, was director of the annual California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference at California State University, San Bernardino and is past chair of the California State Native American Heritage Commission.
During his time in the legislature, Ramos has introduced numerous tribal-related bills to increase awareness about Native American culture and history, provide equity to tribal foster youth, and include more instruction about California’s First people in classrooms across the state.
Ramos and his wife, Terri, have been married for more than 30 years.