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Andrew Rodriguez

Episode 001

Youngest Mayor in the History of the City of Walnut

Council Member Andrew Rodriguez is a lifelong resident of Walnut. When elected and sworn in, Andrew was California’s youngest council member serving in municipal government at the time. He was elected to serve as Mayor in July 2019, making him the City’s youngest Mayor in history.

During his tenure on the Walnut City Council, Andrew has worked to provide exceptional service to the residents of Walnut. He and his colleagues have balanced the city’s budget annually, updated the city’s general plan for the first time in forty years, and have worked with law enforcement to address public safety issues.

Born and raised in Walnut, Andrew attended public schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Andrew graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Minor in Planning and Public Policy.

While at Rutgers, Andrew found his passion for municipal management and land use policies, gaining valuable experience working for a non-profit redevelopment corporation dealing with urban revitalization issues in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He also worked for a public affairs firm in New York City, with clients in both the private and public sectors.

Andrew returned to California after earning his degree and performed an AmeriCorps service year in Los Angeles, working with high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

He has had private sector experience working as a land use consultant on projects throughout California and has a Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) from the University of Southern California.

In his spare time, Andrew enjoys traveling and reading. He has visited almost all fifty states and has traveled abroad extensively.

In 2014, Andrew spent several months in Australia studying comparative politics at the University of Melbourne. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Strong Towns, and other non-profit organizations. Andrew has an identical twin brother who is pursuing a journalism career in New York City.

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Andrew Rodriguez Quotes

  • “I walked and knocked on doors every day. I really do believe if you have the heart for public service, you need to go out and talk to voters and really hear what their issues and passions are.”
  • “I consider myself a public servant. I was fortunate enough that enough people in the city of Walnut trusted me to make decisions on their behalf. And I’ll always remember that. I think that’s what keeps me grounded.”
  • “You’ll know it’s time to run for office when people start approaching you and suggesting to you that you should run for office.”
  • “Being Mayor of the town you grew up in is the most fun experience ever.”
  • Andrew Rodriguez is a council member who has a strong connection to the San Gabriel Valley. Andrew and his twin brother were born and raised in Walnut, went to Walnut public schools, and graduated from Walnut High School.
  • Andrew spent four years at Rutgers University but immediately came back to SGV. In April of 2016, Andrew was elected.
  • Andrew’s personal interest and passion for public service was a passion passed down from his father, who had a fellowship with the Brookings Institute in 2001.
  • So, Andrew and his family would often travel to Washington D.C. to visit his father, which gave him an amazing first-hand experience of the value that accompanies public service.
  • In addition, Andrew graduated from USC with a Master’s Degree in Real Estate Development.

Has Andrew Rodriguez’s age impacted his experience as an SGV council member?

Andrew recalls that in his first three months in office, he met with a consultant with the city staff, and he said, “Alright, I think this is everyone. Where is the council member?”

And Andrew replied, “I’m right here.”

To which the consultant apologized and stated, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought you were the intern.”

No one believed that Andrew was going to win the election. He was simply considered an ambitious and bright 23-year-old directly out of college. Not to mention, he had the least amount of money in his campaign.

But, he was dedicated to getting out and knocking on doors in San Gabriel Valley and truly listened to residents.

How much support did council member Andrew Rodriguez receive during his election?

Andrew was thankful to have a respected and helpful mentor, J. Chen. He offered him knowledge of politics and how to run a campaign.

He would watch J Chen engage households and voters and all of the intricacies involved in speaking with and targeting voters.

It was an inspirational resource that helped Andrew mold exactly how he wanted to construct his campaign.

How does Andrew handle the mindset that many of his plans must benefit generations down the road?

Andrew is confident in his ability to plan, prepare, and help build a thriving future for Walnut City locals that will exist long after he is gone.

He truly enjoys the General Plan Update.

General Plan Update: Every municipality is required to have a land use document that guides the city in terms of growth.

It typically occurs every 5 to 10 years. However, the City of Walnut hadn’t updated its General Plan since 1978 – which is remarkably delayed.

Andrew took delight in pushing the City of Walnut forward with a new foundation of growth and planning for what the city could look like up to the year 2045 and beyond.

Is there a struggle Andrew Rodriguez has overcome in his personal life?

At such a young age, Andrew struggled with fear and insecurity that he did not have the qualifications or skill set necessary to succeed as a Walnut City Council Member.

When he did get elected, Andrew found himself surrounded by very successful and older businessmen and lawyers.

This led Andrew to be reserved and self-conscious during board meetings and other organizational meetings.

For about a year and a half, Andrew struggled with this feeling that he did not have the life experience needed to lead others and contribute to the conversations.

However, over time and with experience, this fear slowly chipped away.

What accomplishments are Andrew particularly proud of?

The General Plan Update was Andrew’s passion project that will last for decades, and he is immensely proud of it.

In addition, one unexpected aspect of Andrew’s experience was the pandemic. Andrew is proud of how he and the entire city were able to successfully navigate through COVID-19.

Are there any things Andrew would do differently?

Due to the excitement of becoming Mayor, Andrew found himself agreeing to every event and task. While it was a valuable experience, Andrew admits to hitting a little bit of a wall.

To avoid burnout, Andrew would have liked to spread out his energy.

Is there advice Andrew would offer aspiring council members?

Andrew’s advice is to not let other people tell you, “You’re not ready,” or to “wait your turn.” But, on the other hand, you have to work a lot harder.

You need to be educated on policies, prepared, and understand that your younger age is an immediate discredit to many people.

What are city council member Andrew’s goals going forward?

Andrew’s next mission is to become the California State Assembly in District 55.

While Andrew loved his term as a City Council Member, he is looking for growth and an opportunity to make a broader impact on the state of California.

Picture of Andrew Rodriguez

Andrew Rodriguez

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