Acquanetta Warren remembers her parents sticking her in front of the TV every night to watch the news, determined that she be informed of current events and of her own history as an African-American. “They were both from Birmingham, Ala., and they made me a big student of civil rights,” she says. “I decided back then that I’m going to change things.”
Warren is now the first African-American and first woman mayor of Fontana, Calif., where she has worked to improve the city’s fiscal strength, promote public safety and lower obesity and other health problems. She founded Healthy Fontana, a program that’s been credited with helping lower hospitalization rates for obesity-related illnesses in the city by 47 percent. Previously, in 2002, Warren became the first African-American city councilmember in Fontana; she was elected mayor in 2010.
Warren is a Republican, though she says party affiliation doesn’t matter in local politics. “You can see at the state and federal level what the parties have done,” she says. “But locally, people just want to know the streets are going to be swept and when they call 911, someone is going to be there.”