Ana Maria Jara was born in 1958 the second of two daughters. Councilmember Jara’s family had a long proud history of public service. Especially her great-grandmother Maria who was a town leader in Pueblo Nuevo Tiquisate, Escuintla, Guatemala. Teaching her early on the importance of human dignity in all people. Councilmember Jara’s great-grandmother would say: “desde el basurero hasta el presidente que se sienta en la Casa Crema, necesitan ser escuchados al mismo nivel y con el mismo respeto”. From the Street sweeper to the President who sits in the Casa Crema, need to be listened to at the same level and with the same respect.
In 1964, her mother immigrated to the United States as a permanent resident, with a job contract in hand. She left behind a career, a good job, two daughters and her entire family in search of the dream… Councilmember Jara first traveled to the United States to visit her mom in 1966 for two months. She describes the long trip from Guatemala through Mexico and finally arriving to Los Angeles. Upon her mother picking them from the Greyhound station and driving through downtown LA and looking at the tall buildings as such a God send that to this day every time she drives through downtown it provides a huge sense of relief and of a welcoming embrace.
In March of 1968 Councilmember Jara traveled once again to the United States but this time as a permanent resident. Upon arrival she attended John Muir Elementary. There she attended ESL classes during reading time to learn English. In November of that year the family moved to another part of Santa Monica and she transferred to McKinley Elementary School until the ending of the 1970 school year. At that time, she and her sister were enrolled in a catholic boarding school in Tecate, Baja. California. She would return home every summer break and would enroll in classes in Santa Monica so as not to lose the English she had learned.
In June of 1974, after graduating from high school she came back to Santa Monica and enrolled at Santa Monica College at the age of 16. She graduated with an AA degree in Liberal Arts in June of 1976 at the young age of 18. Shortly after she got married and had her first daughter Ana G. In a later relationship she had her three other daughters Kristina, Lisa and Bianca. In 1984 she moved into the rent-controlled apartment in the Pico Neighborhood where she still resides. It is because of her daughters that she began advocating for youth through the PTA. This began her years of service in Santa Monica. With her focus always beginning with working-class families, her leadership, policy portfolio, and advocacy has grown to include:
Councilmember Jara has and will always work for the people, has always worked for equity and justice, for good jobs and inclusive economic opportunities. In these challenging times, these are the priorities of Santa Monica residents and her priorities.
As a long-time renter in a City that is 70% renters, she will continue to work for tenant rights and protections. She is a strong advocate of affordable housing and works hard to ensure Santa Monica continues to meet the need for affordable housing, and that all neighborhoods have access to green open spaces, to libraries and farmer’s markets where residents can support local farmers and gather with family, friends and neighbors.
Councilmember Jara knows firsthand the issues that plague Santa Monicans, from housing insecurity and traffic to economic instability. For decades she has worked on the ground with residents, youth, parents and families. That first-hand experience gives her insight to policy making through an equity lens, being intentional and using a different and inclusive approach in decision-making. She understands that the process is just as important as the outcome for many. Councilmember Jara has always begun addressing an issue by listening to those most impacted, working alongside them to generate solutions and advocating for change. She sees residents as leaders, problem solvers and change agents. She is a community and city leader, an innovator, and a bridge builder. She is not afraid of hard work and her experience and proven track record of action clearly proves it.