FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Fresno’s first Latina councilmember, Esther Negrete Padilla, was honored Wednesday with a memorial highway on a section of State Route 168.
Esther Negrete Padilla was the first Latina elected to the Fresno City Council back in 1991. She played a pivotal role in the construction of both Highways 180 and 168.
“She served four years on the Fresno City Council representing her district well and ensuring the construction of much-needed infrastructure in housing development along southeast Fresno,” said Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria.
The housing development runs along the portion of State Highway 168 – which was officially dedicated the “Esther Negrete Padilla Highway” – between the interchange of State Highway 180 and ending at Shields Avenue.
“That’s why Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula and I found that this specific section of the highway to be just perfect in honoring her,” said Councilmember Soria.
Esther Negrete Padilla was raised in the Central Valley and is described as dedicating her life to rights for farmworkers and improving the community. Her family was on hand for the dedication and remembers her with pride.
“I am very proud of this day. I am proud of Esther. Esther was a great person. She did a lot for this community. She was always the first to do things,” said Gilberto Padilla, Esther’s husband.
“I hope a smile just comes upon their face to know that they see her name and they have a happy memory of what they shared and if they didn’t know her maybe they can look her up and find out information about her and what a great woman she was,” said her daughter Adelita Padilla.
“To me, she’s a reminder that we belong in these places,” said Soria.
The celebration of Esther Padilla’s legacy was timed to coincide with the conclusion of Latino Heritage month.