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She’s Running: Social Justice Leader Erika Almirón Is Ready To Represent Philadelphia’s Most Marginalized In Public Office

She’s Running is a FIERCE series highlighting Latinas running for office in local, state and federal elections.

Editor’s Note: This story has been changed for correction. An earlier version inaccurately stated that Almirón would be the first elected official of Paraguayan descent in the country. She will be among the first, and the first in Philadelphia, but not the first nationwide.

Philadelphia has a powerful history of political activism, and in recent years, Erika Almirón has been considered one of its biggest social justice warriors. Now, the Paraguayan-American is vying for a seat on the city council, where she hopes to create change for the people of her city in new ways.

Almirón already has a history of impactful change-making, though. As the executive director of Juntos, an immigrant rights group in the city, she helped make Philadelphia the most progressive sanctuary city in the county. Before then, as assistant director of the Philadelphia Student Union, she pushed back against the criminalization of young people.

“I’ve been doing social justice work for 20 years,” Almirón told FIERCE. “It’s time to be a voice inside city council representing the people accurately.”

Currently, more than 40 candidates are trying to get on the ballot to run for city council at-large in Philadelphia, but should Almirón win, she would be among the first elected officials of Paraguayan descent in the country and the first in Philadelphia.

We chatted with Almirón, a first-time candidate, about her run for office, the biggest issues impacting Philadelphia today, how she’s prepared to tackle them and more.

FIERCE: Why did you decide to run for Philadelphia City Council?

Erika Almirón: I think that there’s this moment right now. I’ve been doing social justice work for 20 years. In the last eight years, I was leading Juntos, an immigrant rights group in Philly. It became apparent that there’s an opportunity right now for someone like me to run. After all my years of building coalitions, it’s time to be a voice inside city council representing the people accurately.

FIERCE: I know that your three priorities are tackling housing justice, decriminalization and police accountability as well as education equity. Why are these issues currently crucial to your city?

Erika Almirón: I’ve spent the last two decades doing social justice work, both in education reform and immigration as it intersects with criminal justice work. I’ve been working in Black and brown communities. So it’s very natural for these issues to be important to me. I’ve watched people in high school get criminalized. I know what the school-to-prison pipeline looks like. I spent eight years battling the deportation machine locally and across the country and watching policing and racial profiling. Those two issues are super important to me. And, naturally, as someone from this city and has seen how it’s gentrifying so quickly, especially Latino communities, housing and stability has been one main issue. Landlords are evicting tenants, rent is doubling in one year, neighborhoods are gentrifying so fast. And it’s not just impacting Latinos. It’s across the board and city. Being able to push for something like rent control in Philly would transform our ability to stay.

FIERCE: Your campaign slogan is “Fighting For All Of Us.” How do you intend on doing that on city council? What does fighting for all look like for you?

Erika Almirón: I’ve spent years building coalitions and fighting at intersections. I fought to have a DA that reflects our values, and Philly now has the most progressive DA. I fought to make Philly the most progressive sanctuary city. I was able to do this through coalition work. That’s how we win, when we build communities together, especially communities you don’t expect to work together because the powers that be want to keep us separated. Building citywide coalitions that are fighting for all the issues that matter and pushing that forward is what fighting for all looks like.

FIERCE:  In your first campaign video, you stated you would not be taking corporate money, PAC money or real estate development money. Why?

Erika Almirón: I want to run a campaign that’s reflective of my values. I don’t want it to be different from who I’ve been my whole life. I don’t want funds that guide my desire and I don’t want this city to think that’s happening. When you talk to me, I want you to know I’m guided by what the people need and not money.

FIERCE: As a working-class woman, Latina and child of Paraguyan immigrants who are small business owners, what do you think these identities, and the perspectives and experiences that come with them, can bring to Philadelphia’s city council that is new or needed?

Erika Almirón: I say it all the time: I was born in Philly to immigrant parents. I understand intimately what it means to be a working-class woman, what most of the city is going through. I know the struggle of putting food on the table, job access, college access for poor and working-class people of color, trying to understand processes as first-generation people. I know what people are going through. Philly is the poorest of all the big cities in the country, and it’s also majority-people of color. That’s not a coincidence. There’s a stark divide of people who have and don’t have.

FIERCE: Of course, you are much more than your identities. You’ve worked directly on education reform as the assistant director of the Philadelphia Student Union and you have successfully fought on behalf of immigrants and the decriminalization of Black and brown bodies as the executive director of Juntos. How do you think these experiences and the skills you’ve gained through them prepared you for this office?

Erika Almirón: I think all of those experiences. I understand what it takes to move power. I understand what movement-building looks like and how to do it effectively. That requires building coalitions, drafting policies, making legal arguments. It’s not just about knowing what the right thing is but about challenging power. I feel very prepared to be in city council.

FIERCE: You have been doing social justice work around Philly and the US-Mexico border for the last 20 years. How could holding a seat in public office allow you to carry this work forward in new ways?

Erika Almirón: I think what it does is it creates space for a woman of color, a Latina, to have a voice on the city council. I also think Philadelphia has shown ways it could be the most progressive in the country. I just see how in these dark times, when we have such a racist oppressive man as president, that Philly can be a beacon to show the country what is possible when you come together.

FIERCE: On that, it’s often said that the biggest and most effective change is done locally. What are you prepared to do or work on locally to combat the policy and rhetoric coming out of the White House?

Erika Almirón: I think it’s doing what I’ve been doing. Even recently, I’ve been fighting to get the accent on my last name on the ballot, because that’s never happened for a Latino candidate, and they originally said no but just recently, just this morning, they said they’ll fix it. This is a win. We are making sure our identities are not erased, which is exactly what we are seeing from our federal government. Trump is actively trying to criminalize and erase our people. There’s a lot of policies I’d like to push forward, but I’d like to start with rent control. Undocumented communities are being hit hard. They don’t have access to loans for homes, they’re being pushed out of their communities quickly and rents are rising. If this is not tackled, our immigrant hubs will disappear.

FIERCE: Finally, as a first-time candidate, I think you can offer a lot to young Latinas who aspire to run for office. Do you have a message for Latinas with political dreams but perhaps see those as unfeasible?

Erika Almirón: I would say that it is time for women like us to take the seat that we rightfully deserve in power. Everything seems scary until you do it. Everything I know about Latinas is that we are a resilient bunch, and it’s so important that people find strength within themselves to do what they know they can do and fight for what is right and get those seats we deserve.

Read: For 160 Years, Denver Hasn’t Had A Woman Mayor — Lisa Calderón Could Change That

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Women Are Speaking Out About What Changed Their Minds About Abortion

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Women Are Speaking Out About What Changed Their Minds About Abortion

Mark Reinstein / Getty

With so much at stake this election year, it’s important to understand the circumstances behind some of our biggest beliefs. Currently there are little questions as to whether Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is in opposition to a person’s right to abortion. Her Catholic faith, her academic writing, and accounts from friends affirm that she has opposes the medical procedure. During a 2017 confirmation hearing for her current position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Coney Barret stated that she was bound to follow the Roe decision as an appeals court judge stating “Roe has been affirmed many times and survived many challenges in the court… And it’s more than 40 years old, and it’s clearly binding on all courts of appeals. And so it’s not open to me or up to me, and I would have no interest in, as a court of appeals judge, challenging that precedent.”

There’s likely no chance of changing her mind, but we were curious about how women felt.

A recent post on Reddit posed the question: What changed your mind on abortion?

Check out the answers below!

“Being pregnant (with a very much wanted baby). I’ve always been pro choice, but learning about how much can go wrong in a pregnancy made it very apparent abortion is far from a black and white issue. For example, say the fetus has some defect where it can be carried to term, but will 100% die shortly after birth. There is no reason the mother should be forced to carry out the whole pregnancy. There are so many other nuances like this that are not possible to legislate.” – kittyinparis

“having one myself. i was religious, orthodox christian once upon a time. i hate to be one of those people who didn’t understand something until i experienced it myself but it is what it was. i extremely naive and ignorant because i thought that it was as simple as “don’t get pregnant if you don’t want a kid”. but it’s really not. and you never know what someone’s story is. and even then, regardless of their situation i think if someone doesn’t want to be pregnant it’s immoral to force them to be.” – Reddit user

“Honestly? Biology class. They went over sexual reproduction step by step and I just couldn’t buy the whole “humanity begins at conception” thing anymore. Then I started reading what all those scary buzzwords meant and I got a bit pissed off. Turns out the evil “partial-birth abortions” are usually called D&Es and they’re usually only done to babies with no chance of survival or in the cases of miscarriages. That’s not evil. That’s sad. I felt lied to, in a big way.” – Moritani

“I learned more about the concepts of bodily autonomy and consent and decided that it’s wrong to force people to remain pregnant against their will.” – enerjem

“When I first learned about the concept it seemed like a terrible thing but even after just 20 minutes of research (I did a lot more clearly, but this is just to emphasize how simple this decision was) I became pro-choice at 14ish, and I’ve had that stance ever since. So I only barely changed my mind really, but I think it counts because without looking into it I could’ve gone on believing it to be morally repugnant just because of what it sounds like and because it’s a subject that’s so easy to get carried away on and not look at objectively.” – ypical_Humanoid

“Paying my own bills. It’s a lot harder to feed two mouths than one.” – Reddit user

“Having kids. Pre-kids i was very prolife. Went to rallys and everything. Would have stressed and felt guilty if i got pregnant and dont knownwhat i would have chosen though. 4 kids later and several oops…im very pro choice.” – Strikingachord

“I was pro-life until I was about 13. I figure my brain developed more and I was then better able to see the issue in a more global and expansive way and determined that pro-choice was the most ethical stance.” – searedscallops

“Meeting someone in college who had had one in the past, and who spoke openly about it. She didn’t regret it or torture herself with guilt and shame over it, but she wasn’t a depraved monster, either. She was a wonderful person who did what was best for herself and her situation.” –coffeeblossom

“Having to get one myself.” –aj4ever

“I don’t know that I was ever pro-life in the same way I don’t think I was ever really Christian. I grew up in an Evangelical Protestant denomination, and until about middle school I mostly parroted things I heard. Things like “hate the sin love the sinner” for anything from being gay to probably having an abortion.

Sometime around middle school I started questioning all of it, forming my own opinions on things. I landed on atheist pro-choice feminist and have stayed there since.” – DejaBlonde

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Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

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Joe Biden Walks Away With Final Presidential Debate On Healthcare, Covid, And Many Issues

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden sparred during the final presidential debate. The two presidential nominees debated on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to Trump’s finances. President Trump started controlled and quickly lost control of his temperament and spiraled for much of the debate.

First, people are giving the praise to the moderator, journalist Kristen Welker.

Welker is a reporter and White House correspondent for NBC News. As moderator of the final presidential debate, Welker kept the conversation moving forward. She was also able to stop President Trump on numerous occasions when he began spiraling as the debate went on.

One of the most stunning moments was President Trump claims that low IQ immigrants show up to court dates.

“Only the really – I hate to say this, but those with the lowest IQ. They might come back,” Trump said.

That was President Trump’s response to a question about catch and release. The catch and release program allowed for immigrants to come to the U.S., declare their intent for asylum, and be released to, usually, family members. They are then given a court date to plead their case for asylum. An overwhelming number of asylum seekers do show up to their court cases to make sure they have the chance to seek asylum.

The Trump administration eliminated the program and began what is called “Remain in Mexico.” The current plan forces migrants to wait in other countries while waiting for their day in immigration court.

When given a chance to address the 545 migrant children missing their parents, President Trump claimed they were being taken care of.

President Trump dodged questions about healthcare.

The rushed confirmation of Supreme Court Justice pick Amy Coney Barrett could have serious repercussions for people and their health care. The Trump administration is going to be challenging the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, in hopes of overturning the healthcare law. This would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and pregnancy.

There is currently a lot of debate over whether or not a Covid-19 diagnosis would become a preexisting condition. More than 220,000 Americans have contracted the virus and the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy because of the Trump administration.

President Trump still hasn’t released his tax returns.

Recent news about President Trump’s taxes made national headlines. Americans learned that President Trump recently paid $750 in taxes and that the president has a private bank account in China. According to his own tax returns, Trump paid more than $188,000 in taxes to the Chinese government. The bank account was previously unknown information.

Joe Biden appealed to the American voters and families.

Biden avoided getting into arguments during the debate and kept focused on the issues and how they impacted the American family. From Covid to the economy, Biden touched on all of the issues that keep American families up at night. Biden offered plans to stop the spread of Covid-19 but promoting the use of masks and safely reopening the U.S. economy to boost the economy and save lives.

Viewers are calling the debate a victory for the Biden campaign.

Several snap polls form different organizations show that people consider Biden the winner of this debate. Biden told the American people that is was running to be the American president, not a Democrat president. Biden promised to be the president for all American people and to take care of everyone, regardless of whether or not they voted for him.

READ: The First Presidential Debate Went Off The Rails Fast And The Internet Had Fun With It

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