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She’s Running: Sandra Sepulveda Could Be The First Latina On The Nashville Metro Council

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

Growing up, Sandra Sepulveda wasn’t dreaming about becoming the first woman president or introducing legislation as a state lawmaker. When she studied political science in college, she wasn’t visualizing herself campaigning for elected office. But this year, looking around her community and seeing how much it had been ignored, she did the previously-unimaginable: put her hat in the ring for Nashville Metro Council.

“I’ve been here for 20 years. I’m invested in this community. I’m running because of my neighbors. They’re my people,” the 25-year-old first-time candidate told FIERCE.

Born in Riverside, Calif. and raised in Nashville, Sepulveda spent most of her life in the district she wants to represent. She studied at its public schools, shopped at its supermarkets and dined at its mom-and-pop establishments. She also spent days without running water or light, didn’t have access to a local library and saw the struggle it was to get around without a reliable vehicle.

As a majority-minority district, the Mexican-American contender’s side of Nashville isn’t what’s portrayed in popular media. Here, there are no parks, no libraries and no community centers, despite its low-income residents needing these services and resources.

This is why she’s running.

We chatted with Sepulveda about making the difficult decision to run for office, what she hopes to do for her district, what serving her community would mean for her, the need for young voices and fresh ideas in politics and much more.

FIERCE: Why did you decide to run for Nashville Metro Council?

Sandra Sepulveda: I never thought I was going to run for office. That was never in my plan. But I started looking at my community, and I felt like we have been ignored for so long. My part of Nashville is a very diverse district; it’s a majority-minority district, and if you look at other parts of the city, they have more resources than we do. We are the only one that doesn’t have a community center, library or park. There also aren’t many sidewalks. There are a lot of people that live below the poverty line. I couldn’t sit back. I wanted someone who understood where the district was and who the people are, someone who could really represent them. That’s something that is important to me. I’ve been here for 20 years. I’m invested in this community. I’m running because of my neighbors. They’re my people.

FIERCE: I know that your priorities are tackling infrastructure, transit, public safety and education. Why are these issues currently crucial to your district?

Sandra Sepulveda: Like I said, a lot of people in my district live below the poverty line and rely on public transportation. I’ve been knocking on doors, and I’ve learned that people can’t get to stops safely because there are no sidewalks. They run the possibility of getting run over while walking to bus stops. That being said, we don’t have that many bus stops or bus shelters here. People who do use public transportation have to walk on the edge of the road to get there and don’t even have a bus shelter if it’s raining. We need simple things like this: sidewalks, bus shelters, more bus routes. It doesn’t even have to be that hard. A little could change a lot for us here.

FIERCE: During a talk you gave at a recent event, you said “there’s a voice in District 30 that has been ignored for far too long” and that you want to “amplify this voice.” How do you intend on doing this on metro council?

Sandra Sepulveda: What that would mean is I would have more town hall meetings to hear what the people want and need at this point. I would require a lot of input on them. Our district needs different things than others, so I would sit down with them regularly, just as I have been now that I’m running. I’ve been giving out my cell phone number in case people have questions or concerns. It’s putting the community first.

FIERCE: In that same talk, you said that District 30 is the only one in Nashville that doesn’t have a community center, library or public park. That’s astounding. What does a community lose when it does not have these local services?

Sandra Sepulveda: It’s something that boggles my mind. Kids are coming back from school and they don’t have access to the Internet, so they have to drive to a library in another district to do research on a computer for homework. Parents have to do the same to apply for jobs. We need a community center, where the community can meet, for kids to have a safe place to play. We don’t have a park. A lot of the kids are riding bikes on the street, because there’s no sidewalk. They risk something dangerous happening to them just for wanting to play. Some are lucky and have backyards, but not all do. What about the kids who live in apartments? We need these resources.

FIERCE: As a working-class woman, Latina and young person, what do you think these identities, and the perspectives and experiences that come with them, can bring to Nashville Metro Council that is new or needed?

Sandra Sepulveda: I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, that’s a fact. Sometimes, I’d come home and the water or light would be shut off because my family couldn’t pay it on time. A lot of people in Nashville are struggling, hardworking people. I know what that’s like. I know where they’re coming from. I would be able to represent them. With the cost of living going way up in Nashville, some people are getting left behind, and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen. As a Latina, I’d also be the first Hispanic woman elected to the metro council. There’s a man, but I’d be the first woman. Our community is growing so quickly here in Nashville. We are opening so many businesses and becoming such a big part of Nashville. I think it would be great to have more people that could represent them, and I want to be able to do that.

FIERCE: Of course, you are much more than your identities. You are the operations director for the Tennessee Democratic Party and studied history and political science in college. How do you think these experiences and the skills you’ve gained through them prepared you for this office?

Sandra Sepulveda: Back in college, I interned for two political campaigns. I know what the field work of it looks like, how to run a campaign. In my last semester of college, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life when someone from that internship, from that campaign, called me and asked if I wanted to work at the party after I graduated. I immediately jumped on it. I’ve been here for almost four years. I’ve done a lot of the day to day making sure the office is running smoothly. Now, I’m also doing the fundraising work. I look at the budget and work with the executive director.  I look at fundraising goals and plan actions for income. I’m not completely new to many of these things. I might be 25, but I’ve been doing this for a couple years. Also, we have to make sure we are training the next leaders, to include them. I hope that people wouldn’t be counting me out because of my age. There’s a willingness to learn and listen from young people.

FIERCE: 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?

Sandra Sepulveda: A lot of what I’d be doing on the council is more local, but there is one thing the current federal government is doing that affects the people of Nashville that I could help. The Trump administration’s voucher plan would hurt us. Our public schools aren’t getting the funding they deserve. I went to metro public school here from kindergarten to high school. I remember a time where multiple classrooms shared one book. We didn’t have funding. It’s stuff like that that I want to make sure someone is paying attention to. I lived that firsthand and know what it’s like to not have many resources for you in public schools. Teachers work so hard, and they need to be compensated the way they deserve. I feel many metro public employees are not getting the attention they need and deserve. So that’s one thing that would affect us on a local level being pushed at the federal level.

FIERCE: You’ve lived in District 30 in Southeast Nashville for 20 years. You were raised here, went to public school here, worked here. What would it mean to you to represent the city and people who helped make Sandra Sepulveda?

Sandra Sepulveda: Oh man! It means a lot to me. I grew up here, and it would mean so much to give back to the community that made me the person I am. I want to make sure I do right by them. I know a lot of people say what you want to hear. That’s not me. I want to make sure I put them before anything else. This is not about me. At the end of the day, it’s about them and that they’re taken care of. Come August 1, my mom, who is an immigrant and came here when she was 14 years old, is going to walk into the voting booth and see my name, our last name. That’s something I never thought of, something she never thought would happen. So I want to make sure I do right by her and the people of District 30. It’s big, really big, and I’m trying not to cry right now.

FIERCE: Wow, yeah, I feel that! 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?

Sandra Sepulveda: Get involved, get involved right now. We need so much help in politics. We need volunteers, people who know the issues and are passionate about the issues. We need all the hands we can get right now. If there are any young people that look at me and see themselves, the best thing to do is get involved. Start right now. Don’t wait. You can’t wait.

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

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Indigenous People In Guatemala Marched On Their Capitol In Support Of Evo Morales

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Indigenous People In Guatemala Marched On Their Capitol In Support Of Evo Morales

evoespueblo / Twitter

South America’s poorest country, Bolivia, is in the midst of a political crisis, and Guatemala’s indigenous people are marching in solidarity with ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales. After the Guatemalan government joined the United States in recognizing extreme right self-appointed Jeanine Anez as the interim president of Bolivia, Guatemala’s indigenous people expressed their outrage in an organized protest. Hundreds of indigenous people marched in Guatemala’s capital Thursday to protest the change of government, which they view as a coup d’etat of Bolivia’s first indigenous president. With a “Brother Evo, Guatemala is with you” banner in hand, the protesters marched toward a heavily guarded US embassy. The next day, Morales announced that he won’t be “taking part in new elections.”

Before Morales rose to the presidency, he was a campesino activist, representing indigenous traditions and customs under attack by the US government. “We are repudiating the discriminatory and racist coup d’etat that took place in Bolivia,” said Mauro Vay, march organizer and head of Guatemala’s Rural Development Committee. 

Protesters proudly waved the wiphala flags, an indigenous symbol of solidarity.

CREDIT: @UKREDREVOLUTION / TWITTER

This man held an image that told the story of a thousand words. As a child, Evo Morales’ family were subsistence farmers, which allowed him to enjoy a basic education. He later moved to grow coca, the raw plant used to make cocaine. During the U.S.’ “War on Drugs,” coca farmers were under attack. Morales rose to defend the campesinos from what he called an imperialist violation of indigenous culture. His protests may have led to several arrests, but his notoriety grew to elect him to Congress as the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party. 

In Paraguay, Bolivian ex-patriates went up against the police to rehang the wiphala flag at the Bolivian embassy.

CREDIT: @WILL_J_COSTA / TWITTER

Several indigenous residents of Paraguay arrived at the Bolivian embassy to hang the Wiphala flag, which was reportedly taken down. They faced police resistance but eventually succeeded. The next day, the flag was removed. 

In 2005, Morales ran against former President Carlos Mesa and won, becoming the first indigenous president of Bolivia. 

CREDIT: @BRETGUSTAFSON / TWITTER

Then, it gets murky. By the time his first term was over, MAS rewrote their constitution to lift the one-term limit on presidents. Morales ran for a second term and won. Even though he claimed he wouldn’t run for a third term, Morales claimed the first term didn’t count because it was completed under the old constitution.  So he ran again and won for the third time. In October 2019, Morales ran for his fourth term, and won by a small margin, prompting a recount.

Just 24 hours into the recount, Morales ordered the recount to an end and declared himself president over his opponent, former president Mesa. the Organization of American States (OAS) conducted an audit that flagged the election as possibly fraudulent.

The OAS is not in the service of the people of Latin America, less so the social movements. The OAS is at the service of the North American empire,” Morales later said. Still, protests erupted across the country.

In a quickly developing government coup, military chiefs removed Morales.

CREDIT: @FAFASCHMITT / TWITTER

On Nov. 10, General Williams Kaliman, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, decided, along with other military chiefs, that Morales should step down. Morales tweeted, “I denounce to the world and the Bolivian people that a police officer publicly announced that he is instructed to execute an illegal arrest warrant against me; likewise, violent groups assaulted my home. A coup destroys the rule of law.” He added, “After looting and trying to set fire to my house in Villa Victoria, vandalism groups of the Mesa and Camacho coup docked my home in the Magisterio neighborhood of Cochabamba. I am very grateful to my neighbors, who stopped those raids. A coup destroys peace.”

Mexico offered him asylum and sent a plane to escort Morales to Mexico City.

CREDIT: @EVOESPUEBLO / TWITTER

“This was my first night after leaving the presidency, forced by the coup of Mesa and Camacho with the help of the Police. There I remembered my times as a leader. Very grateful to my brothers from the federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba for providing security and care,” Morales tweeted. Right-wing Christian opponent, Luis Fernando Camacho, also called “Bolivia’s Bolsonaro,” led violent protests against Morales and his Indigenous supporters, burning Bolivia’s Indigenous Wiphala flag. 

Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Argentina have maintained that his removal from office was a coup. The United States, led by a right-wing president, has recognized Bolivia’s interim right-wing president as valid.

Morales announced Friday that he won’t run for president in the reelection “for the sake of democracy.”

CREDIT: @VERSOBOOKS / TWITTER

Morales resigned Sunday after protests left four people dead. “For the sake of democracy, if they don’t want me to take part, I have no problem not taking part in new elections,” Morales told Reuters while remaining in asylum. “I just wonder why there is so much fear of Evo,” he offered.

READ: A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

House Committee Holds Impeachment Hearings And Democrats Are Laying Out All Of Their Evidence

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House Committee Holds Impeachment Hearings And Democrats Are Laying Out All Of Their Evidence

PBS NewsHour / YouTube

This past Wednesday, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump moved into the public spotlight when the House Intelligence Committee opened hearings in the Capitol. The day was marked with back and forths between members of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, that further displayed the political divide in this country. The issue at hand is whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, by freezing U.S. military aid. 

One of the key figures in leading the proceedings is Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has been a frequent target of President Trump. The congressman is heading the Democrats’ investigation into whether Trump abused his presidential powers for political gain and against national security interests. The proceedings are expected to last at least 10 days and will be a showcase of what many Democrats believe is an opportunity to show the American public why Trump needs to be removed from office. 

“Our job is to shape public opinion, not just follow public opinion,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Vox. “It’s to do what we think is right, for our country, for our national security, and to persuade people of that.”

One of the biggest moments on the first day of the impeachment hearings came from Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) who made the argument that Trump’s actions were “criminal.” 

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), who is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the chairman of his brother Julián Castro’s presidential bid, had one of the most notable moments on Wednesday. In speaking to Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Castro tried to make the case for President Trump’s actions as criminal. Taylor is a key figure in the  proceedings as he was the top U.S. official in Ukraine as the scandal was unfolding. 

In a tense moment between the two, Castro asked Taylor if he considered President Trump’s actions worthy as being labeled as “criminal.” Castro didn’t back down as he made the comparisons to Trump’s actions to other criminal offenses. 


“So ambassadors, is attempted murder a crime?” Castro asked, repeating his question. “Is attempted murder a crime?”

“Attempted murder is a crime,” Taylor said.

“Is attempted robbery a crime?” he asked.

“Neither of us is a lawyer,” Taylor began before Castro interrupted.

“I think anyone in this room could answer that question,” he said.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say yes it is,” Taylor said.

“Is attempted extortion and bribery a crime?” Castro responded. 

“I don’t know sir,” Taylor said.


The moment resonated with many people on social media who agreed with Castro’s reasoning. 

Credit: @madg_lulu22 / Twitter

Castro’s questioning prompted varied responses from people online that agreed with that Trump had indeed committed a crime by withholding money from Ukraine. One of those people included U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) that echoed similar thoughts to that of many Democrats. 

“This is what I have been saying over and over again. Attempting a crime is a CRIME. #ImpeachmentTrumpNow,” Talib tweeted. 

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer later Wednesday afternoon, Castro reaffirmed his position on his questioning with Taylor. “Based on the evidence that I’ve seen, the President… either he committed extortion and bribery of a foreign official or he committed attempted extortion and bribery of a foreign official… it’s still a crime.” Castro said.

This moment is huge for Castro outside of just the hearings as he pursues to challenge U.S. Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas). Many are looking at Castro’s role in the hearings as an opportunity to make his name known in the Democratic party. 

“It’s an opportunity in the national spotlight,” Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor, told The Statesman. It’s a chance “to reemerge on the national scene and bolster his overall relevance in the Democratic Party.”

This was one of many big moments on the first day of these impeachment hearings. 

Credit: @alexismhodges / Twitter

If these public hearings are anything like the first day, there will be a lot of action on both sides of the political aisle. Wednesday showed proof that Democrats will pull out all the stops in presenting their case for impeachment to the American people. 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has been one of the most staunch opponents of the Democrats’ attempts to impeach President Trump. During the hearing, Jordan said that the whistleblower was “the reason we’re all sitting here today” and that they should testify before the impeachment inquiry. The goal in doing so would be to discredit the whistleblower’s credibility. 

But Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) quickly responded to Jordan’s claims by naming the actual person who started the entire Ukraine scandal.

“I’d be glad to have the person who started it all,” Welch said. “President Trump is welcome to come in and sit down right there.”

The quick exchange produced laughter and applause from some in the room. Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in on the moment. “Don’t sleep on Peter Welch!” she wrote on Twitter. “He’s great.”

If Wednesday is anything like the rest of these hearings we are all in for a real treat for the next few weeks. 

READ: Remembering Pedro Zamora, The HIV-Positive Man Who Changed Hearts And Minds While On ‘Real World: San Francisco’