This Latina Is Running For Congress To Represent Her ‘Hood
When Xavier Becerra was nominated to become California’s next attorney general, he vacated the seat for California’s 34th Congressional District. Upon hearing the news, Wendy Carrillo, a former writer for The Flama and radio host who lives in the district, hoped the seat would be filled by someone who understood her community. So she decided to run for Congress.
The El Salvador-born, Los Angeles-raised Latina is taking a gamble and running for Becerra’s former 34th Congressional District seat. mitú caught up with Carrillo and talked to her about why she decided to pursue public service.
Wendy Carrillo is a Latina taking a chance to represent her community.
“I’m motivated by the fact that I believe that we’re in a very pivotal moment in our country’s history in which we need fighters in Washington,” Carrillo told mitú about her run for Congress. “We need people that are completely, 100 percent unafraid to be vocal and be progressive and to bring perspectives that are often ignored in D.C. Being from the district, being an advocate and someone that’s been on the frontline of several movements, I feel like it’s time to step up.”
Carrillo, who once hosted a talk show on Los Angeles radio station Power 106, is doing things a little differently than most politicians.
“I have a lot of ideas that are out-of-the-box,” Carrillo says with a laugh about her campaign. “I want to get local radio stations involved in hosting house parties and having fun while we do this. I think, ultimately, it’s about issues and what’s important to you and what’s important to your family. The message that I want to say is that my story is not unique. It’s a story of struggle and survival but it’s also a story that a lot of families are facing.”
Carrillo says running for Becerra’s vacated seat was a pretty simple decision.
“I think the district looks like me. I think it looks young; it looks millennial; it looks smart and educated; it looks like it has its own history,” Carrillo told mitú. “So how does a refugee child from El Salvador escaping war become a leader in her community with a graduate degree that’s going to run for office? That only happens here. I’m a homeowner. I’m in the district. I’ve lived in the district. It’s been my stomping ground since I was a little girl. I have lived in every part of the district. It’s literally my place where I work and play.”
So, how does she plan on fighting for her district on Capitol Hill? Simple: “It starts with being vocal and being unafraid.”
“If I am fortunate and the voters elect me to represent them, that’s the kind of vision that I want to take to Washington. I think it’s important to be unafraid. I think it’s important to use new tools, to be on social media,” Carrillo said. “Things need to change and they only change by having an infusion of new people that have new ideas…. Washington is a place that’s stuck in time. We need people to go in there and shake it up.”
And she is modeling her own approach to politics to that of DREAMers.
“I give them 100 percent kudos for changing the narrative through which we looked at the DREAM Act way back in the day when nobody was looking at the DREAM Act,” Carrillo recalled. “The DREAM Act was supposed to pass in 2001 and then 9/11 happened and the country got scared of anybody that was an outsider. The DREAM Act, which would have helped millions of young people in this country, was put on hold.”
As an unconventional politician, Carrillo is open and honest about understanding the frustrations of her constituency.
“I think that we, as a country, need to have a huge overhaul of the electoral process. I would urge our young Latinos and our young people to get involved with the party and fix it from the inside out and demand, as a party, that we start having real discussion to eliminate the Electoral College,” Carrillo told mitú. “If the election would have been counted by the popular vote, then Secretary Clinton would be our president. I would also say that it’s not always about a presidential race. There are many local races to get involved in that have a lot of local impact. We tend to look at it like having to vote on a presidential election and having to vote to make a difference, and it does. The voting and actual direct impact comes from the community.”
“I believe I am the candidate that can represent the whole district,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo added: “People should vote for me because they believe in the ideals that America has the opportunity to be the country of what can be and what should be.”