From New York To San Diego, These Candidates Are Standing Up For Their Latino Communities

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Seats in all level of government are up for grabs for the midterm elections and there are some new faces joining the world of politics. Candidates are out there running for state legislatures, seats in Congress and some governorships. However, before new candidates can compete to take these seats, they must first make it through the primary elections.

A primary election happens before the general to narrow down the field of candidates to two candidates, usually, who battle it out for the prize. Primary season began in March and will end in mid-September, depending on the state you live in.

As campaigning continues, we are beginning to see the candidates of color who are seeking change with progressive platforms. Let’s get to know the leaders of the next generation who represent the underrepresented.

Roza Calderon

Running for Congress to represent California’s 4th district, Roza Calderon, 32, wants to represent people’s needs over party interests. Hailing from Lincoln, California, Calderon is the daughter of a Salvadoran refugee and understands the importance of the American Dream. An activist for blue-collar families and geoscientist, Calderon’s platform includes combating climate change, promoting Medicare for All, and building an inclusive economy.

Part of her motivation stems from the lack of inclusive policies pushed by her opponents. In an interview with the Press Tribune, Calderon states, “I want to make sure that people have jobs. I want to make sure that people have the ability to negotiate fair wages and that’s really what I’m fighting for.” Calderon would become the first Latina representing California’s 4th district if elected.

Nelson Araujo

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Currently representing Nevada’s State Assembly District 3, Nelson Araujo, 31, is campaigning to be the next Nevada Secretary of State. His parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador to escape the Civil War in the 1980s. Araujo is motivated to run for Secretary of State because he believes Nevadans deserve a voting system that is just and protects the rights of every eligible voter. Araujo also states, “I believe an open government depends on fair elections and that will be my guiding principle in office.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is running to represent New York’s 14th congressional district. Born to a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez continues to work with families of the Bronx and Queens as an educator, organizer and service worker. This has allowed her to learn more about the experience of everyday people, which inspired her to run for Congress.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s main platform issues is banning super PACS to end the financial corruption at the expense of her community. Additional platform issues include paid sick and family leave, federal aid for Puerto Rico, and infrastructure renewal. Ocasio-Cortez would become the first Latina representing New York’s 14th district, if elected.

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Hailing from East County, San Diego, Ammar Campa-Najjar, 29, is running for Congress to represent California’s 50th district. He lived in San Diego before his family moved to Gaza as a child. However, Campa-Najjar, his brother and mother relocated back to San Diego after the war broke out. His working-class upbringing motivated him to run and give back to working families. Additional congressional interests include election reform, gun safety, and universal healthcare. Born to a Mexican-American mother and Palestinian father, Campa-Najjar could be the first Latino-Arab American to be elected to Congress.

Juana Matias

Born in the Dominican Republic and currently residing in the U.S., Juana Matias, 30, is running for Congress to represent Massachusetts’ 3rd district. Matias states on her website that her family pushed her to go to college before she eventually pursued law school. She worked her way to becoming Massachusetts’s first Latina State Representative. Matias understands what communities face firsthand, especially at a time when the American Dream is under attack. Matias’s platform includes the fight for a better education, the protection of immigrant rights, and the creation of quality jobs. In a video posted on her Facebook account, Matias states, “To me, politics is personal because we’re talking about people’s lives.” She would become the first Latina and immigrant representing Massachusetts’ 3rd district if elected.

Sam Jammal

Sam Jammal, 36, is running for Congress to represent the 39th district of California. Raised by immigrant parents from South America and the Middle East, Jammal saw his parents sacrifice many things in order for him and his siblings to have a better life. Jammal has a message on his website that states, “We need leaders who can stand up and fight to make sure our government gets back to the basics and represents our best interest.” His platform issues include fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights and honoring veterans. He could become the first Latino-Arab American in Congress or share the title with Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Amanda Renteria

California is searching for a new governor and Amanda Renteria, 43, intends to hold that elected position. She was born in the U.S. to a Mexican father and American-born mother, both former farmworkers. Renteria received her degrees from Stanford and Harvard. She was the first Latina Chief of Staff of the U.S. Senate and now she is ready to take on her opponents in the race for governor of California. Renteria’s gubernatorial platform includes access to clean air and water, freedom from harassment and discrimination, and preparing children for the 21st century economy. Her goal is to make politics about people again. Renteria would become the first woman and Latina as California governor.

What you need to know. And what you can do.

You can make a difference. The most crucial act you can take during the primary elections is to vote. Not only can it create diversity in politics, but it can also lead to more equitable policies for underrepresented communities. Learn more about all candidates running in your state and remember to vote during the primary elections!

  • California – June 5, 2018
  • Nevada – June 12, 2018
  • New York –  June 26, 2018
  • Massachusetts – September 4, 2018


READ: We Spoke With Ammar Campa-Najjar, The First Latino-Arab Running For Congress

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