Things That Matter

Regina Romero Is Tucson, Arizona’s First-Ever Latina Mayor And Supporters Are Celebrating

Voters in Tucson made their voices heard on Tuesday night by electing Regina Romero, the city’s first female and first Latina mayor. The three-term former Tucson City Council member ran on a campaign platform centered around combating climate change, improving the city’s infrastructure and education system, as well as expanding opportunities for immigrant communities. 

Romero, 33,  who is Mexican-American, captured the historic victory by claiming nearly 56 percent of the vote, according to Tucson.com. She beat out opponents Ed Ackerley, an independent who received 40 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Mike Cease, who got 4 percent. Romero beat out two other Democrats in the party’s primary back in August.

“At a time when our national politics have been sown with division, Tucsonans remain united by our shared desire to promote a safe, just and sustainable city that provides economic opportunity for our families and future generations. This movement is open to everyone — whatever your background, whatever your party, whoever you voted for — let’s work together! We will always be one Tucson — somos uno,” Romero said at her campaign victory rally.

Romero’s victory is significant not only because of her background but because of political impact in the state of Arizona.

Credit: @LatinoVictoryUS / Twitter

The mayoral victory for Romero is a landmark moment for the typically left-leaning city of Tucson. While its population is near 44 percent Latino, the city has never elected a Latino mayor since Arizona became a U.S. state. Only once before 1854 had a Latino ever held the office.

Mayra Macías, the executive director at Latino Victory, a political action group aimed at increasing Latino voting power, said that the victory is a historic moment for all, especially women. 

“Councilwoman Regina Romero shattered one glass ceiling when she became the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council, and now she’s broken yet another one by becoming Tucson’s first woman and first Latina mayor,” Macías said in a press release. “Her groundbreaking election is a testament of who she is as a leader and all the incredible things she’ll accomplish for the people of Tucson as their new mayor.”

There is a number of key issues that Romero will be taking on as mayor including climate change and immigration. 

One of the first issues that Romero will take on as mayor is focusing on plans that the city can implement to respond to climate change.

If we want to move our economy to a progressive place, if we want to continue investing in our infrastructure, if we want to continue creating high wage, long term jobs we have to tackle climate resiliency in our city,” Romero told Tucson.com. “We are the second city that is heating up the most right after Phoenix and so we’ve got to work immediately on it.”

She will also be taking on a more controversial issue at hand in immigration. Voters in Tucson voted against a proposed sanctuary city initiative that Romero opposed as well. Instead, she plans to work on repeal the controversial state law of SB 1070 that allows police to determine the immigration status of any individual that they stop or arrest. Romero has long advocated for immigrant rights and says that the real issue at hand isn’t the title of sanctuary city but the bill. 

“The root of the problem is SB 1070, and we’ve got to demand in a unified front with a unified voice that Governor [Doug] Ducey and the state Legislature repeal SB 1070,” Romero said.

Democratic presidential candidates chimed in on the victory throughout the day relaying the message of the importance of representation. 

Credit: @JulianCastro / Twitter

Democratic presidential hopefuls Julián Casto, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders took to Twitter to congratulate the historic victory. Romero joins a wave of Latino firsts that have come in the last year when it comes to taking office.

“We need more Latinas to run, and win!” Castro, the lone Latino Democratic candidate, wrote on Twitter.

“Congratulations to @TucsonRomero, the first Latina mayor of Tucson, on her historic win last night—and to @LUCHA_AZ and the other grassroots community activists that fought hard for this progressive victory.” Sanders wrote. 

The mother of two children, who was born in Somerton, Arizona and graduated from the nearby University of Arizona, will now be the only Latina mayor in the country’s 50 most populous cities.

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A Latina Is Running To Be Mayor Of Salt Lake City And Her Views Are Slight Departures From Her Mormon Faith

Things That Matter

A Latina Is Running To Be Mayor Of Salt Lake City And Her Views Are Slight Departures From Her Mormon Faith

luzformayor / Instagram

For all the hardship and trauma inflicted on Latinos since Trump’s 2016 presidential victory, there has been an equal rise in Latinas giving voice to power through political office. The 2018 midterms gave Latinos a refreshing glimpse of hope for the future and has ignited a swell of women running for office.

Luz Escamilla has been ahead of that welcome uprising and is enjoying her third term as a Democratic Senator for Utah. Now, she’s running to become the mayor of the state’s capital, Salt Lake City. If she wins, she’d become the first person of color to represent the metropolitan city, a blue-voting population surrounded by a deep sea of red.

Luz Escamilla is a Mexican immigrant and was inspired to run for office in 2007, after a shockingly degrading policy move that treats first-generation Americans as second-class citizens.

Credit: luzformayor / Instagram

Escamilla was the director of the state Office of Ethnic Affairs when she listened to a Republican legislator dismiss equal education opportunities for “anchor babies” in a legislative committee hearing. The offensive term is used by anti-immigrant folks to describe American born children of noncitizen parents. She told The Salt Lake Tribune that she was in shock. Nobody in the room, including Democratic legislators, said anything.

Later, they told her that those children were not their “constituency.” She knew that Utah needed a representative who would adequately represent the most basic needs of marginalized immigrants.

Since 2000, the Latino population in Utah has doubled, making up 14 percent of Utah’s population.

Credit: luzformayor / Instagram

Latinos have flocked to Salt Lake City, a liberal hub in the otherwise deeply red state. Today, Latinos are the largest minority of Utah’s total population. As mayor, Escamilla will prioritize the families and children of Salt Lake City. She wants the city to help provide affordable, high-quality childcare for working parents, after school programs, and simplify access to healthcare by providing nurses and counselors to every Salt Lake City school.

Escamilla would also become the first Mormon to serve as Salt Lake City’s mayor in 30 years.

Credit: luzformayor / Instagram

While that fact may not be a problem for the rest of Utah, Salt Lake City residents are wondering how The Church of Latter-Day Saints’ belief system might be adapted as city policy. Like many practitioners of religion, Escamilla doesn’t see eye to eye on everything with her church. As Senator, she’s voted to ban conversion therapy, an effective hate crime against LGBTQ+ people. 

Knowing the LGBTQ+ community becomes leery after learning someone’s religion of choice discriminates against their basic rights, Escamilla has made a concerted effort during her campaign to ensure LGBTQ+ people know she’s on their side. Escamilla walked in SLC’s Pride Parade and tabled at the festival wearing a rainbow patterned serape. She’s also voted to loosen restrictions on alcohol sales.

Among her top three issues are clean air and homelessness.

Credit: luzformayor / Instagram

Homelessness is a multi-faceted issue, that Escamilla plans to tackle from SLC’s unique perspective. She wants to convene the forces of the public sector and non-profit and private sectors alike to share resources and research at getting to the root of the problem. In the meantime, her short-term plan is to invest in shelters and make more beds available during winter months.

As air pollution worsens, asthma rates skyrocket, and Escamilla wants to get at the source. Escamilla will first work towards creating a stronger public transportation system, which she calls “active transportation.” She hopes residents will feel more compelled to walk or ride than hop in their cars, reducing air pollution. Then, Escamilla will then redesign city-owned buildings to become as sustainable as possible while using as few resources as possible. 

Escamilla has been endorsed by many Democrats, including a March for Life co-founder.

Credit: luzformayor / Instagram

Escamilla was born in Tijuana, México, and moved to the United States in 1996. She finished high school in San Diego and moved to Utah to attend the University of Utah, where she majored in Business Marketing. She later earned a Master’s in Public Administration, after working in the nonprofit sector to help end domestic violence. Escamilla has since served 11 years in Congress and has passed legislation that creates after school programs, healthcare access and clean air for all. 

In a meet-and-greet reported by the Los Angeles Times, Escamilla told the crowd, “I’ve always had people tell me, ‘Voters will never elect a Mexican. They’ll never elect an immigrant. Now they’re bringing up my religion. People have been trying to put me in a box forever. It’s not going to work. I’m not just one thing.”

READ: Regina Romero Won The Democratic Primary In Tucson And Now Has The Chance To Be The City’s First Latina Mayor

VIDEO: Drunk Driver Runs Red Light And Good Samaritan Saves Family Crossing Through Intersection

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VIDEO: Drunk Driver Runs Red Light And Good Samaritan Saves Family Crossing Through Intersection

@phoenixpolice / Twitter

The Phoenix Police Department shared a chilling street camera video that depicts the moment a family of three, with another on the way, were almost mowed down by a man believed to be driving drunk. Ulysses Betancourt and his wife, Gabrielle Burns, had just gotten off the bus. With their baby, Damian, strapped into his stroller, the family of three watched the crosswalk signal turn on, and started crossing the street.  

Suddenly, a Jeep speeds past the red light and into the intersection, just feet away from hitting the family in what would likely have been a fatal accident. Thankfully, an innocent driver in a Chevy Cruz plows into the Jeep just in the nick of time. The Phoneix Police Department is dubbing the driver “a hero” that “may have saved the lives of a couple pushing a stroller through a Phoenix crosswalk.”

The street camera footage clearly shows the family making their way across the street.

Credit: @phoenixpolice / Twitter

Gabrielle and Ulysses were doing everything right. The footage shows the walk signal begins to countdown, signaling the couple that it’s still safe to cross. Several cars making left-hand turns were trying to beat the red light by turning into the crosswalk, though the pedestrians had the right-of-way.

Suddenly, you see the Jeep pummeling straight toward the family.

Credit: @phoenixpolice / Twitter

The Chevy Cruz had a green light, and no way to expect a speeding Jeep would suddenly enter the intersection. For everyone but the drunk driver, it was as normal night as any. “An angel in the form of a Chevy Cruz may have saved the lives of a couple pushing a stroller through a Phoenix crosswalk at 53rd Ave & Indian School,” the Phoenix Police Department tweeted. “The innocent driver will be OK.  The red-light runner was arrested for DUI.” Shockingly, nobody died in the accident.

You can see just how close the accident occurred from the family.

Credit: @phoenixpolice / Twitter

Phoenix police have arrested Ernesto Otanez Oveso, 23, for driving under the influence and aggravated assault. Later, officers found a gun in the Jeep and tacked on a prohibited possession charge to his rap sheet. Oveso was released hours after his arrest.

Oveso and his unidentified female passenger both allegedly fled from the scene on foot. One witness averted their plans for the evening to tail Oveso. Once Oveso noticed he was being followed, he allegedly pulled out a knife and started to stab the car doors of the witness. 

Here, the Betancourt family is obscured by the collision happening just feet away from them.

Credit: @phoenixpolice / Twitter

The cars skid off to the right-hand side of the frame–exactly where the family was waiting to cross just 10 seconds before. If the family didn’t cross the street at that exact moment, they would have likely died. If the Chevy Cruz didn’t drive into that intersection at that exact moment, the family would have likely died. It’s a miracle if anyone’s seen one. One Twitter user said, “Miracles happen everyday. We were fortunate to observe one in this moment.”

“I can’t believe how close we actually were to being hit,” Ulysses shared on Facebook.

Credit: Ulysses Betancourt / Facebook

Me and Gabrielle Burns are the family crossing the street,” Ulysses Facebook captions the street camera video. “That night was scary seeing it from a different point of view I can’t believe how close we actually were to being hit.” A flood of comments from family and friends sent love to the family. 

Wow that is so scary. Glad you made it out safe that really was a close one,” comments Facebook friend Yadhira Chaparro. “Hope you guys are ok emotionally thats a lot to take in. I’m sure you are hugging your family even more tightly today.” Another friend, Daniela Isabel Galvan says, “I got the chills just watching it dude. So happy you guys are good! Los quiero mucho.”

Meanwhile, the xenophobes are doing their thing.

Credit: @investors_az / Twitter

Overwhelmingly, they’re of gratitude that the Betancourt family is safe, and hope that the consequences for Oveso lead to a life of recovery from the insidious disease of alcoholism.

“I feel like god was really looking out for us,” Ulysses shared in a social media post.

Credit: Gabrielle Burns / Facebook

In response to the influx of love and support coming from his Facebook friends and family, Ulysses shared his gratitude. “I’m so thankful nothing happened to my family,” he posted. “Especially because I had my son and another one on the way. I feel like god was really looking out for us.” Bendiciones.

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