She Is A Peruvian Immigrant And One Of The New Women Running Things In Government. Meet Elizabeth Guzman
Elizabeth Guzman made history this month when she became one of two Latinas to ever be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. She is joined by Hala Ayala in breaking that glass ceiling in Virginia, and she did it for all the right reasons. The Peruvian immigrant successfully unseated Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican who had been the delegate representing Virginia’s 31st district since 2002 and championed anti-immigrant legislation. Guzman spoke with FIERCE about why she joined politics and what pushed her to keep going.
The results of the 2016 election had a very powerful impact on Virginia Delegate-elect Elizabeth Guzman and her family.
— Elizabeth Guzman (@guzman4delegate) October 5, 2017
She recalls a moment after President Trump’s electoral win when her 9-year-old son told her their family needs to flee the country because they spoke Spanish. That pushed her to run for office, and kept her going throughout her campaign.
“I knew I had to stay in this race more than ever. I need to fight for my children,” Guzman says. “I need to fight for the children who look like them because they’re American.”
The fear felt by her children and community motivated her to fight for her place at the table.Elizabeth Guzman for Delegate / Facebook
Guzman first got the urge to go into politics during her time as a Bernie Sanders delegate.
“One of the things that he said when he did his concession speech was that we need to continue the revolution,” Guzman recalls.
This assured her that no election, be it at a state or local level, could ever go uncontested again.
“We need to fight for every single seat so we can make a difference,” she says.
It wasn’t uncommon for the delegate-elect to hear derogatory language about immigrants from leaders in her county and home state.
— Flippable (@flippable_org) November 12, 2017
Those words along with President Trump’s claims that immigrants bring in violence and drugs and undermine American workers, and the anti-immigrant voting record of her opponent Scott Lingamfelter, spurred her to take action. Guzman became determined to change the narrative.
The delegate-elect wants Latinas to know that their voice is more important than ever.
— Elizabeth Guzman (@guzman4delegate) September 16, 2017
For her, the historic victories of women from marginalized communities around the country is proof that more women need to engage with their elected officials directly. Latinos and Latinas need to speak for themselves on the issues that affect them.
“I think it’s important because our role is to explain to elected officials and legislators what our values are as Latinas,” Guzman says. “Elected officials and legislators should hear from Latinos and not some third party people who are not immigrants. They just don’t know the experience so they need to hear from us.”
One of Guzman’s key objectives is ensuring the representation of the diverse communities and cultures that make up the state of Virginia.Elizabeth Guzman for Delegate / Facebook
When the newly elected delegates in Virginia head to work in January, Guzman’s expects deeper, more inclusive conversations that reflect that diversity of individuals elected to office as well as the state as a whole. She believes this crop of delegates, with their different professions, class backgrounds and ethnicities, will bring productive legislation that positively impacts all Virginians. Guzman hopes to work amongst individuals who got into politics in order to make a real difference, as opposed to gain power within the rat race.
To the women concerned by the state of politics right now, Guzman’s message is to keep up the good fight, raise their voice and work to create the change they believe the world needs.Elizabeth Guzman for Delegate / Facebook
“Women are multifaceted by nature,” she says. “We can do anything we want when we do things that we are passionate about.”
READ: Everyone Is Still Talking About The 13 Women Who Made History In Last Week’s Election, Including The Three Latinas
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