politics

6 Reasons Why You — Yes, Hermana, You — Should Run For Office

Women are running for office at record-breaking numbers. According to Politico, at least 575 women have announced their bid for the House, Senate or governor, many alluding to President Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement as inspiration for their campaigns. Whether fed up with how the old boys’ club is directing the nation or hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream to serve their community, their place in government is essential.

The United States ranks 101 in the world when it comes to women’s representation in national office, with ladies making up just 20 percent of Congress, 25 percent of state legislatures and only six of 50 governors. For women of color, the numbers are even more shameful. Currently, there are nine Latinas serving in the House and just one, the first and recently elected Catherine Cortez Masto, in the Senate.

Simply put, there are not enough Latinas in government — and that is true at all levels, from city to state to federal. Without women of color, our governments not only fail to represent us but they will also never govern at its highest potential. That’s because women have proven time and again to be more productive and progressive in political office than men. Several studies show that we introduce more legislation, are more likely to work across political lines to pass necessary laws, bring more funding into our districts, are less corrupt and are bolder leaders.

We need more women, especially women of color, serving in all ranks of our government. In fact, we need you — young, multicultural, Black and brown Latina women — in office, leading our communities and our country. We, who constitute the future of this nation, will make our governments more inclusive, attentive and effective.

FIERCE chatted with Jenn Addison, the digital and creative manager at She Should Run, a nonpartisan organization that encourages women to consider a future run for office and provides them with resources and community to kick off their path to elected leadership, about why you — everyday Latina who may or may not have ever considered a career in politics — should run for office.

1. You would help make our government more inclusive.

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

In order to have a government that’s by the people and for the people, Addison says “we need a government that represents the people.” This means that Latinxs, who account for 17 percent of the population and continue to be one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the nation, and women, who are a majority in the country, must be present in our government.

2. You are more likely to understand the people you represent.

(Image Credit: Juana Matias for Congress)

As a member of a multiracial, multicultural and multilingual population, you are more likely to understand the experiences and needs of the diverse people you represent. You, who lives on the border of so many identities, are a bridge for people of various racial, immigration, class and gender backgrounds. “We can’t have the best policies if we don’t have the best and brightest minds of all backgrounds at the table,” Addison told us.

3. You are active in some of the most pressing issues.

(Image Credit: Lucy Flores / Facebook)

From immigration, criminal justice and poverty to reproductive rights, environmental racism and education, you — or your family — are likely directly impacted by some of the most pressing political issues, allowing you to take into account the shared lived experiences of you and your constituents when introducing and passing legislation. “Your perspective as women of color, Latina and Black woman, is essential in politics if we want solutions to big challenges we face as a nation,” Addison said.

4. You are qualified.

(Image Credit: Nanette Barragán for Congress)

While there might be a dearth of women in political leadership, we are not in short supply of ladies who lead. The problem, according to Addison, is that we don’t view our experiences as leaders in our homes, schools, churches and communities as sufficient, though it is. “Imposter syndrome, not realizing that you are qualified or feeling like you don’t belong, is a barrier that stops women of color from running, but shouldn’t,” she said. The qualities we gain from our life-long service to our communities — commitment to people and causes, clear and respectful communication, honesty and integrity, decision-making, accountability, empathy and empowerment — all make us eligible for elected office.

5. You will hone your leadership skills.

(Image Credit: Wendy Carrillo for Congress)

Running for public office, whether you are elected or not, provides candidates with valuable experiences and lessons. Through campaigning, you build networks, confidence and leadership skills. “They are already leaders, and running for office will help them to effect more change, locally and civically,” Addison said.

6. You can inspire the next generation.

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

Not seeing yourself represented in politics makes it difficult to envision yourself there. “It sends the message that there is not a space for me there,” Addison said. Running for office allows others to visualize a different political reality and inspires the next generation to consider that path for themselves. “Young people need to see themselves leading if we want them to grow up believing that they can be anything. Women stepping up and being the first will send that message to girls,” she continued.

Inspired to run for office? Find resources and community over at She Should Run.

Read: Democrats Hope To Flip The House From Red To Blue — And They Believe These Latina Candidates Could Help

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Austin Council Member Delia Garza Just Became The City’s First-Ever Latina Mayor Pro Tem

politics

Austin Council Member Delia Garza Just Became The City’s First-Ever Latina Mayor Pro Tem

In Austin, Texas, city council member Delia Garza was elected mayor pro tem on Monday, making her the first Latina to serve in the role in the city’s history.

But this isn’t the only time Garza, who represents southeast Austin’s District 2, has broken barriers. In 2014, the Mexican-American politico became the first Latina elected to Austin City Council, currently serving in year three of her second term.

Following the unanimous appointment from her council colleagues, Garza, 42, stressed the need for more Latina representation in Austin’s city government, where 36 percent of its estimated 885,000 population is Latinx.

“I want young Latinas in Austin to look at our leadership and see themselves and know that they can serve in this capacity or achieve whatever goals they set their minds to,” Garza, a Democrat, said, according to ABC affiliate KVUE. “I’m proud to be the first Latina elected to this council, but I’m also saddened that it’s taken us this long to have a Latina on council.”

In the new position, Garza will be required to run city council meetings in the absence of Mayor Steve Adler.

“Delia’s passion and caring for the people of Austin has moved the council forward. I look forward to her leadership as mayor pro tem as we take on the difficult challenges facing the city,” Council Member Ann Kitchen, of District 5, said.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar also shared his support. “Since before we were on council, I have known council member Garza as a progressive leader who never forgets who she is or where she came from,” he said. “As our city’s first ever Latina mayor pro tem, I am confident that she will continue her advocacy and leadership for those who need it most across our city.”

Before entering elected office, Garza, who holds a law degree, was a firefighter with the Austin Fire Department and an assistant attorney general in the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

Read: Like Every Congressional Freshman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Making Some Beginner’s Mistakes

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reveals Portrait Of New Congressman And Promises To Vote Against Nancy Pelosi

politics

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reveals Portrait Of New Congressman And Promises To Vote Against Nancy Pelosi

Today, Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is being sworn in to take her place as the representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. She first took the world by storm in June when she won the Democratic primary in an upset 2018 midterm election primary against incumbent Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley. Since then, she has made a name for herself as a progressive candidate — and shown the country what a young woman of color can do. Thankfully, she is not alone.

Yesterday, Ocasio-Cortez shared a powerful image of the history-making women of the 116th Congress.

Yes, as she proclaims in her Instagram account, these women — and hope for a new generation of history-making candidates — are finally in the building. In the image, taken by photographer Martin Schoeller for Vanity Fair, six women are seen proudly standing (and sitting), ready to take their place in American history. All of them are women of color and all of them are making history today.

Among them, from left to right, are Ocasio-Cortez, who at age 29 will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, the first hijab-wearing member of the House, Deb Haaland, one of the first indigenous women in Congress, Veronica Escobar, one of the first Hispanic women Texas has ever elected to federal office (along with Sylvia Garcia, not pictured), and Sharice Davids, also one of the first indigenous women in Congress (along with Haaland) as well as the first openly LGBTQ person to represent Kansas in Congress.

“We did not come to play” accompanies the image of the six new Congresswomen from Vanity Fair. Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez simply titled the image “Sí, se puede” on her Twitter.

Vanity Fair calls these women “the new wave,” along with the dozens of others in the Democratic Party who are young, nonwhite, LGBTQ, and mostly female, but we just call them an awesome representation of the real America. With Ocasio-Cortez and the other women in this powerful new photo being sworn in today, it’s impossible not to have hope about what 2019 will bring. As for her part, Ocasio-Cortez maintains the “not here to play” spirit.

“There [are] so many people that know that we’re going into the lion’s den,” Ocasio-Cortez said in November, “even within the party.”

Meanwhile, fans of Ocasio-Cortez are celebrating her impending start in Congress and the powerful image on social media. Comments of support on Instagram include those from the young and old alike, Latina or not, with love pouring in as she starts her first day.

“This is the future for my grandkids. Thanks, Ladies now get in there and kick some behind,” wrote @mrshouse_ on Instagram, with other comments pouring in. “This is what history looks like,” wrote @advofoscar. “This is an awesome pic! So proud to have so many strong females representing this country FINALLY! Give them hell ladies! ????????,” wrote @ashbwright. “oh my gosh. i love all of you and everything you represent!!!,” wrote @mobespierrre. “I dream of the day where this picture isn’t special but rather the norm,” wrote @contactcamacho.

Still, despite the lion’s den direction that she and her fellow congresswomen have anticipated, Ocasio-Cortez has proved she has no plans of backing down on her ideological beliefs.

In a recent tweet, the new congressman wrote that she would vote against the House rules package proposed by her party’s leader Nancy Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez’s resistance to the new guidelines tabled by the Democratic party includes a rule known as PAYGO or “pay as you go.” The rule would require any legislation increasing spending or cuts to be offset by budget cuts to spending or tax increases. PAYGO can only be rejected if it receives a majority vote.

On Twitter, the reaction is just as optimistic — including from other powerful women already in Congress, like Kamala Harris.

It is definitely a historic Congress this year. Not only are there 100 women being sworn in, as Harris pointed out in her tweet, but so much history being made. “The future is bright,” indeed. Thank you for your support, Senator Harris.

Other tweets showed Ocasio-Cortez next to another new fellow Latina to join the 116th Congress, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida.

Mucarsel-Powell was one of the Latinas who rose to politics in 2018 and made us so very proud. She was elected to represent Florida’s 26th congressional district and the first Ecuadorian-born person to be elected to the U.S. Congress, as well as the first Latina member born in South America.

Some of Ocasio-Cortez’s fans have reacted to the photo by encouraging her to “fight hard.”

Her followers are celebrating her start in Congress and congratulating her for already being someone that plans to stand up for what she believes in. She continues to use social media to grow her platform and people are listening.

Meanwhile, other fans simply told her to “go get ’em!”

This is pretty much how we feel, honestly.

Ocasio’s Spanish-speaking supporters have also taken to Twitter to congratulate her momentous win and the viral photo of the six women making history.

Sí, se puede! Or, as we usually like to say… SHE SE PUEDE.


Read: Ricky Martin Shared The Best News To Start The Year And His Fans Are Overjoyed

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