With all of the recent press about the Latino voter enthusiasm gap, I thought that it would be a good idea to profile some up and coming Latino leaders who are running for local office. While people tend to get excited about electing a president every four years, voters have a better chance of holding their local elected officials accountable than they do presidents or even senators and congressional representatives. In a more perfect democracy, everyone would be interested in the people running for local judge, DA, assembly, state senate, school board, and city council. We know what happens when citizens aren’t paying as close attention to these local elected officials, especially in light of the City of Bell pay scandals.
One up and coming Latina leader that I have learned about in recent weeks is Lucy Flores, Democratic candidate for Assembly District 28 in Nevada. Flores has a compelling story having risen out of poverty and a history of gang involvement and crime. Fortunately, she made a change upon leaving a juvenile detention facility as a teen, pursued higher education, and is now a viable political candidate. You can learn more about her journey in this video:
Since Lucy Flores is running for office in Nevada, where the tea party candidate Sharron Angle has been in a tough battle with Nevada Senator Harry Reid and in light of Angle’s recent commercials that take an anti-Latino tone, I was curious about how the public was receiving Flores’s candidacy and message, which is on the progressive side of the spectrum. Flores told me, “If anything my campaign is getting more attention to mobilize the Latino community. In my district, 70% of the voter registration is Democratic…making my run rather safe. This allows me to reach out to people who I wouldn’t otherwise including those who voted for the first time in ’08.”
When I asked Flores about Latinos who may feel inclined to sit out this election or not participate because of the lack of movement on immigration at the federal level and the economic situation, she said, “Now is not the time to sit out. I have been educating people about Senator Reid and his advocacy for people in the state, acting as a community ambassador. We may experience an up ticket phenomenon in Nevada, where people who show up to support me may end up supporting Senator Reid.” Flores also expressed concern about the credibility issues that Sharron Angle has, and this has been widely documented.
Because Flores has a lot of union support, I asked her about the teacher’s unions and the notion that these organizations stand in the way of reform, especially in light of the new documentary Waiting for Superman. Flores responded that she understands the concern many teachers who are in unions have about performance based evaluations because there really isn’t a good way to track them, but she is receptive to finding a way that assesses teacher effectiveness. She also added that she isn’t a fan of tenure for everyone and thinks that teachers aren’t paid enough, which doesn’t help attract or retain qualified people in the profession.
To learn more about Lucy Flores, check out her campaign website.