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Guest Post: Making History - My Journey as A Candidate By Aura Vasquez

My name is Aura Vasquez, and I'm running to be the first Afro-Latina elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

My upbringing first sparked my interest in the power of change and mobilization. Growing up in Colombia, my father took me to town hall meetings and my mother taught me how to communicate through reading, writing, and reciting poetry. When I was eleven years old, I founded my school’s first environmental club after learning about Ozone-layer destruction and global warming. I was raised to believe that my voice mattered, and that—as a young woman in a patriarchal society—speaking truth to power was a radical act.

After fleeing Colombia with my parents in 1996 during “la era de violencia,” I found myself in New York City. We were in a new country, cast as outsiders or as "Latino"—one word that's supposed to describe everyone from Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego. I put myself through college working days and nights, was an intern for Congressmember Eliot Engel, and then worked at the United Way. I was on the road to making the world a better place.

In 2009, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a community organizer. I have spent the past decade organizing on the most transformative issues in Southern California. I fought to get driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. I fought for better housing practices and community benefits on my neighborhood council. As an LADWP Commissioner, I fought to transition Los Angeles’ energy sources away from coal and natural gas and created a pipeline for green jobs.

I'm running for Los Angeles City Council, to give a voice to those that traditionally have been unheard of. Running for office is a lonely path. I chose it because, if not me, then who will speak up for the voiceless, those living in the shadows? Our community deserves a representative that is going to fight for them. We’ve seen too many career politicians running for City Council as a stepping stone for something bigger. This practice needs to stop. Los Angeles needs someone who understands what’s like to struggle. I’m an Afro-Latina immigrant from Colombia, fired up to represent my community with a shared vision of diversity, inclusivity, resiliency.

As a political newcomer, I don't have a Rolodex of wealthy donors to fund my campaign. I’m not in the pocket of big ANYTHING. Not oil, not Tech, not Development. My campaign is powered by everyday people hungry for change. I have been told that the system does not favor the outsider, that it's going to be too difficult or that I should wait my turn. But our community can’t wait for change and I am answering the call of people living in our neighborhoods who feel like City Hall has left them behind. A core part of my campaign is engaging voters who have been disenfranchised and underserved for so long.

In Los Angeles, we have a representation problem. It is not okay for a City that is 47.5% Latinx to have only 27% representation in the City Council. It is not okay to have a City that is at least 50% female but represented by only two women in a 15-person council. Women of color have so much more work to do at the local level. Representation matters. The district I am running in is 49% Latinx, yet we have never had a Latinx representative. It's time to fix that.

We are living in scary times. The divisive, racist rhetoric coming from the White House has created an openly hostile environment, even in a Blue State like California. Too many immigrants live in fear, and our environmental protections are constantly under attack. It is vitally important that we act locally, and electing progressive women is one way to fight back.

We need everyone to participate and vote in every office, up and down the ballot. I encourage you to register to vote, and then make your plan to vote. Recruit your family members to vote. Let’s make all of our voices heard.

I'm running for City Council in Los Angeles to fight for my community, for the environment, and for the soul of this country. I hope you’re in this fight with me.

Aura Vasquez is a candidate for Los Angeles City Council. You can find her on social media at:

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