My Story and Why I Am Running for CD 34

 

It is with a great sense of purpose that I announce my candidacy to represent California’s 34th District in Congress. This is the nation’s first congressional race since the November election, and now more than ever, we must send our fiercest and most experienced advocates to Washington to fight for our country’s future.

Until recently, I felt that the biggest contribution I could make to our community was through my decades-long work as an urban planner, shaping the city I love through affordable housing and community development. But that changed on November 8, when the causes I have fought for -- affordable housing, our fragile safety net, immigration reform, public education, living wages, and environmental, worker and consumer protections -- became endangered.  As a result, I feel compelled to take my fight on behalf of our community to Congress.

I have been an advocate my entire life. I have a track record of getting things done even in the most inhospitable of climates. That’s exactly what we need right now.

I was born and raised in East L.A., the daughter of immigrant parents. My mother never attended school in her native Mexico and didn’t learn to read until she was in her fifties. My father took the bus to Beverly Hills every morning to work as a tailor. Thanks to my parents’ hard work and constant encouragement I was able to attend Phillips Exeter Academy for high school. I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s in urban planning from UCLA.

My entire professional career has been dedicated to public service. I founded the East LA Community Corporation and made it into one of the most effective progressive non-profit organizations in Los Angeles. During my sixteen-year tenure as the group’s President, we raised and invested more than 200 million dollars in our community. We built child-care centers, apartment buildings, single-family homes, and retail spaces; we organized hundreds of residents around equity issues and helped countless families become homeowners. Over the course of my career, I have created over 1,000 units of affordable housing for families, veterans, seniors and the homeless.  The fruits of this labor of love can be seen from Koreatown to the east side of Los Angeles.

I am running for Congress because the America that made my story possible is in danger. I refuse to allow the door of opportunity to close for the generations that follow me.

As a longtime advocate and builder of affordable housing, I know that homes play a critical role in stabilizing families and communities. Without a stable home, families cannot create security, support their children’s education, or build a future. But unfortunately, housing in Los Angeles is in crisis.  Too many Angelenos can’t afford to keep their homes. Seniors and many others are doubling up. Homeownership is growing further out of reach for working families. And we have the largest unsheltered homeless population in the country.

Sadly, the new regime in Washington is indifferent, if not hostile, to strengthening our communities; the only thing they talk about building is a wall. But I have a proven track record of bringing government resources to our communities, and in Congress, I would be in an even stronger position to continue that work.

Those who have met me know that I have a soft voice, which is the result of a disability. But there is nothing quiet about me when it comes to fighting for what I believe. My disability and my struggle to overcome it have helped me to understand the frustrations of those who don’t have a voice. The families and communities I have worked for -- and with -- will tell you that no one has been a stronger voice for them.

I want to be a voice for all Angelenos, especially those who face an uncertain future with Donald Trump as President. I want to help our country fight back against the tide of anger, indifference and intolerance. I want to make sure that the opportunities that made my story possible are available for future generations. And I want to make sure that the economic recovery reaches every neighborhood in Los Angeles.

But most important, my soft voice will be a strong and effective voice for our community. It always has been, and always will be.

Join me in this campaign, and let this be the year that we harness our energy to have our collective voice heard. Let 2017 be the year that WE ran for Congress because we were determined to make sure that America remains the land of opportunity for everyone, not just for a privileged few.

Juntos, todo es posible. Together, everything is possible.

 


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