Their representation in politics has always been scarce, but in the 2020 election there are more Latinas in the candidate pools than ever before.
A record-shattering 75 Latinas are running as congressional candidates for the US House and Senate this election cycle with representation from both the Democratic and Republican parties.
If elected, these Latinas will be making history this year and have already shattered glass ceilings by fighting to have Latina representation on the ballot.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in Congress, has become a trailblazer and paved the way for many of these Latina politicians to run for office.
Georgette Gómez made history as the first LGBTQ Latina elected as San Diego City Council president. Now her sights are set on becoming the first openly LGBTQ Latina member of Congress.
“As a Queer Latina and the daughter of immigrants, I know that representation matters,” she told The Americano.
“I’m honored to represent my community,” Gómez told The Americano. “I’ve been able to deliver results for San Diego families and move progressive priorities forward, from affordable housing to action on climate change.”
Gómez has also strengthened protections for low-income renters and allocated millions in funding for community enhancement, including street repairs, parks, and libraries.
The first-generation American is an environmental activist and was the former associate director of the Environmental Health Coalition where she spearheaded the Toxic-Free Neighborhoods Campaign to protect kids from lead paint and block polluting industries from locating in residential communities.
It’s no surprise that the eco-warrior’s campaign has been endorsed by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and former presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, two of the powerhouses behind the Green New Deal.
Then there’s Christina Hale, who could be the first Latina sent to Congress from Indiana. Should the Democrat win she’ll flip the state’s 5th Congressional District seat blue. The Purdue grad earned her degree while raising her son as a single mom. She’s a lifelong Hoosier giving her an innate understanding of the challenges that families in the 5th District face daily.
Hale, who has Cuban heritage, was motivated to run for the state’s House after seeing that her community’s needs were repeatedly ignored. She won her campaign and went on to pass over 60 bills, every single one with bipartisan support. Hale became known as “someone who got good things done for people.”
Thanks to her campaign, Indiana’s congressional race is a toss-up in the red-to-blue race. “I’ll work to ensure that every family has access to affordable health care, a high-quality education, reliable and safe child care for their kids, and good job opportunities,” Hale told The Americano when discussing her plans if she wins the race.
The Latina candidate has garnered support from EMILY’s List. “From the beginning, hard work and sacrifice have been at the heart of Hale’s story. She’s shown that working in the Indiana’s state legislature,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, told The Americano. “It’s those qualities that she’ll take to Washington to advocate for affordable health care and work as a champion for children and working families.”
Michelle De La Isla
Kansas has also never sent a Latina to Congress, but Michelle De La Isla is about to change that. The Puerto Rican grew up in extreme poverty and experienced homelessness. The fighter has survived domestic violence and cancer. She overcame these obstacles and attended college as a single mother. The Afro-Latina chose to raise her family in Kansas and moved to Topeka in 2005 after graduating from Wichita State University.
Her career as an educator and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity has helped her tap into the empathy we so desperately need in Congress. In 2017, De La Isla made history, becoming the first Latina elected as the Mayor of Topeka, Kansas. Now, she’s channeling her determined spirit into her campaign for Congress. Should she win, Kansas Congressional District 2 will flip from Republican to Democrat.
“Politics is about public service which is a way of helping lift the voices of those who are often unheard,” De La Isla told The Americano, adding that she aims to create a platform for everyone, including the nearly 61 million Latinos living in the US.
“Representation matters. People are inspired when they see themselves in their candidates. We have the opportunity right now to elect more people of color and more women than ever before,” De La Isla says. “Candidates should come from the communities they represent, our representatives need to understand the issues and concerns their constituents have.”
Gómez reflects a similar sentiment regarding why Latino representation in Congress is critical. “To make progress on the issues that matter to our community we need to be at the table speaking up and giving voice to the realities Latinx people are facing in this country,” she says.