I’ve never missed a presidential election in 24 years of voting. However, I missed countless primaries and local elections. It never occurred to me that I gave up my voice, my civic duty, and ignored the most important elections affecting the schools my children attend, the parks in which my children play, and the community which helps raise them.
In the past, I felt I wasn’t doing enough. I felt a void in my career. As a public health professional, the core of what I do is to reduce health disparities and bring equity to communities that are underserved. I worked tirelessly serving a myriad of big causes, but despite these projects, I felt I wasn’t making an impact.
With the goal of developing and growing myself as a leader, I decided to go back to my roots and participate in a few Latina Leadership programs. Through these programs, I was able to network with other Latina leaders across California and work on issues at the state and federal level. I advocated for legislation and causes that included the Affordable Care Act, education, the Dream Act, Dreamers legislation, and DACA.
During this time, I began working on my first local cause–SB54, Sanctuary City in Culver City. It wasn’t until we passed Sanctuary City, did I finally feel I had made a real impact. It was a proud and surreal moment when I reported to a Univision interviewer, “Today, Culver City is a Sanctuary for everyone.”
This pivotal win, achieved at a local level and benefiting members of my own community, gave me a strong sense of belonging. It was the answer I was looking for, the impact my life needed, and it inspired me to want to do more, do more for Culver City–a city that nurtures diversity through language-immersion programs, a city that passed Safe Zones, and a city that passed Sanctuary City.
This was my “A-ha!” moment. Becoming involved at a local level, and within my own community, provided a profound link between my life and my profession. In an effort to expand my local involvement, I applied to the Parks, Recreation, and Community Service Commission (PRCS) and was extremely honored to be awarded the appointment.
My activities with PRCS gave me a new level of access to people and issues driving Culver City. I met the candidates running for 2018 city council and decided to support Daniel Lee. His platform aligned with my values of creating an inclusive community and giving voice to the underserved and those that live in fear and disenfranchisement.
I walked every street in my neighborhood. I participated in the Latino Outreach campaign. I convinced others to canvass with me. We all know how this story ended–He is the first African-American city council member elected in the 100 years of Culver City’s history. I am proud to have been part of his campaign and this historic event. I believe that Daniel Lee’s campaign energized voters that had not been involved in local elections, such as residents from Culver West and the monolingual Spanish speakers. I think this was a great accomplishment for his campaign and one of the strategies that secured his win.
How can you get involved in Culver City?
Vote at your next election! We can all be making our city, state, and our country a better place if we use our voice at the ballot. If you can’t vote then register someone else to vote. Remind friends and family to vote.
Volunteer in your city. You can apply for one of the 16 city commissions, boards, or committees. Applications are usually due in May and new appointments start in July. If you can’t apply, you can register to receive agendas and use your voice to provide public comment during meetings.
Today, I look at my beautiful children and know I’m working hard to make our city an inclusive one, where schools will protect all children, regardless of immigration status, where parks are safe for all, and where our neighbors will know the many kinds of faces living in Culver City.