Nilda Ruiz, not the only Latina at Tom Wolf’s table
As the Transition Steering Committee for Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf is getting ready to meet this week, we talked to Nilda Ruiz, President of APM and member of the committee.
What do you expect to contribute as the only Latina in this committee?
I always say that we need to have more Latinos at the table, so obviously, being at the table, I expect to be able to get folks to look at the Latino issues. I’m not sure what I’m going to be asked for but I hope that’s the perspective that I’m going to be bringing to the team.
I may be the only Latina in the Transition Steering Committee but I am not the only Latina in Wolf’s team. When he found out that Pennsylvania had a huge deficit and that it had maxed out its borrowing power, he put up a Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force with high powered finance people to come up with a solution. One of them is Ida Castro. I have a feeling that we are not the only Latinos that he’s reaching out to.
What are some of these “Latino issues” you are hoping to bring attention to?
Pennsylvania has grown significantly due to Latinos. The immigration issue is always first and foremost but that’s more of a national issue. All the issues that are important to Americans are also important to Latinos in America, but we have the highest rate of school dropouts, so education is really important. I would like to heighten the Latino issues but we have to look at what’s good for all of Pennsylvania.
What does being part of this committee represent for you?
I am very flattered that I was asked to be part of this team and I was also surprised. It tells me that our work is being recognized because APM has grown to be one of the largest non-profits in all of Pennsylvania, and we have been very effective in using private and public dollars and in transforming this community. As a Latina it also tells me that (Wolf) is looking at the Latino community and not leaving us out.
Have you considered recommending any Latinos for his administration or do you have any tips for Latinos who want to be a part of it?
Wolf has a website for his transition team and he is asking people to apply, so I’m hoping that Latinos will step up and will go to that site if they are interested. I’ve asked folks in my circle that if they’re interested in cabinet positions to let me know. I don’t know how much pull will I have with that, but at least I will know if they are interested and I can point that out to the governor elect.
What does the transition from Corbett to Wolf represent for Latinos?
I know that a lot of us took offense by Corbett saying that he couldn't find any qualified Latinos, because it obviously shows that he is not reaching out and not looking. There are so many very competent Latinos in the state that are making huge drives and doing really good work. I can close my eyes and come up with 20 right away and that’s only in my circle. Not in the whole state of Pennsylvania.
Wolf has made a couple trips here to get to know us. He is putting people in the different transition teams, on different task forces, so that makes me really hopeful that he is listening because we are a growing force and every day we have thousands of kids that are turning 18 years of age. We are growing exponentially and in two or three terms I don’t think anybody will be able to become governor of Pennsylvania without going to the Latino line.