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Photo: Candace Valenzuela's Campaign/ DCCC
Photo: Candace Valenzuela's Campaign/ DCCC

DCCC roundtable highlights pivotal red to blue candidates in Texas

Democratic Candidates from across Texas spoke about their efforts to win the Latino vote within their communities

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Latino voters are critical to flipping several House seats in the state of Texas.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) held a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning to highlight the efforts made by four candidates seeking office come November.

DCCC chair Cheri Bustos began by acknowledging the first anniversary of the El Paso shooting.  “El Paso and many in the Latino community are still healing from these wounds and this act of terror. THe fact that this was directed at the Latino community is the reason why many of us running for office want to make sure our families are safe,” she said.

The Latino community is the reason why Texas has become ground zero for the 2020 elections, and it is the biggest battleground state in the nation.

Despite overwhelming presence, Coronavirus cases continue to spike in Texas, and it is hitting the Latino community especially hard.

Bustos presented the following candidates as those who are willing to fight for those lives: Sima Ladjevardian (TX-02), Sri Kulkarni (TX-22), Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23), and Candace Valenzuela (TX-24).

All four candidates were recently endorsed by former President Barack Obama on August 3, aiding the fight to flip Texas blue.

As they continue to build strong campaigns, what is important here is that the candidates know their districts have significant Latino populations, and the ability to expand diversity in Congress and the Texas house. 


 

Ladjevardian is an Iranian candidate, but mentioned she learned Spanish before learning English. When asked how she will connect to Latino voters, her response was instant. 

“All our communications are in Spanish,” she said. 

Like Kulkarni, Ladjevardian emphasized language and communication as integral to connecting to Latino voters. Holding roundtable discussions and “cafecitos” within communities are important for “making sure voters know what issues are,” Ladjevardian said.

And healthcare, each candidate said, is especially important now. It is, after all, one of the issues Latino voters hold most dear.

 “As a cancer survivor, I completely understand that.” Ladjevardian said.


 

Valenzuela echoed Ladjevardian’s emphasis on healthcare. She mentioned her experience with hardship brought-on by a preexisting condition and how marked-up prices made the situation even more difficult.

“These are experiences I’ve lived first hand. I’m going to use them to better represent the folks in Texas’ 24th district,” she said.

“When I win here, I'm going to make history as the first Black Latina ever elected to the United States Congress,” Valenzeuela continued.

She said she has been under attack by the likes of Donald Trump and his enablers all her life, but government programs kept her fed and nourished. Public school was also essential to her stability, mental health and growth.

But now with schools beginning to reopen, Valenzuela says she feels for families torn between that stability and a virus that has disproportionately affected the lives of Latinos.

As a mother with a son due to return to school in less than two weeks, Valenzuela had planned a campaign reliant on public school and child care, but the pandemic changed everything.

And it doesn’t stop there. Yes, she is en-rout to make history, but being a Black Latina means nothing to Valenzuela unless she can make a difference within her community. 

“After this campaign is over we’re going to have a community of folks that know how to advocate for themselves. Making sure that they are constantly a part of the process,” she said.

“We’re going to win in November,” Valenzuela continued. “The will of the community is here. They understand that their votes are now their lives.”

 

Kulkarni perhaps put the most emphasis on the power of voting, especially now as the nation is on the heels of reacting to George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police.

“We buried George Floyd in our district.” he said. “This year is a moment in your history.”

Kulkarni clarified this is not just because there were over 60,000 people out in the streets of Houston protesting for Black Lives Matter, but because on the other side, protestors were also met by opposition from the Klu Klux Klan and white supremacist leaders.

This is a pivotal moment in history and civil rights, and votes have the power to be louder than the chants for change.

 

Gina Ortiz Jones, a veteran, says it’s not just about knowing how the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting Latinos — it’s about acting on that knowledge.

“It’s about making real economic decisions to help,” Jones said.

The largest spike in unemployment has been seen within the Latino community. Jones highlighted the fact that no one is talking about this spike, and such an increase is not currently being projected within other demographics.

Jones also touched on going back to school in a state that is currently experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the nation.

“Unfortunately there are still many communities that don’t have adequate levels of testing. The federal government has had the opportunity to prepare so that kids can go to school,” Ortiz said.

“One in ten children call Texas home,” she continued, saying Texas doesn’t want to be the state to mess this up, particularly within rural areas that have not conducted as many tests.

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