I'm the son of two Cuban refugees who are proud to have called Queens their home for decades.
After the struggles of discrimination due to their newcomer status and economic challenges thanks to Reagan-era union busting, my parents instilled in me the need to stand up for those who go unheard and to be proactive in politics.
Some of my earliest memories are helping my mother cast her ballot on the old lever machines and debating with my classmates about why we need Democrats in the White House.
Politics is at the heart of my family's journey and I've seen how bad policies can affect families.
Speaking Truth to Power
Later, during my college years, I had the opportunity to speak for the student body at Baruch College (CUNY) as the President of the undergraduate student government.
Constant meetings with college and CUNY administration afforded me chances to remind them that students were the most important aspect of the school and to make sure they were doing everything possible to provide for us.
I also began to directly advocate for causes larger than myself by working with other students and faculty to demand greater funding and more effective policies.
Like so many millenials, I found life after college difficult. Economic and health insecurity from unexpected job losses, balanced with an underlying desire to help others kept drawing me closer to the political world and public service.
I've been lucky to work on several campaigns for progressive candidates throughout NYC and have seen the realities of how organizing can be so difficult. Doors slammed in my face from voters too weary from daily life to care about an election pitch tells me we need to think differently.
I've come to learn that often the most effective aspect of leadership and activism is listening.
Listening goes beyond just hearing what people say and regurgitating it back. It means internalizing the message and building processes that allow for people to speak up.
Elected officials work for us. They must listen to us. As District Leader, I promise that I will work with all corners of our neighborhood to make sure our voices (even the quietest ones) are heard loud and clear.
Being a leader committed to democracy means being committed to hearing the opinions of everyone. Decisions are made by those who show up but that's too often a barrier for everyday people.
We have to find out what those who can't show up need. We have to determine what can be done so they make it next time. We sometimes have to go to them.