SoCa Latino Policymakers Respond to Candidate’s Inflammatory Comments
As our Board President explained in his blog this month, our feature article for October focuses on what we’re calling the Trump Effect – the impact the millionaire presidential candidate has had not only on the national campaign but also in re-framing the national debate about immigration, and inevitably, about Latinos.
We’re focusing on Trump’s comments because they go beyond presidential campaign politics and party issues. They speak to a persistent theme in presidential campaigns – the scapegoat – this time around it’s us – again. How this will impact his campaign and the race itself is a dynamic we are all watching closely, as evidenced by the comments we are publishing.
Writer Bill Britt posed a series of questions to a broad cross section of Latino policymakers from this region. We reached out men, women, Democrats, Republicans, council members, school board members, community college trustees and even a couple of members of Congress. Not everyone responded but we are grateful to those who did.
Our panel (in alphabetical order):
- Luis Ayala, Mayor, City of Alhambra
- Sylvia Ballin, Vice-Mayor, City of San Fernando
- Miguel Canales, Mayor, City of Artesia
- Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias, Board Vice President, Santa Ana Unified SD
- Cristian Markovich, Mayor, City of Cudahy
- Michele Martinez, Council Member, City of Santa Ana
- Manuel Perez, Council Member, City of Coachella
- Linda T. Sanchez, U.S. Representative (CA-38)
- Tony Vazquez, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Santa Monica
- Aurora R. Villon, Ed.D., Board President, El Rancho Unified SD
Donald Trump is one of the most prominent newsmakers in the race for the White House. What impact has his campaign had on the Latino community?
Aurora Villon, Ed.D.
President, El Rancho Unified SD
He’s great for the working people who are making money selling Donald Trump piñatas. On a serious note, [he’s] done something that has never been done before. Through his racist messages he has captured the attentions of all Latinos as well as mainstream America. He is the ‘ugly’ American everyone wants to ignore but cannot stop listening to. Trump has done wonders in uniting Latinos. The thing Latinos don’t seem to realize is that what [he’s] saying is no different [from] what politicians have been doing throughout history – treating our people as second class citizens and a burden to society. The difference between other politicians and Trump is that Trump is dumb enough to say what he thinks while others are masters in hiding their true feelings and intentions.
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez
38th Congressional District
The Latino community is engaged and we are ready to make sure our voices are heard on Election Day. We’re tired of the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric coming out of the Republican Party. In Los Angeles, and in other cities across the country, you see Donald Trump piñatas selling out. Every young child who takes a whack at a Trump piñata is another future voter in a generation of Latino voters that the Republican Party has alienated, and potentially lost for life.
But, the challenge for the Latino community is to turn our numbers into real political influence. We have already seen a big push by many groups to increase Latino voter registration – especially by helping those eligible for citizenship to become U.S. citizens. Of the 8.8 million legal immigrants eligible to become citizens, about 5.4 million are Latino. I am on a personal vendetta to get every Latino I know fired up, registered to vote and ready to cast a ballot in every election. We can’t sit on the sidelines just hoping things will get better.
Mayor Pro Tem, City of Santa Monica
I think he’s going to have a positive effect, but not for himself. I’m hoping he’ll turn out the Latino vote for us like Governor Pete Wilson did for us here in California. Wilson was the champion of Proposition 187, which basically tried to take rights away from immigrants both documented and undocumented. It turned out the Latino vote in huge numbers, but not for him. I think Trump is headed in the same direction with his really ridiculous statements.
Mayor Pro Tem, City of Coachella
I look at this as an opportunity for Latinos to seize the moment. It’s time that the sleepy brown giant awakens. I think this will galvanize Latinos to educate themselves, register themselves, organize themselves, mobilize and eventually go out and vote and / or run for office.
Councilmember, City of Santa Ana
In many respects it’s creating a positive effect for getting the Latino community to come out to vote and voice their opinion on how someone like Trump can be so disrespectful towards Mexicans. I think people now are awake and observing and paying attention to politics.
Mayor, City of Alhambra
It’s sort of an awakening in a political sense to not get Trump elected, but it’s also creating an incentive for more political activism in the Latino community. He’s creating some good discussions as to what is important to us in a Presidential candidate.
Mayor, City of Artesia
What surprises me more than anything is the hatefulness. [He] keeps saying he’s not politically correct. No he’s not, but he’s just not nice. He’s a jerk. He’s being a bully in a society where we’re trying to teach our kids not to be bullies. You don’t have to be politically correct, but be kind. I guarantee you the words he’s using won’t be forgotten. Once people are motivated, they do show up for elections.
Mayor Pro Tem, City of San Fernando
He is uniting our community. We will not empower/elect an egotistical, prejudiced, self-absorbed man who clearly lacks education on the importance of holding the office of President. He is divisive, verbally abusive, and clearly too comfortable attacking women. He does not understand one of the most important words in the Latino community, ‘respect.’ The majority of the Latino community I’ve spoken to consider him a loser and loose cannon capable of launching World War III because of his lack of knowledge of the real important issues and diplomacy. I want to see his birth certificate. Is he really a citizen?
Mayor, City of Cudahy
Donald Trump’s campaign I believe has really mobilized the Latino community on both sides of the aisle. The vitriol he spouts offers no substance or solutions to the issues that this country faces nor does he make an effort to have a civilized conversation with well- respected members of the Latino community. So much so that ‘Donald Trump’ has become a personal insult that some use.
Cecilia “Ceci” Iglesias
Board Vice President, Santa Ana Unified SD
Donald trump is energizing Latinos to become citizens and register to vote. He is also making the uninformed voter resent the Republican Party.
What must any Presidential candidate do to win the Latino vote?
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez
I have said for a long time now – Latino voters care about more than just immigration. Immigration is an important issue to our community but we also care about jobs and economic opportunities, college affordability and vocational training, a clean environment, affordable health care, retirement security – things that all working Americans care about. Our community is looking for a Presidential candidate who respects us and lays out a vision to help hardworking families and grow the middle class. And I think there is a clear contrast in the message you hear coming from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
Cecelia “Ceci” Iglesias
In order to get the Latino vote a candidate needs to speak to the heart. [Their] tone has to be humble [and they should be] compassionate in their speech. Focus on the American Dream.
Dr. Aurora Villon
Have big ears, a tender heart, and a humble spirit: Big ears to listen to the many issues impacting and marginalizing Latinos. Politicians claim to understand the Latino community but how can they understand us when we only become visible when they want our vote? A tender heart to understand the hardships our people have endured and are still enduring. We are a proud people who have migrated to this country to give our best and not to take away from anyone. The economy of this country would not survive without the Latino market and the Latino workforce. A humble spirit of servitude and compassion. How can a leader lead if he/she does not have an understanding of the people who have placed him/her in a leadership position? The same Latinos who carried flags and protested injustices in the 60’s and 70’s are now doctors, educators, businessmen/women, lawyers and still fighting for the same things that were important back then…equality, social justice, humane treatment, and the right to be treated with respect, dignity, and as equal citizens of this beautiful country.
Policy is critical, but when we think about policy and the Latino vote, we usually only discuss immigration policy. We also care about jobs, about making sure they can pay our bills, about manufacturing going away to other countries. And they need to have compassion. It’s not just about them. It’s not just about selfish power. It’s about empowering others. Those are pieces of an essential puzzle that needs to be considered. I’ve had to [remember that] a few times. Not as a Presidential candidate but in my own way.
I think Latinos across the country are realizing it’s not about being Republican or Democrat. This is a perfect opportunity for the Latino community to unite and not talk about partisan politics, but instead making sure that what we stand for, our values, our family, our work, that we find a candidate will to put that at the forefront and respect the Latino community with integrity. That’s the kind of candidate we’re looking for.
We all care about moving this country forward and creating opportunities for everyone. Just because we’re becoming a majority doesn’t mean that we care about issues that are different from anyone else’s. And because we tend to be at a lower income, we tend to be in college significantly less than the mainstream. I think a candidate would be successful by talking about those realities and paving a path that would create opportunities and policies that will get us there.
The Latino vote isn’t ‘won,’ it is earned.
Is there a Presidential candidate who best represents the interests of Latino voters?
I know the names that pop up are [Ted] Cruz and [Marco] Rubio because of their Latino surnames. Jeb Bush because he’s married to a Mexican American. But honestly I haven’t felt that there’s been a genuine effort yet from any one of these candidates. Of the Democrats, I’m leaning towards Bernie [Sanders] because I like the fact that he’s talking about [economic and social] inequities. Individuals usually don’t [talk about those issues] when they’re running for office. It’s tougher to speak to those truths. I love Hillary but she’s got a battle right now because of her email problems.
Among the Republicans? No. I don’t think there’s anyone that fits all the qualifications to lead us, based on my convictions. If I were to vote today, Hillary Clinton fits that bill, and to an extent, Bernie Sanders.
Dr. Aurora Villon
Republicans? Bush and Rubio. Democrats? None.
Cecelia “Ceci” Iglesias
Republicans: Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
We have the same values and interests as everyone else. I think Jeb Bush understands that. As does Bernie Saunders and Hillary Clinton. Those three, in my opinion, understand that the Latino issues are the American issues and the need to bring 55-million people into the fabric of America and not exclude them or label them. My ideal Presidential dream ticket would be Hillary Clinton and Bernie Saunders, but I love Jeb Bush! That’s my problem! I like all three equally. Now that I think more about it, I’ll go with Hillary and Elizabeth Warren. That’s never gonna happen!
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez
I think President Tom Perez and Vice President Linda Sánchez has a nice ring to it. In all seriousness, I would love to see the day when we have our first Latino or Latina President of the United States.