Statement from Sayu Bhojwani
The New American Leaders Project
Tuesday’s election results hit us at our very core. The New American Leaders Project’s fundamental values –inclusiveness, authenticity, and a respect for community – are under attack. But while we are down, we are not out.
Expect more from us. Expect us to keep fighting for a more inclusive democracy.
For the past five years, we have trained and inspired immigrant leaders to run for office. Our trainees have been changing the face of American politics, one seat at a time. This year was no different. They are a beacon of hope for a diverse democracy.
Alumni of our training program, who are Asian Pacific Islander, Latino and Arab American won in races around the nation:
Statewide and City Races
In Arizona, Athena Salman, Isela Blanc and Tony Navarette won seats in the Arizona State Legislature. Ryan Winkle won a seat on Mesa’s City Council. Arizona also saw notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio lose his race after years of demonizing and targeting the Latino community in the state. His defeat is a credit to our partner organizations in the state and the hard work of many of our alumni.
In New York, Marisol Alcantara won her race and will be the state’s first and only Latina state senator. Michigan alumna Stephanie Chang won her re-election to the Michigan House by a whopping 93 percent of the votes. Lan Diep won his race in the nation’s sixth largest city and will join San Jose’s City Council.
School and Community College Boards
Our alumna also made huge strides in Southern California. Several won School Board seats - which are often an entry point to political participation for immigrants. Our winners include Elizabeth Gonzalez, Centralia Elementary School District Board Area 3; Paulo Magcalas, Anaheim School Board; Walter Muneton, Garden Grove Unified School District; Terri Rocco, Garden Grove Unified School District; Jackie Rodarte, North Orange County Community College District; Rigoberto Rodriguez, Santa Ana School Board and Jeanette Vazquez, Fullerton School Board. In addition, in Arizona, Ylenia Aguilar won her race for Osborne School District Board.
We’re especially proud that many of the NALP alumna who won are women of color as our research has shown they face steeper odds. They join women who made historic strides on the national level. Specifically, three progressive women of color were elected to the U.S. Senate, including California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Nevada attorney Catherine Cortez Masto and Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. Senator-elect Harris will be the only Black woman and first of Indian descent in the Senate, and Senator-elect Masto will be the first and only Latina ever elected to the Senate in U.S. history.
We celebrate these achievements, and we’re refueling for many more. November 8 was never meant to be a finish line, and we will certainly not treat it as such. We will not let our country be taken from us. We will not be intimidated. Together, we will overcome fear and fight to win.