By: Grìsell Ariana Rodrìguez, SEIU-UHW, Assistant Director
Politics have always been in my DNA. I started young having political conversations at home. Being a product of parents who escaped a civil war in Nícaragua, I was very self-aware of others’ living conditions. As an 11 year old girl, living in California, as a first generation immigrant, I remember so clearly how the year 1994 affected me. Why 1994? Because it was the year Proposition 187 ballot initiative was passed. The ballot initiative would bar federal funding or access to social services to any undocumented Latino or anyone that looked "suspiciously illegal.” It was widely believed that the political motivation behind the proposition was to intimidate the growing Latino population. When it passed, I was scared and fearful for my classmates, my family, friends and anyone who didn't look Caucasian.
Fast forward to 2016- I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in the Labor Movement. For the last 8 years, I’ve always worked behind the scenes on every election since 2008: turning out our members, building up volunteers, and organizing Get Out the Vote (GOTV) for the campaigns we worked on. In 2013, I had the opportunity to lead the first enrollment event in Southern California for the Affordable Care Act. It was 100% volunteer driven and we continued to enroll over 20,000 Californians over the next 2 years.
2016 started out like a regular election year, my job was to build up regional teams of leaders to participate in the primaries and the general election cycle. My other responsibility, as the Secretary Treasurer for the Latino Caucus, was to get out the vote. During the week, I spent all of October turning out members to phone banks in Los Angeles. Then I’d hop on a bus to Las Vegas, Nevada, in order to secure the Latino Vote for Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto (the 1st Latína US Senator).
The election season was exciting and come Election Day, Get Out the Vote (GOTV) day was seamless as ever in Nevada . On the bus back home, reality hit. As an organizer, I began to do the numbers and it hit me for a second that everything that was at stake might be compromised. Then I received a call from my 11 year old daughter, panicking and asking if we were going to be deported. In that moment, 1994 was happening all over again, but this time my daughter was the little girl. We all know what happened on November 9th. To be honest, I felt so sickened, just like the day my ex-husband walked out on me with 3 children.
The following day after the election, I vowed to do more, not just for me, but for all the children in Los Angeles County, who woke up in fear due to Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric. That’s why, when I became aware of the Assembly District Delegate Elections, I didn’t think twice about running. I had more than enough experience behind the scenes to be qualified. I wanted my district to be reflective of its constituents, with more representation by minority women. On January 7th, I was elected as an official delegate of the 36th District in California.
Grisell A Rodriguez is a social activist in the labor movement and has the privilege to build leadership teams across California that passionately engage in social justice movements. She is currently seeking a post-graduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She represents constituents of the 36th Assembly District in California, all the while, raising 3 independent, fearless thinkers, who know more about politics, than your average adult.