Monday Check-In

Today was a chill day for me–spent most of the day reflecting on the weekend and the stories of the voters I met at the doors.

Ending the night, I spent it with my campaign team, and very much excited about our plans for the coming weeks, which includes a number of activities for the doors, fundraisers, etc.

As of tonight, there are 70 days, 1 hour and 27 minutes left until the primary. 

I don’t have much else to write tonight except for a couple of things that I have been thinking about:

  1. Having the courage to speak up, in order to be heard–is a privilege. I don’t have the right to hold back because there are people who depend on me to speak up. If not me, than who?
  2. I must tell the fucking truth with love in my heart.

 

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When Lip Service Becomes The Enemy

March 26, 2016 1 comment
Today, one of my biggest learnings came from two powerful women, Carli and Daisy, both from Shakti Riimg_5378-2sing–who shared a panel on civil discourse at the Conversations with Democrats. Having spent most of the morning and afternoon knocking on doors and hearing heavy stories from voters in district 35, it was refreshing to hear them speak to what I believe is missing from this discourse: a sentiment of the heart. A re-imagining of a different world where it’s not about the outcome but about the process of building community.
Full disclosure: a couple people walked out, I’m sad to say.
So much for civil discourse.
But it is true. So many people in the community have been left out of timg_6299-2he process of democracy. Instead, we have created a society that spends energy on transactional relations to build political capital versus spending the time deepening relationships in order to transform an entire community. Honestly, all it has gotten us is surrounding ourselves with super engaged folks and demeaning those who are not engaged.
Today’s experience at the doors was incredibly heavy on my heart because as I reflect on the day, I realize that, I too, have contributed to the numbers game and the outcome. In many cases, I have not lead with my heart.
Which brings me to the doors, where today I met with voters–in what’s becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods in Las Cruces, just east of Solano. Of the countless doors I knocked on today, there are three stories I want to share that proves this idea of how civil discourse has excluded people from the democratic process and not because they didn’t care to participate. We just didn’t invite them.

Frank
A good friend of mine joined me on today’s canvass and we split up the turf so that she was hitting the odds while I got the evens, and vice versa. At one of my homes, no one answered so I walked across the street to where she was, talking to someone at the door.
It was Frank.
Frank served time over 10 years ago, and now is unable to find work because of the felony that lives on his record. Meanwhile, he has not only acquired his bachelors degree but has gone on to attain an additional three associates degrees, is married with children, one of which is graduating High School with honors. He must be doing something right!
He’s frustrated.
While attaining a higher education and raising a family and trying to get his life together, he has managed to find the time to advocate for himself–searching for avenues to reach the Governor for a pardon but to no avail. Hold up! Don’t go blaming Susana right away. There are quite a few Dems who haven’t been much help to Frank either.
He is a taxpayer, a voter–someone who has clearly redeemed himself, and yet we as a society have told him, “you’re not welcome.”
What are we doing to welcome the Frank’s of the world–to this table of civil discourse?

Jeneen
Jeneen is a United States Veteran, who served her time in the service and returned to Las Cruces to settle in the home she purchased over ten years ago.
After some Election Day back and forth at the door, she proceeded to inform me of her experiences as a woman at the VA. She mentioned that medical staff do not always treat her as the soldier she is but as the wife of a soldier. In fact, she was quick to point out that her whole career–including her life now in the civilian world, has continued. Regardless of how hard she works and how smart she is.

We definitely had something in common in this case, as I shared my own personal challenges. I mentioned to her that last week, during a Democratic event with my other two male opponents, it was the first time, I think ever–where I felt uneasy about the implicit biases against me as a woman who chose this career path. My opponents both shared photos of them and their families, as if this is what makes them more electable. Meanwhile my slides, illustrated the work that I do and plan to do as a legislator. It was fascinating to gain her perspective as a veteran, because although we have made strides to challenge the patriarchy and overcome obstacles, there is still so much of it embedded in our system, that it is hard to shake off.What are we doing to welcome Jeneen to this table of civil discourse?

Nemecio
Nemecio was tough. He was ready to have it out with me considering that one of my opponents in the democratic primary had just stopped by himself.
Nemecio is done with politics. For a man his age, who has seen everything, how could I blame him?
From inside the house, he sternly said, “hold on a minute,” as I heard him talk to his dogs to send them to the backyard.
Finally he comes out the front door, allows me to give him my shpeel, grabs my literature and says,
“You’re all the same. You may be one way now but you’ll change. They always change.”
He continued. At some moments, berating policy makers–offending me and my friend a few times with sexist remarks. It was the first time in this entire campaign that I felt small. I didn’t quite know how to respond.
There was a moment when my friend tried to intervene in order to get away from the situation. But I didn’t move. I just kept taking it.
Finally, I asked him,
“At what point in your life did you give up on the system? What happened to you that has lead you to lose all hope in all of this? “
At first I thought he didn’t understand the question, because I think I may have repeated it to him a couple of times. I also believe that he was caught off guard by the question. It seemed as if one had asked him that before.
In the calmest I’d seen him he said,
“I lost all faith in the early 90s when I was let go of a job I believed I earned and was good at it.
Ah!
After a couple minutes of him sharing more of this, he became different. His attitude changed completely. He was now opening my literature as he spoke, unfolding it and working on straightening the creases he had bent and folded over and over again with his hands out of frustration.
We said our goodbye’s and I thanked him for giving me a chance to speak to him and I truly believe I got his support. I don’t want to say that my visit redeemed his faith in the process, but it was clear that whatever damage he had, there was a fraction of a wound that was beginning to heal.
What aimg_6309-2re we doing to welcome Nemecio to the table of civil discourse?
Folks, it really is about leading with the heart.
I must lead with my heart.
This is my life’s work. I know it will take decades to even make a fraction of a difference but I will go the distance.
I have to.
Categories: Uncategorized

When You Think You’ve Heard Them All

Although today was supposed to be my day off, it turned out to be super busy and ultimately productive day, filled with learning. It wasn’t the meetings I attended this afternoon that taught me anything. It was the door-to-door I have been doing since January, that shined a light on how disconnected policy makers are from constituents and how far constituents feel from their lawmakers. 

As I was heading to a meeting at the county office, my phone rang from a local number I did not recognize. 

I was in such a rush that I considered not answering. But I quickly decided to pick up, “Hello?

Gentleman: “Is this the Rubio campaign?”

I hesitated for a sec (as it’s still hard to get used to hearing that)

“Yes, I am Angelica. Who is this?” 

Gentleman says, “I’m Edward. You left a flier on my door and I’m calling to find out about Election Day.” 

Me: “_______” 

Edward: “Hello?” 

Me: “Yes! Election Day is June 7 and early voting starts May 10. Are you planning to vote?” 

Edward: “I vote in every election! I’m going to vote for you!” 

Me: “_______” 

Edward: “Hello??” 

Me: “Sir, that’s awesome! I’m so happy to hear that. But you and I haven’t met and I’m running against two other Democrats. What made you decide to vote for me?” 

Edward: “Not one campaign has ever come to my door. You’re the first.” 

Me: *tears well up my eyes* “Thank you, sir. I really appreciate your support and your vote.” 

Folks. In this man’s 70+ years, a Democrat who has consistently voted in elections, has not once had a candidate or lawmaker visit his home to pay him a visit. 

Think about that. Never. 

Tomorrow I head out to another day of door knocking and it’s stories like these that motivate me. It’s stories like these that remind me time and time again on how critical one-to-one’s are. 

We don’t always have the answers. It’s the people behind the doors who do. 

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When You Question Your Right To Speak Truth

March 25, 2016 2 comments

So this is a pre/post blog post. It’s a fairly long post.

This is why:

Pre:

5:45pm

Tonight, I’m a attending a Progressive Voter Alliance meeting, something I’ve been doing most fourth Thursday’s of the month since relocating to Las Cruces nearly three years ago. It’s one of my favorite things to do because it is a gathering of a lot of people who think a lot like me. It is a group that has also been very supportive throughout my organizing work, folks who have evolved into allies for the Las Cruces Raise the Wage campaign, and/or employing volunteers for my candidate’s city council race in the fall, and even now, supporting my own candidacy for NM House District 35.

Although I’ll be among friends tonight, I’m going to spend my two minutes at PVA speaking to why I am the best candidate in the June 7th Democratic three-way primary contest. It’s nothing new, right? It’s politics. Even in primaries, we hear candidates share and speak to why they’re more qualified than their opponents all the time.

In fact, so far in this race, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard well meaning 12900981_10156696149975066_9159493965592782415_odemocrats say, “No worries about 35. With three good candidates like yourself in the race, we’re good no matter how it turns out.” 

Maybe that’s true in a strictly political sense. If we’re just talking about regaining the New Mexico House…

But if we’re talking about the wellbeing and future of the good people of District 35, I beg to differ. The fact is, there are some clear differences between me and my opponents–and now is the time to get real about them. For starters, I am the only organizer in this race. I am not driven by a single issue or position. Organizing is my life’s work. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose — but the heart of my work is the understanding that I will always be in the fight. That said, I am also the only candidate in the race with a proven track record of success when it comes to complex and contentious political fights such as raising the minimum wage in Las Cruces — a win which continues to benefit thousands of workers and families in our community to this day.  Finally — on top of being a badass politically savvy organizer — I am the only candidate in this race who is a woman.

Candidates always make distinctions about their opponents all the time.

Except that I’m not your “typical” candidate.

Listen, while it’s easy for me to write out what I am going to say and share some of my reflections with you, my challenge for tonight–to ask friends to choose a side, has lead me to feel some tension. This internalized racism/sexism rises from within, whispering to me to be “polite” and “don’t share how you really feel.”

And what I realize now, sitting down and writing this all out–right before I head out to Munson Center, is that all I have been doing today is questioning my right to speak truth.

Let me type that again. I am questioning my right to speak truth.

As uneasy as speaking my truth might be for me, imagine what it will do for those listening. My truth will probably make someone uncomfortable.

Probably a guy.

As I pack up my things and get ready to head out, I carry in my heart something a good friend told me this afternoon. “I must do every woman–a tower of women, those who carry me on their shoulders, especially my mother, the favor of speaking up. My mother raised me to be the Amazon I am and to fight battles. That’s how wonderful I am and it is how much I matter to her and this world.”

So here’s to another battle. Here is my opportunity to speak my truth…unapologetically.

Post:

11:30pm

So I’ve had a couple hours to let things settle down from this evening. Overall, I feel great. I was nervous, of course–typical feeling I get when I have to speak in front of a crowd. As the campaign goes on though, I know I will improve and I’m excited about that evolution.

Also, having knocked on doors before blogging, dinner and PVA, I feel like that really made the difference. You know? Pounding the pavement, introducing myself to new neighborhoods in the district, and talking to voters.

(Funny story: A guy at one of the door’s asked me if my dad played the trombone lol I guess Rubio’s are well known for their musical talents)

Listen, door to door democracy is what this whole thing is about.

OK, which brings me to tonight’s PVA.

I arrived and everyone was super cool, per usual. Right away I noticed that there was a really small crowd, nothing like the last couple months. Nonetheless, I say hello to folks and then head over to one of the the front rows, where I tend to sit most of the time. I begin to scan the room–mostly all familiar faces.

I wait a good forty-five minutes of hearing other speakers speak and share the things that they’re working on before I decide to go up and do my two minutes.

You can listen to those two minutes here

Now, despite the fact that I said, “um” a lot (which I’m working on haha) I realize now that I was at my best when I said, “on top of being a badass politically savvy organizer.” The person to point that out to me tonight was my right hand Campaign Manager/Putting Me In Check/Friend, who said, “that’s the part when I knew you were really feeling it from your heart.”

The funny thing is that when I break into myself, just like I did at that very moment, I have always thought that that was my lowest. Interesting, right? Not only was tonight a challenge of overcoming the internalized stuff and speaking truth, there’s also that self-critical stuff we carry too, right?

The audience was feeling it. Well, most of the audience.

Remember earlier in my pre when I wrote,

“My truth will probably also make someone uncomfortable…Probably a guy.”

Yeah. That happened.

An older white gentleman, who later stood up to speak, shared what he needed to share and then referenced my campaign and my “I am the only candidate in this race who is a woman.” Of all the things I said, it was that statement that provoked him to joke about our current governor, Susana Martinez, and then proceed to say what I heard was something like, “and look where that got us.”

I can’t remember what was going on with the rest of the room at that moment, but I couldn’t believe he said that. And I was relieved to know that I wasn’t alone.

It was obvious that some women were disappointed in his joke. But it was the men that I was mostly surprised by.

As I was leaving, a guy friend who attended and heard the remarks, texted me saying, “that was a bit harsh.”

Another guy who I spoke with outside said to me, “I regret not using my time to respond to that. I was really offended by his comment.”

Nonetheless, I left there understanding even more the importance of turning out my supporters and not wasting my time on those who are not. At least, for now.

One day at a time.
One door at a time.
One voter at a time.

And just as I did earlier, I’m packing up and heading to bed and will once again attempt to do all women, especially my mother, the favor of speaking up and speaking proud and to battle yet another day.

My mother raised me to be the Amazon I am and to fight battles. That’s how wonderful I am and it is how much I matter to her and this world.

Signing off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

New Post, New Phase.

March 22, 2016 2 comments

As many of you know, I have launched my campaign to run for the New Mexico Legislature.

But I’ll get back to that in a bit.

As of late, I have been thinking about and reflecting on The Rubio Dispatch and the impact it has made on my life. For those of you who don’t know, it really has.

When I left Los Angeles and returned to New Mexico six years ago, this blog eventually became my outlet. I was living in my tiny hometown of Lake Arthur, with my parents and my new dog–Lennon. At the time, I was feeling incredibly dissatisfied with my decision to come home–and more specifically, with the politics around me. I wasn’t really listening to anyone. Honestly, I would be hanging out at Farley’s in Roswell, for example, and as soon as I heard someone say something remotely conservative, I would tune them out instantly.

(Including my family)

Except for my nephew, Gerardo. Who thought up this brilliant idea for me to start this blog. It was a Sunday morning and we had just come home from having breakfast with the rest of the family, and of course, I was super moody because someone must have said something that pissed me off. So Gerardo says, “why don’t you just write about it?”

Ok, for a Junior at Lake Arthur High School–he was a real prophetic kid.

And that is how this journey began.

So it should not be any surprise that the decision to run and the experiences I have had thus far in my professional career, is what has fueled my desire to get back to my roots and resurrect this blog.

(No pun intended i.e. Holy Week)

The reason I have decided to bring back the Rubio Dispatch is because as a writer, I must keep writing during the long hours of this campaign. Secondly, The Dispatch deserves to stay alive because, for someone who didn’t realize she was a writer, the blog created a space for me to write and to share my thoughts publicly, one of the scariest things ever! Third, for a political junkie living in SE New Mexico, my blog provided me with a platform for being the so-called “progressive” in the region, and also helped me to expand my thoughts beyond politics and more on issues and values. Finally, The Dispatch gave me amazing opportunities to meet and interview leaders like Senator Tom Udall and one of my shero’s, Elizabeth Warren (Which, by the way, I met at Netroots Nation in 2013 after winning a full scholarship after mobilizing a gazillion people from my Twitter network)

I must keep The Dispatch in tact because it has lead me to this very moment–to share my story of what it is like to be a woman of color, from rural New Mexico, who has worked tirelessly on the ground as an organizer and now taking a leap of faith into public policy–by running for a seat in the state’s legislature.

Many have come before me, I know. But there is still something to be said with the number of women who are still not yet a part of the leadership in Santa Fe. Although women have joined the ranks of legislatures throughout the country, quintupling in numbers since 1971, only 27% of the Legislature in New Mexico is made up of women, and a fraction of that are women of color. According to the US Census, women make up 51% of the state of New Mexico, and although I’m unclear at this moment (and if anyone can help me with that data) as to the percentage of women who are of color, I gather that there are quite a few of us.

My point is–the decision to run for office was not an easy one. In fact, it is something that I pondered for months. But it took women like me, who count on me–who have helped and supported me throughout my life, who gave me every reason to run.

It was close male friends in my network who encouraged me to run because they get how important it is to have my perspective at the table. It was my four sisters and brother, who fear watching their younger sister be treated poorly through this process–politicizing issues that I care about, and yet understanding that it is worth the sacrifice in order to give a voice to the many. Finally, it is my Mexican parents, who having only attained a third grade education, and received a Ph.D. in life, looking at me today, only to say, “pos bueno” and signing a cross from my head to my heart.

So far my experience during this election season has been surprisingly joyful and encouraging, with so many people being super supportive. I know it’s just the beginning. but for the next 76 days, I will document each day…even if just to say, “it was awesome” because I know you share this walk along with me.

So, thank you for joining me on this ride! Even if you’re not into politics…this is a documentation of something incredibly special and I know that is something we can all agree on.

Categories: Uncategorized

Just Sayin’ Blog Post. I Write Periodically.

It’s a rainy, Sunday, afternoon here in Las Cruces, New Mexico. What better motivation than to have the rain pounding on my roof to get my brain working, right? I could certainly be napping, but then again…I’ve been doing a lot of that the last couple of days. With a three day weekend coming to a close, sleep is probably the last thing I should be doing right now. (but it has been awesome!) Just ask my dog, Lennon. He’s been staring at me the last hour, his eyes and ears motioning for me to get up and take him out for his walk.

I’m here to apologize (once again) to my dear readers out there. It’s been more than six months since my last blog post.  (that also sounded like a confession)

No. I have not been sleeping this entire time. 

Full disclosure, I’m currently running the Las Cruces minimum wage campaign. So, the silence has not been for the heck of it. I’ve actually been kinda busy.

I honestly have nothing to write about. There is a lot to say and there are a lot of things happening that deserve some attention. But right now, I’m just spending most of my time thinking about stuff and what’s next. 

I cannot say I’ve lost all hope in humanity. But we’re getting pretty damn close.

I gotta say, though. What gives me hope are the countless people, in Las Cruces for example, who come in each and every day and share their stories about this minimum wage campaign so far, and how they’re changing people’s lives, one person at a time. I’m also hearing folks ask, “what ‘s next? When we win in November, what will be the next battle?”

People are excited. We’re building community. No candidate could create this energy.  This is organizing.  

There are things happening at the local level, that as an organizer, keeps me grounded for the next fight. Although I’d like to keep my eyes and ears open for what is happening across the globe, there are battles that need to be won here at home that have the potential to contribute universally. So for all of you out there fighting the good fight. Stick to what you know and know that what you’re doing at the local level, certainly paves the way for some real and awesome transformation. Because that is where we win. That is where our communities win. That is how we really change the world. 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

New Mexico’s Congressional District 2: Who Said We Didn’t Matter?

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Lots has happened since my last blog post this past summer.  First and foremost, I’m sorry to all my readers who have desperately waited for a timely post from me.  My apologies.  It would be easy for me to just say that there was nothing to write about.  But that’s not true at all.  In fact, there was a ton of stuff to write about.  I just couldn’t find the time to sit down and write.  But that will all change.  I promise.

Regarding my last post, we have yet to see the passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which I wrote about earlier this year.  My last piece regarded an action organized by the Alliance for Peace and Justice in Roswell, right outside the office of our representative, Congressman Steve Pearce (R).  Sadly, Mr. Pearce continues to be a disappointment.  Not only did he recommend that those affected by the government shutdown go out and get a loan from the bank to make it through the shutdown, he spent most of the summer and early fall advocating for inhumane alternatives directly affecting 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.  Which pretty much calls for a second class citizenry, which I countered in an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal. I wish I could say he was the only radical conservative offering up some awful policies, but he wasn’t.  Other conservatives in Congress join Representative Pearce in these same efforts.

Despite this lack of leadership from our Congressman, many see the immigration issue not yet dead (depending on who you talk to) In fact, some advocates still see the possibility for immigration reform, even if piecemeal — which many predict for 2014.  This may be possible considering that next year is a big year in politics, as members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are up for reelection and support of good policy helps garner votes. Also, there is President Obama who desperately needs a win.

My immigration post also coincided with my decision to move to Las Cruces — a move that was a welcome relief to friends and colleagues on the west side of congressional district 2. Despite what some may think, my hometown of southeastern New Mexico is not a lost cause for progressives like myself (I will be back). But with a burgeoning democratic base in the southwest, I can’t help but be excited about playing a role in a movement to transform this part of New Mexico. Our progressive homies north of I-40 should be paying close attention and take notes. When people think “New Mexico Politics,” Albuquerque and Santa Fe should not have the final word.

Despite being under resourced and underserved, CD2 shall not be ignored.  In fact, it is ground zero for real change.  This region has the potential to redefine politics in our state for years to come.  It can also be a model for other states across the country, facing some of the same political and social challenges our region faces each and every day. We’re a rural, conservative region — separated by miles and miles of open space.  Door hangers, social media and emails don’t win over the masses.  It has to be much more holistic than that.

The secret is simple.  It’s about building long lasting relationships.  It’s about connecting with families and individuals about common values. It’s about community organizing.

When President Obama came into the spotlight and talked about his work as a community organizer in south Chicago, those on the right found this work absurd. There was that moment during Sarah Palin’s speech during the 2008 Republican National Convention when she laughed at the whole concept. Winking her eye at those of us watching.  She laughed because like her colleagues on the right, they don’t understand this committment to organizing as being a tool for social justice and progress because this isn’t what its about for them.  Engaging their community in discussions on making things better is the absolute opposite of what they want.

Think about it.  Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting at a kitchen table, strategizing with close friends on how to make the world a better place to live for everyone? Him and his crew never sat around conducting a power analysis to demonstrate “people power.” They did power analysis to demonstrate how to take that people power away!

That’s the difference between us and them.

You transform the makeup of the political spectrum when you engage communities in conversations about real issues that affect our towns and villages.  You build on issues that directly affect each and every one of us and overtime you see real change.  Why? Because I whole-heartedly believe that our progressive values are values people believe in across the board.  It’s just a matter of engaging our community in these one-on-one conversations and to act on them.

We win elections when we sit down and learn from each other, developing strategies around the ideas that come from those we directly serve.  We develop leaders from our communities to bring forth change. We create opportunities for real change.

Will all this win elections tomorrow? No.

But overtime we transform ideas to greatly improve our communities.  That is the goal.

This is the game progressives should play because it comes naturally.  We are inclusive of everyone.

We are on the right side of history.  

This I know.

But being an organizer is not easy.  In fact, it’s one of the hardest jobs you can ever have.  But the effects of organizing are long lasting, if we take the time to invest in it.

We win elections when our community stands behind us. When we demonstrate true leadership and hone in on what the overall consitutency needs and wants.  Not what the few benefit from.

When we take on this philosophy, at all levels of leadership, we provide an outlet for our community to have real power.  We do this and we will never have to worry about losing another election that stands for progressive values.

It’s important that I write all of this because we’re at a crucial juncture here in New Mexico.  We rank last on all the good stuff and first on all the bad.  Sure, it’s fun to see the other side implode, but what does that do for our community? I find it shameful when I attend these democratic/republican events and people are excited to see the other side looking foolish. What does that do for our neigbor who can’t find work?

Politicizing issues that are important to our communities do nothing but sustain a status quo.  At what point do we say enough is enough?

My work in CD2 is crucial.  I know I’m not the only one who believes this.

To be continued.