Staten Island is a district that is historically right-winged and conservative. Now, someone wants to change that, someone who wants to make history: Brittany Ramos DeBarros, a 32-year-old Afro-Latina veteran and activist seeking to win Congress as Democrat.
Ramos DeBarros, whose life-long goal has been to create change, someone who is widely considered an activist, told Yahoo News that she “ learned in the military and so many different contexts of leadership what it means to really lead with heart and in a way that is about serving people and not about you or your ego.”
Originally from Texas, Ramos Debarros has worked with the Poor People’s Campaign and the About Face: Veterans Against the War. Now running for Congress, she would represent New York’s 11th Congressional District, otherwise known as Staten Island and several parts of Southern Brooklyn.
Ramos DeBarros’ parents are white and Black Puerto Rican. Part of her goal for running is that people in the community can feel genuinely represented in politics.
Ramos DeBarros told Teen Vogue that her campaign will draw on her experiences working for non-profit organizations. Despite those “progressive credentials,” she says she’s less interested in representing a specific party than in combating all the ways that powerful systems like the military and Wall Street work together to keep regular Americans down. Ramos DeBarros says she’ll refuse corporate donations; borrowing from the campaign slogan of iconic Black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, she pledges that her campaign will be “unbought, unbossed, and unafraid.” Her platform is built upon policies that prioritize “care, not criminalization,” health care as a human right, and equitable and quality public education.
If she wins, Ramos DeBarros will run against GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the freshman congresswoman of the district who voted against former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment. She’s been heavily supported by Trump’s followers by her false claims of the November election results. Though Malliotakis has not announced her run for 2022, and after being backed by Trump in 2020, most observers believe she will run again.
During Trump’s campaign in November, he was highly favored in Staten Island, gaining more than 120,000 votes, which is more than 57 percent, and a 33 percent increase from when he ran in 2016. Malliotakis’s incumbent was Max Rose, who she successfully beat out during the election.
Malliotakis won 56 percent of the vote and beat Rose by almost 18,000 votes. She was able to win the district because of her conservative viewpoints, becoming the only Republican in Congress that represents New York City.
Ramos DeBarros, on the other hand, plans on winning the Republican vote not by flipping them but by speaking to their interest and the worries voters have.
“Our strategy is about loving and organizing and energizing tens and hundreds of thousands of voters — working-class, voters of color, and people who have been forgotten and left behind by the system — to have something to be excited about,” she said. “People are just waiting to be energized by a candidate who really speaks to them.”
DeBarros hopes to bring what people need for the community and to cater to all demographics.