It is true that in the United States of today, many people have been conditioned to believe the fallacies trafficked, without remorse and with a certain ease, by politicians. Yet, it is seldom that we are urged to appreciate the words of those who passionately tackle those forked-tongued politicians. These are the people who embrace politics not for personal gain but out of the necessity of a community.
With her bid for Congress, Nicole Lopez is doing just that.
Lopez, 27, is reminding people, especially California’s 40th congressional district, that they deserve to be cared for and that no one should be left behind. And she’s doing it, as her slogan says, “all in and without fear.”
Lopez, a Latina of Mexican descent, was born and raised in California, and her family, including her extended family, have lived in the district since the 70s.
“My grandmother still lives there in the same house that she raised my dad in,” Lopez tells BELatina News.
“And my family has a small business in this district that’s been around for 30 years,” she said.
Her slogan is a sentiment that resonates with the Latinx youth of the United States and their hunger for change. This is something to take into account, considering that over half of the nation’s Latinx population is 35 years old or younger. If power lies in numbers, then the impact is bound to be grand. If elected, she’d be the youngest woman elected to Congress from California.
Before the launch of her campaign, she spent her time working to gain the experience needed to effectively be a voice for the people.
Her work as an organizer and advocate on Capitol Hill left her determination to do so in no doubt.
During her time there, she fought to secure more resources for Puerto Rico after the devastating Hurricane Maria. She also worked to overturn the Trump Muslim ban while also advocating to establish the Smithsonian American Latino Museum.
When one’s own experience is the first tool
The fearless and aspiring Congresswoman now works with women across the country to make sure that they have the resources they need to vote in every election.
Her decision to launch her campaign crystallized during the height of the pandemic. She saw her community falling through the cracks of an inequitable system. Even her immediate family suffered the uncertainties; the disadvantages faced by those historically excluded touched Lopez directly when her family’s small business was in danger of closing.
Lopez’s family business, founded by her Abuelito, is a bus business that takes folks up and down the California coast.
Her household benefited from her understanding of the system and the connections she had cultivated during her time on Capitol Hill. However, she worried for other community members who did not have someone such as her at their disposal — a situation that could’ve been resolved by having support from their elected officials.
“An elected official should be the person that you can call up and ask for resources, for asking your questions about, ‘how do I ensure that my kids are receiving the best education possible while they’re sitting at home?,’ ‘How can I ensure that my small business is not going to go under?’ or ‘what loans are available to me?’,” she told BELatina in an exclusive interview.
“And I feel that there was a lack of connection there between the federal government and the communities that they are supposed to be serving,” she added.
This further underscored to her the inefficiency of the officials tasked with the well-being of the constituents of CA-40.
Lopez pointed to the lack of change in her district and how this directly impacted health care, small businesses, and education. This stagnation made the latter a top priority in her race.
Keeping the teachings of the ancestors alive
The beat of her campaign thumps to the rhythm of the teachings her grandfather instilled in her long ago.
Her grandfather, or Abuelito, a man that left everything in Michoacan, Mexico, for a better opportunity, believed in being present in the community and he passed this sentiment down to her.
A recent encounter at their family business is but one example.
A customer who had visited the local for years reminisced of the time when her Abuelito gave him a free pass to Washington State for a seasonal job working in the fruit fields. At the time, the gentleman didn’t have enough funds to purchase a bus ticket but was treated by the kindness of someone who was a stranger to him then.
Lopez, with obvious pride, said that her grandfather told the gentleman that the trip was on him.
“That little act of kindness gave him [the gentleman] the opportunity to provide for his family,” she added. “That is what my community is about.”
“It’s about us doing these small favors for each other because we get it,” she said.
And she definitely gets it.
“Con Ganas y Sin Miedo”
Using her Abuelito’s sparkle as her North Star, Nicole Lopez is preparing to build a race where everyone feels welcomed.
“I want everyone in my community, no matter their background or age, to have a chance to be heard and be accurately represented by their elected officials,” she said.
Classism and elitism are weaved into the foundation of our government, and it is intimidating and often shuns away a great number of its constituents.
“I want folks to feel like they are being invited into the process, that it’s transparent, and that they feel like they can make a difference within their own communities as well,” she told us.
“I want them to know that the democratic process is something that they can be a part of,” she said.
If ‘Of the People, By the People, For the People’ is the American way, then it’s been deviated for too long. Thankfully, the new batch of politicians, political advocates, and organizers of this generation, including Nicole Lopez, are constructing bridges to fill the gaps created by privilege, with an unrelenting tenacity reminiscent of a focused lionesses’ on its hunting hour.
“I know that I can do more for my community by serving in Congress, and that’s why I’m going to do so,” she said.
Lopez’s campaign will be grassroots-led. It’s going to be focused on engaging with everyday people from the community and ensuring that anyone and everyone who wants to participate in the campaign can.
The arterial system of her family has always been centered around community, and now she wants to include everyone else in it by working for them.
“For me, this is my home. The district is a part of me.”
Best of all, she’s going full force to obtain this objective — Con Ganas y Sin Miedo.
If you are wondering what you can do to help her ascend in her race, donating a few dollars here and there, volunteering, and sharing her resources on your social media are some of the ways you can support her.