Meet Wendy Carrillo, the 36-Year-Old Salvadoran Activist Running for Congress

Read more

A week after California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Congressman Xavier Becerra as the state’s next attorney general, four people have already joined the race for the soon-to-be vacant House of Representatives seat. A special election to find his replacement will take place after Becerra assumes his new role on January 3. So far, John A. Pérez, Jimmy Gomez, Kenneth Mejia, and Wendy Carrillo have declared their intent to run for the position, which represents California’s Congressional District. Carrillo – currently the only woman running – has already made waves with her announcement.

In a Medium post, the 36-year-old Democrat born in El Salvador explained why she felt compelled to run. “We are living in a moment of urgency,” she wrote. “A moment in which our country is demanding new vision, leadership, and courage. It is obvious with the results of our recent presidential election that the same establishment ‘politics as usual’ don’t work anymore.”

Carrillo wants to represent those who woke up on November 9 – the day after the election – feeling “assaulted” by the nation’s decision to elect Donald Trump. Explaining that many people feel ignored by their representatives, she positions herself as the right person to fight for the general public’s interests. After protesting in Standing Rock from October to December, Carrillo couldn’t help but wonder why politicians hadn’t spoken out – even as people inhaled toxic fumes and weathered sub-freezing temperatures.

“These questions made me realize the dire need of new leadership to move our country forward,” she wrote. “Unapologetically progressive, 100 percent for the people. I realized it was time for me to stand up. Stand up for Standing Rock, stand up for our country.”

The activist – who became a citizen at age 21 – rejects Trump’s stereotypical views of inner-cities, which he called hells on multiple occasions. Growing up in Boyle Heights, she has a more accurate idea of what inner-cities represent. “We thrive, we live, and we are resilient against all odds,” she added. “We find incredible challenges and find resourceful ways to move forward. We are not criminals or rapists or terrorists or people that don’t have a voice. We are the future of this country and we are taking our rightful place in it.”

Her entire post is a rousing plea centered around communities. Check out the full letter here.