Photo: A Number of Young Latinos Running for State Office Positions in Colorado
A group of young Colorado Hispanics in this year’s elections will seek to win seats in the state legislature, thereby transforming the demographic growth of the Latino community into political power on the state level.
The Latino politicos, all Democrats and most of them under 30, have launched their respective campaigns jointly.
“We’re a group ... And we hope that upon presenting ourselves all together and simultaneously in the political arena everyone will accept us also,” Dominick Moreno, a 28-year-old councilman in Commerce City, told Efe.
Moreno said that when he was elected as a councilman four years ago, becoming Colorado’s youngest officeholder, he was still “rather naive” about the way government works and at that time lacked the ability to form alliances to obtain support for his initiatives.
But now, four years later, Moreno feels that he and colleagues like Jessie Ulibarri and Chris Lopez Ramirez have developed “enough relationships to be able to have our proposals approved and to bring our experience at the local level to the state level.”
Moreno said that veteran Hispanic lawmakers helped him and the other young politicos to “stop being our own worst critics” and to be ready to assume responsibilities at a higher level than where they currently serve.
“Decisions about creation of jobs, economic development and educational reform are made at the state level. So, that’s where we want to be. But we’re people from the neighborhood. We grew up there and live there. Therefore, we want to create businesses and foster the wellbeing of our own people,” Moreno said.
In fact, he said, experiencing in person the “unequal system in Colorado that makes beautiful families lack the basic necessities” motivated him to launch his candidacy for councilman four years ago and now to run for the state House of Representatives.
“It sincerely pleases me that Dominick could work for me during my first session in the Colorado legislature. He’s an intelligent person who helped me a lot,” commented incumbent state legislator Crisanta Duran.
Currently, just eight of the 101 members of the Colorado state legislature are Hispanics, despite the fact that 20 percent of the state’s 5.1 million residents are Latinos.
Ulibarri, who also lives in Commerce City, agreed with Moreno that the state “needs politicians who are able to create an economy that benefits everyone in Colorado.”
The 30-year-old recalled that he had to work three jobs to pay his tuition as a full-time student at the University of Colorado.
“People who work hard should be respected. When I get to the legislature, I’ll try to avoid new cuts in the educational budget. My experience paying for my university studies is a lesson that has marked me for the rest of my life,” said Ulibarri, a member of the Colorado Democratic Party’s governing body, or Central Committee, and founder of the Colorado Latino Forum.