My candidacy for alder of Madison's south side District 14 doesn't start with me, rather it starts with my family and my community. You see, growing up as a low-income, openly gay Latinx in Madison was tough. Not seeing anyone who looked like me or anyone who experienced life similar to me on national or local media made me feel as if I wasn't welcome at the decision-making table. That my ideas or thoughts could never be "good enough."

Instead of allowing these negative thoughts to fill my mind I knew early on that I wanted to make a difference. I knew that I wanted to fight for and advocate for folks who are deemed "different." It has been my strongest belief that everyone deserves a fair shot. That no one should be made to feel less than within a community that should be working to uplift one another. However, these values are not mine alone.

My commitment to my community and my determination to advocate for Madison's south side residents were instilled in me by my wonderful role models and mentors while growing up. They saw in me something that took me years to see within myself. My mother and grandmother gave me the wisdom to work hard and study to achieve my dreams. Having seen them persevere through life's challenges only fueled my desire to find new solutions to the problems struggling families like mine have been dealing with here in Madison for years: rising rent, rising cost of child care, rising cost of higher education, racial discrimination and the decline of livable wage jobs. Developing new and innovative ways to tackle these problems cannot happen without the input from those of us who are living or have lived this experience. I am a firm believer that we must claim our seat at the table or risk being put on the back burner.

I will forever be a product of the south Madison community and I am proud to be from one of the most diverse areas in the state of Wisconsin. Having been able to attend Madison public schools gave me the necessary foundation to ask the important questions and to dive deeper than the surface when trying to understand a problem. My teachers gave me the knowledge to innovate the way we come up with solutions and my faith guides me to stand up for those who have fallen on hard times. Having received my education at Midvale, Lincoln, Wright, and West, I was able to move forward and attend UW-Madison's Information Technology Academy and later seek a degree in political science and pre-law at UW-Milwaukee.

While a student at UWM, my peers elected me to represent them as a senator for the 2012-2013 academic year. Through my advocacy I was later appointed to serve the office of our vice chancellor as an adviser for LGBT issues on campus.

Furthermore, I was blessed with the opportunity to intern for Wisconsin state Rep. Jonathan Brostoff during his first campaign for office. Having gained insight to the larger political process I was able to see just how much a community can develop if we all advocated for each other. That is why upon my return to Madison, I was honored to be appointed to the Equal Opportunities Commission, where I work to ensure the rights of our neighbors are not infringed.

There is, however, more work to be done. We must elect new leaders who bring fresh and innovative ideas to the table. We need leaders who will fight to defend individuals who have fallen on tough times and we must work to bring everyone to the table so that all are equitably represented. I look forward to representing everyone living in the south Madison community, because I know that together we will progress Madison into the 21st century.

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