TURNOUT: Lucy Flores Fights to Solve Issues Affecting Hard-Working Families
Latin Post presents "Turnout," a series featuring leading politicians, government leaders and advocacy groups discussing and debating the most important issues facing the Latino voting bloc.
Lucy Flores, candidate for Nevada's 4th Congressional District, is helping to tackle the issues affecting many hard-working families.
The Latino Vote
According to Flores, the media, generally, tries to condense the Latino electorate into one small demographic that only believes and supports certain issues like immigration.
"Immigration is an important topic for this community but it's not the only topic and it's certainly not the most important one. There's a lot of important issues, whether it's the economy, jobs, education, etc., all of the issues that are important to hard-working families are important to the Latino community," said Flores, who described the electorate as "very diverse."
In regards to the congressional district she's campaigning to represent, "This district is incredibly diverse. It's actually a little snapshot of what Nevada is." Flores acknowledged the 4th Congressional District's constituents range from rural Nevada and urban cities, with Latinos, African Americans and small Asian populations making up the bulk of the minority-majority population.
Flores told Latin Post she initially had no intention of running for political office -- given her history.
She began her political involvement in college, working on the issue of wrongful convictions. It was then she encountered a few life scenarios: she could work to become a lawyer in order to work within the system or become an elected official or an advocate to still fix the system that she viewed as broken. Flores would continue to work on wrongful convictions, eventually graduated law school and was elected to public office in the same year.
"It was just about seeing that things weren't right for so many people and feeling like you can do something about it and frankly just believing in yourself that this is something you can do," Flores said. "When I first decided to run for office, I was very scared; I didn't think anybody would vote for a former juvenile gang member, ex-parolee, high school dropout but I was very honest about my challenges and also my opportunities and the ways I was able to break that cycle of poverty and do something better for myself and for my family and for my community."
"I still continue seeing any of my campaigns as a way to making a difference, to continue demonstrating, especially to our Latino community that yes, sometimes things are difficult and yes, sometimes there's lots of roadblocks but if you keep at it, if you stay focused, if you work hard, you can still make a difference and you can still improve your life and improve your family's lives. For me, that's really what its all about and why I continue to run."
Flores on the Issues
If elected, Flores said she wants to continue working on the issues she championed during her time as an assemblywoman for Nevada's 28th District. For Flores, it is important to not only work on "traditional" issues, such as economic development and job creation, but to also look at the issues other people are encountering on a daily basis. She said it is her track record that distinguishes her from fellow challengers seeking Nevada's 4th Congressional District, and as seen during her two terms in the Nevada Assembly, Flores does not want to just fight for issues but wants to see accomplishments.
"I think you have a lot of politicians out there who talk about what they believe in and what they fight for and all these other things, but I'm more interested about what they've actually done and how they're going to continue accomplish things," said Flores, adding that she focused on passing reforms such as changing testing methods for high school students, as Latinos and fellow students of color were previously disproportionately failing exams for various reasons.
Flores also championed the state's consumer protections bill, which addressed unauthorized practice of law, particularly its harmful affects on immigrant communities, senior citizens and low-income earners.
"I also worked on domestic violence; that's a very personal issue for me, I was a domestic violence victim, in a very abusive relationship in my early 20s," Flores said, noting Nevada led the country in domestic violence-related homicides and it's an issue not many people championed but it's an issue affecting many families.
Flores, and fellow Democratic Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, sponsored the "Safe Getaway Law," based on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which allows domestic violence victims to leave the abuser and break their tenant rental lease agreement without financial risks.
The Flores-Anderson bill also helped undocumented women.
"I fought very hard with Republicans who did not want this option in there, to allow undocumented women and other domestic violence victims, to be able to go to other people to report the violence, whether it was a pastor or a priest or a social worker or someone who is non-law enforcement, because often times we know that particularly with undocumented women, they are afraid to go to law enforcement," Flores said.
Supporting Sanders: What Latinos Should Know
Last month, Flores endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for president. The congressional candidate said the most important thing Latinos should know about Sanders is his vision for economic equality benefits Latinos the most. Flores acknowledged the wage disparities affecting women, but it gets worse when recognizing Latinas, who earn far less than every dollar a male earns. She said Sanders' policies and vision on balancing wages is the the reason why she decided to endorse him.
"I really do believe that he is working towards fundamental change of our system, of our political system, and of our economy and he wants to change it in a way that benefits everyday people," said Flores, later adding, "It's really Latinos that benefit the most under Bernie Sanders' policies."