These Latina Voters Are United Around Clinton, But The Reasons May Surprise You

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At a tamale shop in North Denver last Friday, Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner talked with a group of Latinas about the upcoming November election. These women have met regularly for decades, often here at Tamales by La Casita.

They call it a "cafecito," a chance to socialize over coffee and plates of New Mexican food. They also network, given the group's connections in health care, public relations, local school boards, politics and more. While not explicitly political or partisan, their group includes several women who are involved in local, state and national politics, including the woman who co-founded the group 25 years ago, Rosemary Rodriguez. She now works for Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Photo: Cafecito at Tamales by La Casita Latinas talking about the election 2016
A group of Latinas discuss the 2016 election with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner (standing) on July 1, 2016. Seated from left to right: Adrienne Norris, Virginia Ortiz, Yunuen Cisneros and Polly Baca.

When we asked the women to share their thoughts on the presidential election, most said they support presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That follows a general trend of Latino voters in Colorado, three quarters of whom voted for President Barack Obama in 2012, according to exit polls. But the group at La Casita also included several people who caucused for Sen. Bernie Sanders in March, and at least one one woman says she is a Republican but is not happy with presumptive nominee Donald Trump -- though she says she won't vote for Clinton, either.

Besides the candidate they'll back in November, most agreed that they often feel stereotyped by campaigns and candidates who want to win their support. When asked about their top issue in this election cycle, a few named immigration, an issue often tied to Latino voters. Others named education policy, gun laws, environmental and energy issues, and the economy.

Photo: Rosemary Rodriguez Cafecito election
Rosemary Rodriguez, who helped start the "cafecito" tradition 25 years ago.

Click the audio link for the full conversation, or read excerpts below. This conversation is part of CPR News' yearlong focus on the Latino electorate in Colorado, which included an interview with three conservatives when the Republican presidential candidates debated in Boulder last year.

Virginia Ortiz on her longtime interest in environmentalism:

"Culturally, we are people of the Earth and we honor Mother Earth… [Latinos] are typecast into aligning ourselves with one issue… but the truth is that we align ourselves with many issues the way the rest of the world does.”

Melissa Gonzales, a Republican, on why she may not vote in the presidential race for the first time in a long time:

"For the first time ever, I just don't like either choice. I would never vote for Trump because of what he stands for... and I am really torn more this year than ever before... I can't be swayed to vote for Hillary. So this year I'm kinda just, maybe going to step back."

Blanca Trejo on what she sees as increased interest among younger voters about this election:

“I think actually, for all that Trump is, I have to take off my hat and saludarlo, and kind of give him thanks for riling up these young people, because they have such an appetite and a motivation to actually get registered [to vote]... [And] I work with a lot of students who are unable to vote: are undocumented or are permanent residents that don't have citizenship, are not able to vote this year. But I cannot tell you how many times one of my students has posted on Facebook, ‘I can’t vote, so please vote for me; be my voice.’”

Leesly Leon, who recently became a citizen and will vote for the first time:

"I think that Mr. Trump probably needs to take a walk outside of 5th avenue and see what Latinos have done and still do in this country."


Read the transcript:

Warner: We have come to a restaurant, in North Denver, that specializes in tamales and New Mexican food. 

"Ground beef enchiladas. Onion?" "Of course." "All riiiight!"

We're not here to eat, but to give you food for thought in this election year. Because this restaurant -- Tamales by La Casita -- is hosting a group of politically-active Latinas. They gather weekly -- in the morning -- for a "cafecito" -- a chance to network and socialize over coffee... and generous plates of food. Paula Sandoval owns the place...

"It was actually.... legacy"

The women who gathered last Friday at Sandoval's restaurant are mostly Democrats, although the group's not explicitly partisan... we've asked them to focus on the election.

These are by and large professionals, from healt hcare, communications, law. Some are directly involved in politics. In fact, the founder of the cafecito -- which started 25 years ago -- now works for Senator Michael Bennet. The Latino vote in Colorado is a major focus for CPR News this election, and this visit follows on a conversation last fall, with a group of conservatives. I ask the 20 or so women gathered -- at a long series of tables -- if there are any first time voters.


Warner: Let me have you guys both introduce yourselves on mic in that case.

Yaya Lander: My name is Yaya Lander. I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela. We moved to Colorado some years ago because of the situation in my country. I feel very privileged to be able to vote in a democracy country, so I am very happy and excited about it.

Warner: Who are you voting for for President, if you don’t mind saying?

Lander: Oh, of course, for Hillary.

Warner: For Hillary.

Lander: I don’t have any doubt.

Warner: And you say “of course,” why of course?

Lander: Of course, because for her it’s like a continuation of the Obama politics.

Warner: And you raised your hand as well.

Leesly Leon: Yes, hello. My name is Leesly Leon. I am originally from Peru and I became a citizen a couple of years ago, and it’s very meaningful for me to be voting. I consider it to be a right and a responsibility, and I am very, I feel very privileged to be voting in this election in this country, in my new home.

Warner: And who will you be voting for?

Leon: I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.

Warner: And why?

Leon: Her plans, her political plans are very aligned with my values. I consider myself a liberal, a Democrat, and I very much support Hillary, that’s why.

Warner: Is there a value at the top of the list that aligns with her?

Leon: I believe that she’s a perfect blend of how to run what we consider in America—a good economy and at the same time keeping in mind the access for everybody else, for all the different segments that make this great country. 

Warner: What brought you to the United States?

Leon: I married a Colorado who was member of the NRA who has been in the military and who’s probably voting for Trump, actually.

Warner: How is that working out in your home?

Leon: Oh, well, Rosemary told me that I will be needing a divorce lawyer.

Warner: Rosemary, who organizes the Cafecito.

Leon: Yes, exactly.

Warner: And is he Latino?

Leon: No, not at all. He is second-American generation from a Swedish families.

Warner: But a divorce is not truly in the cards.

Leon: Not yet. We’ll see. We’ll see when election time comes.

Warner: Do you understand him and why he’s voting?

Leon: I think some of—probably because of his military background and I am never sure if he is saying it as a joke, you know, but sometimes he does say, “What if we let the Republican Party have what they want, control of everything? Let’s see what they do in four years and if everything is completely gone to hell, maybe they won’t have anybody else to blame.” But that is a very simplistic way, in my opinion, to try to make a point because the damage that is done in four years can take generations to reverse.

Warner: Do you guys talk about Trump’s view of Latinos?

Leon: Of course, you know especially when one of the first statements from Mr. Trump was that we were all gangs and rapists and you know criminals. My husband would say, “He’s just trying to attract attention by saying outrageous things.” And you know, growing up in Peru, we knew who the Mr. Donald Trump was. My mom, I remember saying, well look at, and there was even a book, I think, that mentioned him and said look, “In America you can make anything, you can do anything. Look at this man and look at all this money he has,” and then for him to come out and put us all in the same bag—that we are rapists and criminals. I think that Mr. Trump needs probably to take a walk outside of Fifth Avenue and see actually what Latinos have done and still do in this country.

Warner: Anyone not planning to vote? Those are bad words at this table.

Melissa Gonzales: I think that there are more people this year that are contemplating not voting because it’s either Hillary or Trump. I honestly—I’m a Republican, but I don’t believe in all of the social issues. That’s the part that I lean more towards Democratic ways, but for defense and economics and financial stuff, I’ve always been Republican and I really think there needs to be more regulation on government spending and different things like that. But for the first time ever, I just don’t like either choice. I would never vote for Trump because of what he stands for and he does say a lot of stuff and I think some things are misinterpreted but just the way that he handles his own business and who he chooses to hire and certain things like that, it’s just a really hard time. And I am really torn more this year than I’ve ever been.

Warner: And so would you consider a third-party candidate?

Gonzales: I would if there were any other candidates that I was happy with, and I can’t be swayed to vote for Hillary, so it’s either don’t vote at all or vote for Trump, which I wouldn’t do, so this year I’m kind of just maybe going to step back.

Warner: If you didn’t vote this year, would it be the first time in a long time?

Gonazles: Yes, yes, a very long time. I’m very set in my ways. I know what I like. I know who I want to vote for. I am strongly into researching everything that I do in my life, so this is just one thing that is really just weighing heavy on my heart.

Polly Baca: I’m Polly Baca, and I’m a former state senator—consulting now, semi-retired. I live in Denver.

Warner: And you’re a delegate for Hillary Clinton this year to the Democratic National Convention.

Baca: Yes, yes, yes. I actually met Hillary in 1972 when she was a college student. She and Bill went down to Texas, I was working for the Democratic National Committee. She and Bill were registering Hispanics to vote for George McGovern. She was obviously a very pro-progressive issues and supportive of the Latino community. A dear friend of mine was Marian Wright Edelman, who had started the Children’s Defense Fund, and what impressed me the most was later on Hillary graduated from Yale Law School, and she could have gone to work for any major law firm in the country, she could have made six figures. But instead what she chose to do is she called Marian and she said, “Marian, I want to come help you start the Children’s Defense Fund.” Hillary then became a member of the Children’s Defense Fund Board and served as its board chair till she became First Lady. She has always supported women, and families, and children, and minorities.

Warner: And yet Hillary Clinton has been criticized for some policies during her husband’s administration which led to increases in incarceration rates for Black and Latino people and cuts to welfare. She’s also taken a hard line against children coming from Central America. Do any of those critiques resonate with you, Polly Baca?

Baca: She wasn’t the President at that time. That was Bill’s presidency. She gets blamed for all of Bill’s—there are a couple of things that happened during that time that I disagreed with too, but she was the First Lady, she wasn’t the President. 

Warner: But she was instrumental in many ways in building a health care plan--

Baca: She was very influential, she was very influential. She was responsible for the development of the Children’s—you know, for CHIP. Without Hillary we would never have a Children’s Health Insurance Program, but don’t blame her for things that she had no relationship to, you know.

Warner: Anyone else want to say why they’re supporting Hillary Clinton?

Lisa Flores: I live in Denver, Colorado, and I am a school board member for Denver Public Schools. I have felt that the Republican nominee doesn’t necessarily have that policy background or foundation. I very much was interested in actually his education policy and what he was putting forward, and I didn’t see that Trump really had anything to offer and, as a matter of fact, his default was to talk about how he was going to get rid of Common Core without an actual understanding that that is not a federal platform or policy, that that has been developed and adopted on a state-by-state basis, so in terms of promoting local control, he actually had no idea about of what he was talking about or proposing.

Warner: Common Core are a set of academic standards that many states have adopted and many states were instrumental in creating.

Flores: Right, so that’s one. I would say, two, in terms of environmental policies, really grateful for Hillary’s platform and stance in being much more progressive and thinking about the challenge, the negative consequences that we are all facing because of climate change and in contrast, again seeing that Trump is actually supporting further development of fossil fuels.

Warner: I want to ask you about the environment. It seems that there is an awakening on the Democratic side this year that Latinos care about the environment. Apparently—

Audience: [Applause] Duh, Duh.

Virginia Ortiz: That is not an awakening, that’s a historical fact. Culturally, we are people of the earth and we honor Mother Earth.

Warner: What’s your name?

Ortiz: My name is Virginia Ortiz. 

Warner: And Virginia, where do you live?

Ortiz: I live in Arvada.

Warner: And what do you do?

Ortiz: I am the vice president of Development and Marketing and Community Outreach for Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.

Warner: So there is increasing polling that shows Latinos care about the environment, so if there is an awakening, it may be among political operatives, but do you think that the Latino vote in some ways gets pigeon-holed, like this is a community that cares about immigration?

Ortiz: Yeah, I think we do, and historically that is also a fact that we are typecast. The truth is is that we align ourselves with many issues the way that the rest of the world does. So the beauty about our, of our community is that we can come together on those things that matter, and those things that affect our community—our people, our children, our families—are the things that matter most to us.

Warner: And we have first-generation Americans here today.

Ortiz: We are indigenous to this country, to the United States, to Colorado. My people are historically from San Luis and New Mexico and Mexicanos are indigenous people to the US.

Warner: Right, I was going to say we have some first-generation and some long-time Coloradans. 

Ortiz: Long-time, forever.

Polly Baca: Fourteenth generation.

Warner: Fourteenth generation says Polly Baca.

Ortiz: Yeah, I can’t even count.

Warner: The founder of this Cafecito, who I guess started this about 25 years ago—we’re at a North Denver tamale restaurant where this group of Latina women sometimes meets, and—introduce yourself.

Rosemary Rodriguez: Rosemary Rodriguez. We’ve been gathering for about 25 years and I’d like to say that it’s cheaper for me than therapy because there’s so much health and good energy in this group. I’m a native of Denver. I’m on the school board right now. I used to be on Denver City Council. 

Warner: And you work for Senator Michael Bennet?

Rodriquez: Yes, I’m the State Director. But there’s one woman who isn’t here today who told me she was going to be here, and she was Bernie Sanders’ state director, and so I want to tell one little story that she frequently tells because she’s not here. She was born in Mexico and she used to work in her grandmother’s store as a child. And she talked about the environmentalism that she learned from her grandmother in the way that you didn’t throw away any scrap of paper. She says that her grandmother had a nail behind the cash register and any bit of paper that was left over from an envelope or a bit of wrapping paper, they would push on this nail. And she talked about her environmentalism as something she learned as a child.

Warner: What’s interesting is that what you describe there is environmentalism as a form of conservatism, that you conserve what you have; that you are not wasteful.

Rodriquez: Right. And it’s a cultural—could be a result of being low-income maybe, but it’s very, very ingrained in all of us at a whole variety of levels.

Warner: That is Rosemary Rodriguez-- of Denver  -- founder of the Cafecito-- this gathering of Latina professionals on Friday mornings. More about Senator Bernie Sanders' ideas ... after a break. And what each woman says is her top issue in this election... 

Let's return to my conversation with a group of mostly left-lesing Latinas at a North Denver tamale restaurant. Latinos are a fast growing portion of Colorado's electorate... and are a  major focus for CPR News this year. We spoke with a group of Latino conservatives in the fall. (Nats come back in here) Most of the women we met at the "cafecito" -- this weekly morning gathering--  support presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but some started out in Bernie Sanders' camp, as we'll hear. First, I asked the women to each name the MOST important issue for them in this election... 

Denise Maes: I have decided that I’m a single-issue voter for this election and it’s all about the Supreme Court because that really does impact our everyday lives as we can see by the most recent Supreme Court decisions.

Julie Gonzales:     Julie Gonzales. Immigrant rights.

Woman: At the federal level, immigration.

Woman: For me, it’s immigration in the first thing.

Woman: As much as I care about education and local politics, I think at the national level I am driven, one-by environmental/energy policy and then also foreign policy.

Patty Frederico: Patty Frederico. And for us—for my family—common-sense gun control is really important. My husband is an Iraq War veteran and we don’t want to see military-grade weapons gunning down our citizens over and over again.

Baca: I have two—the Supreme Court and rational gun control.

Yunuen Cisneros: Yunuen Cisneros. Really all kinds of social justice issues—jobs, health care, education, Supreme Court.

Ortiz: For me it’s living wage jobs followed by affordable housing, immigration and universal health care.

Adrienne Norris: Adrienne Norris. I’m going to pare it down to education because there’s a whole lot of stuff going on right now, but I think the more people understand how things work, the better off we all will be, and I think we’re definitely not there as a society.

Warner: Did anyone here—like the majority of Colorado’s caucusing Democrats—support Bernie Sanders?

Woman: Órale!

Warner: Quite a few hands have gone up. What attracted you to Senator Sanders?

Tashina Salas: I’m Tashina Salas, I’m from Denver, Colorado. I’ve been in North Denver for my entire life. I’m turning 22 in August. For Bernie I think he stands for a lot of values that just really speak to the people, and I also think that a lot of people hated his socialism ideas but they don’t realize that socialism is through our entire economy, like Medicare and the military and all that kind of stuff. I just love what he stood for, but obviously I’m not about to vote for Trump any time soon.

Warner: Well, are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

Salas: Yes, I am.

Warner: And was that a tough decision to come to, or an easy one for you?

Salas: An easy one. I mean, obviously she’s our Democratic candidate. I would never vote for Trump. How can you vote for somebody who stands for racism and sexism and bigotry and—

Warner: But doesn’t he also stand for something that’s outside the traditional system, and isn’t that what you were hungry for with Bernie Sanders?

Salas: Exactly, exactly. And so, I mean, I’m hungry for that but not in that way.

Warner: I understand you came with your mom, Marlene, and she is a die-hard Hillary supporter?

Marlene De La Rosa: Yeah.

Warner: And did you guys have a lot of back-and-forth over Hillary versus Bernie?

De La Rosa:     When we went to caucus, she said, “I’m sorry, Mom, but I’m over here on this side.”

Salas: I think she was a little surprised that I was going for Bernie because we hadn’t really talked about it because I had just gotten back from school.

Warner: And what did you think when she went over to the Bernie side of the room?

De La Rosa: First I thought, “You live in my house, you’ve got to go by my rules,” but no, really I said I was really proud that she would look at what the issues that were important to her and her generation and think about what she felt were of value to her and not in a candidate and that she did some research and that she made a choice based upon her own personal values.

Warner: And you made a choice, too. Why Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders?

De La Rosa: I felt like—I work in the federal government—so I felt like some of the things that Bernie talked about I didn’t believe could actually happen.

Warner: Let me ask a question of one more Bernie supporter, because I know there were more hands up.

Blanca Trejo: My name is Blanco Trejo. I’m a graduate student or about to enter graduate school at CU-Boulder in the fall.

Warner: And I understand that you are the first in your family to go to college?

Trejo: Yeah, to graduate. I graduated in 2010 from the University of Denver and I’m first generation to be born on this side of the US-Mexico border. So Marlene was talking about how she didn’t feel like Bernie Sanders’ ideas were feasible or practical, and I would say that that’s exactly what motivated me to vote for Bernie. I would have conversations with Hillary supporters and they would discuss practicality and they would discuss reasonability or, “Let’s take things slowly, let’s kind of do things incrementally.” And as someone who’s been a community activist for about 14 years now since I was 15 years old, it’s been critical for me to push things forward while the opposition is pushing in the other direction. And I think those out-of-the-box ideas—these very radical, seemingly radical ideas from Bernie Sanders--

Warner: Ideas like what? Let’s get specific. You just graduated college—

Trejo: Like free college.

Warner: You just graduated college I’m guessing with some debt, maybe.

Trejo: Fortunately, no. Fortunately I was one of the few and lucky ones that was able to get out of undergraduate debt-free from scholarships, however many of my friends are not, and that’s not the case. So one of the ideas that Bernie Sanders had thrown out there was this idea of free college. 

Warner: You know, there are some Latino Republicans who believe small business owners will be particularly open to conservative messages around low taxes, small governments, replacing the Affordable Care Act.  Do any of you own your own businesses, and would you respond to that idea?

Adrienne Norris:     Yes.

Warner: Tell me about yourself.

Norris: My name is Adrienne Norris and I currently live in Lyons but I’ve been in Denver for about 11 years now. I’m an artist and I’m actually an immigrant. I was born in Barbados, my whole family is from there, and I moved to the United States in 1985.

Warner: And you own a small business?

Norris: I do.

Warner: What is that business?

Norris: It’s called Afro Triangle Designs, and basically I do custom watercolor portraits and I have several series of paintings that I’m doing.

Warner: And tell me about this idea that small business might benefit from a more conservative administration.

Norris: It’s an interesting thing for me to kind of think about, because on the one hand, the more I learn about business, the more I learn about how much tax we actually have to pay—especially with sales tax and that kind of thing—the more daunting that becomes and so it definitely is appealing to me to pay fewer taxes. With that being said, when it comes to other conservative ideals, I find that they don’t really align with who I am and what I’m about as an individual.

Warner: Like what?

Norris: I find that a lot of stuff that comes out of the mouths of conservatives tend to be—if not completely bigoted, at least very narrow-minded when it comes to the actual realities of individuals who are lower income, who are of minority status, who are of immigration status, really not seeing the full picture of who we are and what we’re all about.

Ortiz: This is Virginia Ortiz. My husband has a small business. He does residential and commercial remodeling, and we both understand that what we do must be about the greater good, and so when we are confronted with higher taxes, we go, “Okay, but that’s how we have the services we have, that’s how people who do not have the resources and the luxuries that we have—that’s how they are able to provide for themselves and sustain their lives,” and so for. 

Warner: But do you have faith that the government is using that money to the best of its ability?

Ortiz: I do, I do. I completely support the Affordable Care Act. In Colorado we have been able to provide health care for so many kids that have not had access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, and while the conservatives would continue to want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, what I say is that we have an obligation to future generations to make sure that they have access to high-quality healthcare.

Cisneros: I’m a mother of two teenage girls, and they have taught me so much about the greater good what Virginia was telling me. It’s just serve the community. It doesn’t matter—you don’t need to blame yourself for having money, for having things that you work for, but also how you are going to share them and help others. We don’t care to pay so much taxes if that money is going to work for services for others.

Warner: Is that inherently a Latino value, or is that just a human value? What would you say?

Leon: Leesly Leon. It should be a human value, you know, and it’s again, trying to pigeon-hole them, “Oh, you are this little population, the minority,” and that’s the same thing like with environmental concerns. If you see someone who needs help, and you can help them even if it’s a little bit, why wouldn’t you? And that comes also for taxes, you know. I am an immigrant. I’m not a millionaire or anything, but I have a pretty good life, a very blessed life here, and everybody complains—something that I have learned about my new country is Americans, what they hate the most is their taxes. That’s their sensitive point, and I don’t mind paying taxes. I gladly pay for what this country is giving me. Many of you don’t know what it is to go to school, to come home and do your homework with a candle.

Warner: You’re from Peru?

Leon: I’m from Peru—to bathe yourself with a little bucket of water. Count your blessings that you can pay your taxes and we have good roads, that we have a security. You don’t know what it is to live with the lighting path, the Shining Path like we had in Peru.

Warner: The Sendero Luminoso, which is something of a domestic terror group.

Leon: Sendero Luminoso, exactly. So gladly I pay.

Warner: We talked with a group of Latinos who identify as conservative when the GOP presidential candidates debated in Boulder last fall, and one of them, Pauline Olvera, explained her conservatism as being closely tied to her heritage.

Recording of Pauline Olvera: I believe that Republican principles are the best principles for everybody, Latinos and Americans in general, because I really believe that bigger government involved in a person’s life is more constraining, it stops them from their individual liberty and honestly it’s not much different than the countries our families escaped. If you look at where our families came from, they came from countries where the government was involved in every aspect of their lives and they left those countries.”

Audience: [laughter]

Cisneros: I came from Mexico. I was born and raised there in Mexico City. I study in a school with American nuns. Many of these people that they talk like that, they have been here for many, many generations. They haven’t come back, so they don’t know what is really happening. In Mexico, for example, even people who are very, very poor, when they see somebody that is starving they give them a taco, they’re helping them. The government there organizes concerts—organizes things so everybody can go and enjoy, they have a lot of cultural events that are free. Many of our education is free. It may not be the best but healthcare is free. And one more thing that I want to tell you, I don’t know why when we say we care about nature, about studying, about being better, it is just suddenly that the Latinos want to be something different. We have always cared about education. We have always cared about nature. Nobody has to study us like a group like if we are animal in the sewer or something. We are people and we have always have those goals. For example, in my case, when I came here I discovered that I was a brown person, that I needed to fight for having a better education, that I was so stereotyped and that was limiting my options.

Warner: Do others feel stereotyped? Does that resonate with people, that idea?

Audience:     Oh, bigtime. Oh, yeah.

Warner: I guess what I want to know from you is that CPR News is focusing on Latino voters this election year in part because this segment of the electorate has grown year after year and is projected to continue to do so, and campaigns and political parties have specific Latino outreach arms with both conservatives and liberals feeling like they have an opportunity to win support. What do you think of this term, “the Latino vote”? Is it a stereotyping term? Is it one that helps us understand a community better?

Julie Gonzales: My name is Julie Gonzales. I’m a long-time immigrant rights activist and I very clearly believe that Latinos represent in Colorado, the margin of victory, and so we’ve seen it time and time again that politicians demagogue our communities. Politicians paint all of our communities with one brush, that we only care about immigration or that we are all rapists and terrorists. That is messaging that will not win our votes.

Warner: And what do you do for a living, may I ask?

Gonzales: I’m actually this year, because of the importance of this election, I got involved with the Bernie campaign this year to try to turn out as many voters to get out and vote and to help our communities win.

Warner: I want to ask you about tactics the campaigns use, and in particular the idea of pandering. Neither of the major presidential candidates are Latino, neither are the senate candidates in Colorado, but Hillary Clinton in particular has been accused of pandering to Latinos. She got the most attention for a campaign called, “Seven Ways Hillary Clinton is just like your Abuela,” on Twitter, and there’s laughter at this. On Twitter the hashtag, “#NotMyAbuela,” took off. Were you aware of that campaign, and what did you think of her efforts—again this is the Democratic side—with it?

Gonzales: I think that every single politician up and down the ticket in Colorado recognizes that Latinos are going to be an important demographic to pay attention to and to outreach to, and I think that—

Warner: But are they doing it in a respectful way?

Gonzales: I think that some candidates are.

Baca: Polly Baca. I really resent anyone suggesting that Hillary has been pandering. Certainly anyone who’s been working with our kids, has been out there helping us and helping our kids and our families ought not to be accused of being recently on board.

Warner: Have you recorded a TV ad for her yet, Polly?

Baca: I’d love to do so.

Warner: Okay. I want to wrap up with the question of turnout because, yes the Latino vote is growing, but that assumes that Latinos vote. In your lives are there people who don’t plan to vote, who haven’t voted in past elections and with whom you are having conversations to encourage to get to the polls? Who’d like to address that?

Trejo: My name is Blanca Trejo. I’ve been very passionate about politics and political science issues since I was 12, and growing up I had a lot of friends who would tell me, “Oh, Blanca, shut up already, I’m done with you talking about politics, I’m not even going to vote.” I continue to work with young people now and students who are just turning 18, and what I’ve noticed as a major difference between when I was in high school and the high school students that I work with now, is anger. Anger driven to go to the polls, and I think actually for all that Trump is, I have to take off my hat and saludarlo and kind of give him thanks for riling up these young people, because they have such an appetite and a motivation to actually get registered. I don’t know how many times working in the schools that I worked with in this metro area this past year, there was somebody registering students to vote. At Back to School Night there was “Mi Familia Vota,” there was all of these groups in the high schools, and students were actively going up and saying, “I want to register” or “Hey, my mom hasn’t registered.” That type of motivation. So although I believe that in previous years I heard a lot more, “I’m not going to vote, my vote doesn’t matter,” I think what Trump has done is really motivated people to say, “Ya basta [enough is enough].” 

Trejo: I work with a lot of students who are unable to vote, our undocumented community, our permanent residents that don’t have citizenship are not able to vote this year, but I cannot tell you how many times one of my students has posted on Facebook, “I can’t vote, so please vote for me” or “be my voice,” so what I’m seeing in a way that I’ve not seen in previous elections, is that even if someone is unable to vote themselves, they are actively posting and putting up this message, “Vote, get out to vote because your vote will impact my future.”

Warner: Thanks to everyone for being with us.