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About Politics Within Politics

This blog will serve as a commentary that explores issues related to the intersection of American politics, race, and gender. Its focus is on the leadership of diverse women who served or currently serve in a role that contributes to shaping the outcome of political campaigns or civic engagement/voting efforts.... Read more

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Loretta Garcia: Moved by Political Movements

For this month, Politics Within Politics features Loretta Garcia, an elected member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), representing District 16. Loretta, an attorney, has worn many hats in politics at the local, state and national level.  Loretta recently sat down with us to provide insight on her introduction to politics and how other women can take action in the political setting as Maryland prepares for the primary election in June 2018.

 

PWP: What inspired you to get involved in politics?

Loretta: I’ve been politically active since I was a teenager. I grew up during the time of the lettuce boycott of the 1970’s – I remember it so well, the migrant farmers and the labor movement with leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. That was my first recollection of a political movement. Both of my parents voted in every election and taught my siblings and me the importance of civic duty. When I was in college during the 1970’s, I interned in the district office of my Congressman, Rep. Timothy Wirth of Colorado. I have worked on campaigns at the local, state and national level ever since. Now I am involved because I’m passionate about protecting the environment. Climate change is a big issue here in Maryland. Also, I’m so disheartened to see 50 years of progress being undone by the current Congress and Presidential administration. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen either.

PWP: What do you love most about politics and campaigns?

Loretta: Politics can bring about change. It’s how we make laws.  And laws can change everything from local zoning to major national policies such as health care. For women who are getting involved into politics for the first time, I would encourage them to get active in an organization whose work that they support.  It could be a Democratic Club to support the party. Or it could be an issues-oriented group like The Sierra Club, or Planned Parenthood.

PWP: What are some challenges you often encounter in politics? How do you overcome those challenges?

Loretta: Raising money is always a challenge for candidates and for Party organizations. Also, keeping up with the issues can be challenging. But, some issues can be in play at local, state and national levels.  It’s important to read many media sources to keep up with the issues. No one can have all the skills.  But some important skills are grassroots organizing, getting voters to the polls, writing materials on a candidate or the issues, or raising money.

PWP: What role do you currently play on the MCDCC?

Loretta: The MCDCC assists Democratic elected officials and candidates who are selected in the primary process.  My primary role is working on voter protection during the elections. Additionally, I have worked on preparing a sample ballot sent to voters registered as Democrats in the county. This ballot highlights the Democrats who are on the ballot to help voters know which candidates are Democrats. MCDCC also spends time on fundraising to print the sample ballot and other mailers, as well as operating expenses.

PWP: How can we build coalitions across communities since our County is so diverse?

Loretta: Many issues run across communities.  People sometimes ask me what issues are important to Latinos or women?  I say the same issues that are important to everyone: quality schools for their children, good jobs, a livable wage, affordable housing, safe and available food and water, and conservation of the planet. The magic to working in coalitions is to find common interests and to reach out to others who are different from ourselves.

PWP: What can we do to get out the vote early in advance of the 2018 elections?

Loretta: I am a believer in old style politics: shaking hands and talking to voters one-on-one or in small groups.  Some of the most successful politicians in history – whether recently or way back – have taken this approach.  Some examples are John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

PWP: What are your plans for the upcoming primary in June 2018?

Loretta: I’ve been considering the House of Delegates or County Council because there are lots of seats open in 2018. The landscape hasn’t been defined in the political setting yet. I am leaning towards the County Council, but if the seat opens in District 14, then I will consider the Delegate seat.

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Loretta Garcia is currently the Manager of Enforcement Programs in the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, which handles claims of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and hate crimes (Intimidation). Ms. Garcia has focused her career working on social justice issues, including immigration reform, children’s rights, and environmental protection. Most recently, Ms. Garcia has focused her efforts on reforming the legal system to address injustices for disadvantaged communities. She was appointed to the Judicial Nominations Commission by Governor Martin O’Malley. While serving 8 years for the commission, she focused on adding to the courts judges from diverse backgrounds. Ms. Garcia earned a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center, a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from University of Colorado at Denver.

What advice would you give to new women political operatives in the County? Let us know on Twitter @PoliticsWithin! 

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Tonia Bui

About Tonia Bui

Tonia Bui is an advocate for underrepresented communities through media relations, strategic communications and constituent outreach. She previously served as the Communications Director for the Nguyen for Delegate Campaign (VA-67). Her efforts to build stakeholder engagement stems from her experiences serving as an Outreach Coordinator at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as the Member Outreach Assistant to Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34). She is also a former legislative intern for the former offices of U.S. Senator Barack Obama (IL-13) and California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (CA-12). She led the Asian American voter outreach efforts for the Darcy Burner for Congress Campaign (WA-08) in 2008. Tonia holds a Master in Public Policy from American University and a B.A. in Mass Communications and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Read more of Tonia's blog Politics Within Politics.

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