By: Ingrid Duran, Grace Garcia & Catherine Pino
Founding Executive Board Members of Poder PAC
Latino elected officials currently comprise a little more than 5,400 of the total population of elected officials and of that, one-third of them are Latinas. Of the one-third, most of the Latina elected officials are concentrated at the school board level. We have five Latina Members serving in the United States Congress, which is less than one percent of the total 435 Members of Congress. In November 1992 our first two Latina Democrats were elected to Congress, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA- 33) and Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY-12). In the 16 years since they were elected to Congress we have gained an additional four Latinas (Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) elected in 1996, Grace Napolitano (CA-38) elected in 1998, Hilda Solis (CA-32) elected in 2000 and Linda Sanchez (CA-39) elected in 2002). And, Hilda Solis just left Congress to be the first-ever Latina Cabinet Secretary and Secretary of Labor. We have never had a Latina elected to the Senate nor have we had a Latina Governor.
Needless to say we have our work cut out…
That’s where PODER PAC by Latinas for Latinas comes in. This national Latina political action committee had been in idea land for a very long time and the 2008 presidential campaign gave us the push we needed to take it from idea land into reality!
PODER PAC was created by a group of Latinas who were part of the passion and hard work that the 2008 presidential campaign, which elicited such energy by women and Latinas across the country who engaged in both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
We wanted to keep the momentum and excitement that had been generated out of this election and make it work for our hermanas. All to often Latina candidates are not viewed as serious contenders because they lack the resources and, in some cases, capacity. So we decided it was time to harness the passion and energy of the campaign season and create a PAC by Latinas for Latinas to help build the capacity and resources to help elect more Latinas across the country.
We formally launched the PAC in August of 2008 at the Democratic Convention in Denver with all the Democratic Latina Members of Congress, Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson with a room full of Latinas. The excitement has been electrifying; there has been a tremendous amount of interest in the PAC. We launched our website www.PODERPAC.com, created a board of directors and advisory committee and have worked hard to raise money and identify Latina candidates from the school board level to Congress to support. PODER PAC currently doesn’t have a staff and is being led by a fabulous all volunteer board, advisory committee and honorary co-chairs.
In 2008 PODER PAC endorsed five Latina candidates. The word about the PAC and our efforts to build the bench of qualified Latina candidates to run at all levels of government has spread like wild fire and we need your help to raise awareness, raise money and identify Latina candidates. Please visit our website to get more information on PODER PAC, to donate and to find out how you can get involved.
We would like to thank Ingrid Duran, Catherine Pino, and Grace Garcia (Founders of Poder PAC) for sharing with our readers.