by Hatzune Aguilar Sanchez
California’s independent redistricting commission adopted final congressional and legislative districts for the next decade, starting with the 2022 elections. When you hear about a Latino majority district in California—think Latina power. Why? Because, Latina voters consistently outperform their Latino male counterparts in voting. Therefore, replace Latino-majority with Latina voting power like this:
• 22 of the 80 new state Assembly districts and 10 of the 40 state Senate districts have majority Latina power voting populations.
• California has approved a new congressional map with six more Latina power voting bloc districts. Sixteen of California’s 52 total congressional districts are Latina power voting bloc districts.
• In the latest 2020 census count, California’s Latino population made up the largest racial or ethnic group for the first time; nearly 40% of residents—more than 15 million—identified as Latino. And according to California’s Department of Finance estimates, that population will grow to represent half of all Californians by 2060.
When we delve deeper into those statistics, we can see it isn’t just Latino voters who will decide the direction of our futures—but again—Latina women specifically.
Across our Communities for a New California work, our canvassers and phone bankers ask to speak to the decision-maker of the house. When we make that request, we are very aware that most often it is the Latina woman who will take that call or visit because they are the ones making the final decisions for the household, who will ensure the Census questionnaire is completed, vaccine appointments are made, a voting ballot is completed, and will decide if and when the children of the family will return to school. They may make the decisions in partnership with others, but carry weight in their families and personal networks.
The Coachella Valley and the San Joaquin Valley are home to an ever-growing Latina base of voters who are personally experiencing a housing crisis that is pushing their families out of their homes, and the climate change crisis in the form of toxic drinking water and pervasive health issues resulting from wildfires, drought and pesticide use near our homes.
The overarching lesson is anyone who wants to lead in California must do so with the support of Latina voters. Because Latina voters and their families are most familiar with the day-to-day consequences of the climate change crisis, housing affordability, and economic opportunities, they are the ones who will hold their elected leaders accountable to real solutions. Any elected or appointed officials who refuse to address these issues do so at their own detriment.
Currently, California as a state and every California region is led by a male majority. In the Central Valley and Coachella Valley, a conservative majority of county board of supervisors ignores issues that Latina voters care viscerally about. As Latina voters, we are only one spark away from rising up and continuing to push our sphere of influence outside of our personal networks into political leadership on behalf of our towns, cities, counties and beyond.
As redistricting has created opportunities for families and neighbors to choose elected representatives who will champion their interests, we will see a greater number of women take that opportunity and run with it.
So what’s next? We must commit to listen and act on the priorities of Latina women and women as a whole. We do not need anyone to educate us on WHY our leadership matters or WHAT is at stake. Instead, we need to be ready with financial investment and campaign resources that are equivalent to what our male counterparts in urban centers are securing.
It is time to invest in the Central Valley and in the Coachella Valley beyond the usual election cycle or tit-for-tat politics. It is beyond time that the pathway towards California’s future centers on the priorities of Latina women and women as a whole because we are the spark leading the ways towards a better future—LUCETE!
Hatzune Aguilar Sanchez is director of strategic engagement for Communities for a New California Education Fund. To learn more about what CNC does for communities and how you can get involved, visit www.cncedfund.org.