#thefirsts | Judith Garcia

I grew up in Chelsea, MA in a proud Latino household. I am the daughter of a single mother who emigrated from Honduras to work in a factory making hot dogs. Her hard work allowed me to become the first in my family to go to college.

Growing up in Chelsea, Mass., I played in an empty lot littered with used syringes and trash.

My friends and I called it ‘War Zone.’ It was not an ideal playground, but it was better than the city’s parks, which were ruled by gangs. At an early age, I wondered why we had no access to small things like parks.

That wonder grew into a passion for community service, culminating in my recent election to Chelsea’s City Council, representing the Fifth District. I am the first millennial elected to the Council.

With almost zero political experience, I became the top vote-getter in the city’s primary; unseated the incumbent; and won the general election with 60 percent of the vote.

It was a historic election, with Latinos taking six of the 11 council seats, balancing what had historically been a mostly non-Latino council in a predominantly Latino city.

I made the decision to run for office because our local democracy was not representative of the people it served.  As a millennial and a Latina, I empathized with the struggles of my community. I wanted to represent their diverse voices.  

My candidacy was not about me, it was about embracing the vision and experiences of my constituents to improve local government.

I see city council as the frontlines of our democracy.  We make decisions that have an impact on people’s daily lives. We have the power to shape the effectiveness of the city, but that can only be achieved if we create a government that is inclusive.

I hope my first story inspires other Latinx millennials to get involved in local government and politics. We need young leaders to bring their ideas to the table, to be bold and dare to lead!

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