I grew up undocumented. Now I’m running for LA City Council

A few months ago I was knocking on doors in my neighborhood, gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. I went up to a Filipino neighbor who was in his garage. I shared why I was running for office and asked for his support. He stopped me and said, “I’m just an immigrant”. I smiled and said “I’m just an immigrant too. I’m running to represent everyone in this city”.

One of my earliest memories in the U.S. is the summer of 1999. I was fourteen years old and my family had just migrated to this country. My mom was working the night-shift at a clothing hanger factory and she had a hard time keeping up with the production demands, so I would go a few nights a week to help her. I would work with her next to a big machine that would eject hot hangers every minute or so. It was then, in the first months of our lives in the U.S., that I realized my parents’ sacrifice to give us a better life — a part of the immigrant experience that has shaped this country for centuries. I made a promise not to let them down. To work hard and give back in order to better our communities.

This summer will be 20 years since I arrived to the U.S. Living as an undocumented immigrant youth was complicated to say the least. But, thanks to my family, friends, and the community, I have been able to achieve huge milestones in my life. I had the rare opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. I am a proud graduate from UCLA with a Masters in Social Work. I am a community organizer, and have led advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and federal level. My wife Bridgette and I have been able to become homeowners. And, most importantly, we have a brilliant, funny, and full-of-life daughter.

In these trying times, I’m stepping up to serve in a more impactful way. That is why I am running for Los Angeles City Council in District 12, to contribute to a San Fernando Valley where everyone feels like they belong.

Nationally, our government is in disarray, but we’re not doing much better here in LA. The FBI is investigating potential pay to play corruption involving developers. Rising inequality is putting working and middle-class families at risk. As housing becomes increasingly unaffordable we’ve seen rent controlled units continue to get bulldozed in favor of luxury apartments.

For too long, District 12 has been represented by a string of career politicians and City Hall insiders. We have an opportunity to end that. I support a ban on developer and corporate contributions, and have voluntarily pledged to not accept them. I’m a Democrat, but I always put people over partisan politics. That’s why when I was fighting for the DREAM Act I didn’t just occupy Senator McCain’s office, I led a hunger strike outside of Senator Feinstein’s office. I’m going to bring that integrity to LA City Hall.

I’ll use my skills as a social worker to address the homelessness crisis effectively and compassionately. We’ll create a community-driven process to develop more affordable and supportive housing.

As an organizer, I’m not afraid to take on special interests to protect our neighborhoods. I’ll work with community groups to push the governor to close Aliso Canyon before there’s another devastating blowout. I’ll also work to finally pass the proposal to ban oil drilling near homes, schools, and other sensitive sites.

We must stand up to injustice and fight for a better future for our children and generations to come. But, we can only achieve that vision together.

For the past four months, my daughter has accompanied my wife and I when knocking on doors. She and I take turns on who rings the doorbell and who hands out the flyer. At 5 years old, she is understanding the why one runs for public office. But, she is also learning the how of creating change. I am committed to create long-lasting change not only to honor my parents’ sacrifice, but as a promise to the next generation that deserves a more equitable future.

Our special election is on Tuesday June 4th. Join me in building our collective power, and support my campaign to ensure a City Hall that represents all of us.

Carlos Amador is a member of the Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council and a long time human rights advocate. He is the only Latinx candidate in the race for the District 12 Los Angeles City Council seat. Council District 12 includes the neighborhoods of Granada Hills, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, West Hills, Sherwood Forest, as well as parts of Reseda and North Hills.