This Latina Wants To Represent East L.A. On The National Platform After Trump’s Victory
Maria Cabildo has been a longtime affordable housing advocate working in Los Angeles’ 34th Congressional district. The Congressional candidate, once named the Patron Saint of Boyle Heights, has spent the last 24 years of her life as an advocate and leader in the district she is currently seeking to represent. mitú talked with Cabildo about why she decided to enter the race for Xavier Becerra’s vacated Congressional seat after a lifetime of service to her neighborhood.
Maria Cabildo wants to take her battle for disadvantaged Americans and the results of the 2016 elections convinced her to run for office.
“Running for office wasn’t something I was planning to do and the night of the election, I was completely taken aback, like the rest of the country. Actually, my daughter, who is 15 years old, had watched the whole election with a lot of interest,” Cabildo told mitú. “The night of the election she was really devastated. She was in tears. After I consoled her, the very first thing that came out of her mouth was, ‘What about my future?’ I reassured her that there was nothing to worry about and that her future was fine.”
Even though she knew that her family would be okay, she knows that so many families won’t be, and she wants to fight for them.
“Almost immediately after Donald Trump was elected, affordable housing was impacted because the building of affordable housing is actually financed by tax credits that come out of the treasury and those tax credits really rely on corporations investing in those tax credits to build affordable housing,” Cabildo recalled to mitú. “So, immediately after the election, the market for those tax credits declined and a lot of those investors retreated because they were anticipating that the changes in the tax code would mean that they no longer have as much of a need for these tax credits. Also, the safety net issues that I’ve been work for my whole career also started to crumble right before my eyes so it was a number of factors that propelled me into it.”
Cabildo didn’t intend to jump onto the race at first, it was something that came about the more she thought about her own work moving forward under President Trump.
“I wasn’t, at that moment, saying that I was going to run for office but I was thinking to myself that I have this whole life of service already,” Cabildo told mitú. “I’ve been a non-profit leader for the past 24 years doing work for some of the most disadvantaged people in Los Angeles so I knew that no matter what happened, I was going to be stepping it up even more. I just didn’t know what that was.”
She is focused and wants to make sure we hold Republicans accountable.
“I think what we really need to focus on is organizing and keeping up the pressure on the Republican members of Congress. We’ve all seen that a lot of these Republican Congress people are coming home to a lot of angry constituents and I think that the way that we’re going to be able to counter Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric is by really keeping up pressure on Republican members of Congress so that they are not just falling in line behind the president,” Cabildo told mitú. “We have to take back the House in 2018. That’s really what’s critical.”
Cabildo wants the people voting on March 7 for the 34th Congressional seat that she has experience leading.
“I plan on going out there and knocking on doors and communicating with voters. When I founded East LA Community Corporation, that was in 1995. We knew that one house alone or one apartment building alone wasn’t going to transform communities and that what we needed to do was band people together to basically to develop a vision of what they want their community to look like and then organize to make that vision a reality,” Cabildo said to mitú. “When it comes to engaging with voters, I can tell them that I have already proven myself to be someone who listens to community, works with community to bring investments and change and fight for policy that’s important to them.”
And as for the people in the 34th district, Cabildo says she knows how different the needs and the people are.
“It’s such a diverse district so of course when I think of the 34th district, I think about the families like the family that I grew up in in East L.A. But I also think of the families who I raised my children with in Eagle Rock. It’s such a diverse district that I think of so many different people when I think of the district. I think of the señoras and the seniors that hang out in front of church after mass on Sunday with my mom,” Cabildo told mitú. “I started my career in Koreatown, like my first office was across the street from the Ambassador Hotel. I built my very first housing in Koreatown. I also raised my kids in East L.A. I have really spent so much time in this district so not one single type of person really pops into my head with I think of the district.”
Above all else, Cabildo wants for the voters to remember one thing: she is their fighter.
“I’ve already proven that I’m a fighter right here in L.A. and I’ve taken on some really tough projects. I’ve been someone who is fighting for this district already. In Congress, we have this huge fight ahead of us. There are so many issues that are important to me but I think of really creating opportunities for working families again because the truth of the matter is that even before this election, families and working people in the 34th district were struggling,” Cabildo told mitú. “We’ve had growing income inequality in Los Angeles, gentrification and we really need to look into how do we preserve economic opportunities and extend economic opportunities for people in L.A., especially in the 34th Congressional district.”