Yesterday afternoon, a letter written by my state senator, Tony Mendoza, came to my attention. I filed through the several pages of it. It was nothing that I had not heard before in the media or various press releases. However, what did stand out to me was one line that concluded the memo: “What’s happened to me can happen to you”.
As I’ve been organizing in the past few weeks to get a no-endorsement vote for Sen. Mendoza, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard in reply, “Tony Mendoza has done great things for our community”. I wish the response was, “Tony Mendoza is currently under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct”.
This Saturday morning, delegates in the 32nd Senate District will be voting on something more important than politics. Our vote tomorrow has nothing to do with politics but everything to do about principles.
For many of us, we have been fighting an uphill battle to refocus the Democratic Party on values over politics and we certainly are not ready to give up fighting now. We fought to represent the ever-growing progressive contingent of the Democratic Party as Sanders delegates at the Democratic National Convention. We fought to reform the California Democratic Party as elected delegates. We fought to get Kimberly Ellis, unbought and unbossed, elected as chair of the California Democratic Party. Now, we are fighting for women in Sacramento by blocking the Democratic Party endorsement from legislators accused of sexual harassment. It has always been about what we value and support as human beings and it has never been about political games.
All of the votes that will be cast tomorrow at our local pre-endorsement conference will be public. When I look at the results tomorrow, I expect to see each delegate who has ever raised a daughter who may have dreams to be in politics one day, who has ever marched as a feminist at the women’s march, or just respects women in general to vote “No Endorsement” for Senator Mendoza. If you supported women at the women’s march, you can support women with a no endorsement vote tomorrow.
I am a young woman in politics. One of the women who accused Senator Mendoza is my age, 19. I read Senator Mendoza’s “What has happened to me can happen to you” from a different perspective. What has “happened” is women, who work in a microcosm of toxic power dynamics, finally gathering the courage to stand up against their sexual predators. It’s not about what has “happened” to Senator Mendoza. It’s what has happened to the women who have accused Senator Mendoza, can happen to you, or your daughter, or your sister, or your friend.
If someone you cared about was sexually harassed, would you stand on the sidelines because you don’t want to make enemies, or would you actually do something? I hope that you would do something.
Tomorrow, our convener will read out-loud “Zenaida Huerta, votes ‘no endorsement’”. When the convener reads your name tomorrow morning, what will your vote say?