Why I'm Running

If you want to know what someone’s made of, you need to know where they’ve been. Why did I decide to run for Congress? The answer isn’t in my resume because the real story is in the spaces between the bullet points.

Alejandra and her mother

I come from a family of immigrants, and my single mom and grandmother were my rocks. My earliest memories are from the small three-bedroom apartment that eight members of my family shared for most of my childhood, where my grandmother rolled flour tortillas on the table, my aunts prayed novenas in the living room, and my grandmother and I swept the front sidewalk. It was also in this apartment that my grandfather, a car mechanic, spent his evenings covered in oil from back-breaking work that never seemed to cover the bills.

When I was young, I never dreamt that I would have the opportunity to work in the White House, just feet from the Oval Office, fighting for the issues that continue to impact the

Alejandra and her grandmother at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles

lives of my family and community. Back then, like many families, we were just trying to survive.

I was born in Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, not because it had the best maternity ward, but because they accepted Medi-Cal. I’ve felt my cheeks burn in the supermarket check-out lane as the cashier processed our WIC coupons. I’ve known what it’s like to struggle to access health care and fear doctors as a result, watching my grandmother suffer in silence during her losing battle with cancer. And I’ve seen the indignity that our homeless population faces, after my grandfather lay unaided in the

Alejandra’s 15th birthday

street after suffering a stroke, because everyone who passed him by assumed he was homeless based on his appearance.

I’ve lived many contradictions, and like other young people who are among the first in their families to forge a path to higher education and a professional career, I know the weight of

social mobility. I’ve been on financial aid at private schools, wearing a used plaid uniform and eating a bean burrito in a schoolyard full of Lunchables. Later, I attended USC thanks to loans, Cal Grants and work study next to classmates whose pool houses were bigger than my apartment building. Knowing that I would have to take out a full tuitions worth of student loans in order to attend Harvard, I did so anyway. In order to accept an opportunity to be a part of then-Senator Obama’s Presidential campaign in 2008, I’d have to live off my credit cards and I did so anyway.

I know what it really takes to fight for even your right to the American Dream. The issues that face our district and our country are not just words to me. They are obstacles that I’ve already faced head on and that I have overcome.

When I see what Donald Trump and Republicans are doing in Washington every day, I see how much is at stake and recognize this as an all hands-on deck kind of moment.

That is why I’m running for Congress.

Alejandra introduces her family to President Obama

I’m running to protect the great people of this district, who, like me, have struggled and overcome too much to be trampled and ignored and misrepresented. I’m running to make the people of this district heard.

If there’s ever been a moment to put it all on the line and fight for our collective future, this is it. Our values and rights as a community – as a country – are truly at stake and it’s in these moments that we are tested.

I’ve had to fight for my future every step of the way – from welfare to the White House. It didn’t stop me then and it certainly won’t stop me now. If anything, these experiences have only served to instill in me empathy for others and made me tough as nails. We need truly tough people in Washington now more than ever. Not just those who talk a big game, but those that back it up. And that’s what I bring to the table.

I wasn’t born a fighter – no one is. Life made me one. Now I’m yours.

And our time is now.