By Chanel Ward
Longmont resident, Marta Loachamin, a Democrat, is running for 2020 Boulder County Commissioner against fellow Democratic candidate Jonathan Singer, Colorado State Representative (D-Longmont) in the Boulder County June 30th primary.
Loachamin, a local Housing Advocate, was previously a teacher in St. Vrain Valley School District and has raised her family in Longmont. She serves as a Director for the Longmont United Hospital Centura Health Board, the Denver President of the 2017 National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), Organizer of Solera National Bank, Resiliency Specialist with City of Longmont, and is a local Family & Community Engagement Consultant. Loachamin would be the first-ever Latina elected to the Boulder County Commissioner’s Office.
The Boulder candidate recently spoke with The Weekly Issue/El Semanario to give some insight into her campaign and a background of social justice that led her to run for the District she knows and loves.
Please, tell us about your background and your platform.
My background is in banking, finance, mortgage, real estate, teaching, consulting and general volunteering around Boulder County, I’ve been in and out of Boulder County since 1992, I started as a CU [University of Colorado] student and was very active in social justice work and civil action as one of the students that helped create the Ethnic Studies Department at CU Boulder. It was really significant work around social justice and it’s the bigger thing we’ve been working on locally at a state level and suddenly nationally. When we talk about Ethnic Studies that is also the same conversations about curriculums, how certain communities’ history and contributions and stories and voices are not always heard; they’re not always included and it’s been a continual fight. Also, I’m proud to have been part of that movement and also we have now a PhD program at CU Boulder, I get to go back and do guest lecturing every once in awhile to make sure students know the history, because that’s really important. I started in banking and for me the banking piece was an opportunity, I worked in restaurant before that and got a job interview opportunity and it’s not ever something I thought, especially as an Ethnic Studies major that I would do, but it ended up changing the trajectory of my life. That was the first time from a professional lens that I saw the inequities of how communities are served, invited, informed and advocated. I was specifically asked to translate for a banker, I was on the teller side, and she handed me the phone and asked me to tell a Spanish speaker that he was denied for a loan and that conversation is still so present in my everyday work and it’s why I do what I do. It really challenged me personally to figure out and do the hard work to learn as much as I could about the financial system and services and ask the hard questions and I moved that real drive through also being in the mortgage industry and realizing, “hey, this is how I can help people,” is to get them into homes and help them build equity and that’s how we level the playing field. That’s how we get opportunity. That’s how we start breaking down generational wealth gaps.
I know Boulder has been a place of work and home for you for nearly 30 years now, why is now the time to run for Boulder County Commissioner?
Part of the timing has to do with two things: I live in District 2 and although it’s an at-large vote, I can only run when there’s an opening, so that’s one piece of it; that there’s an open seat this year in District 2 and that’s where I live and the other piece is that my kids are at an age now where they’re both off at University so I felt like this was a time that I can make that work. That’s one of the careers that’s the most important [being a parent] and one that’s most undervalued any parent can attest to that, especially single parents and so to be able to navigate those systems there’s a real value there and it’s almost like another career to say this is what I have done successfully to get my kids through school and I have two boys – and I talk about it a lot – from a system standpoint, statistically one of them may not have made it. So, for us to be able to come around as community supports and through volunteer work, I really think that was part of the reason my modeling of here’s what hard work looks like, here’s what happens if you go back to school as a parent to get your Masters, or you can do it all at one time, but that opens our kids eyes.
From a realtor to running for 2020 Commissioner, how is that transition beneficial to your campaign?
It’s true that there’s a certain sacrifice when you run for office. Last year, I went through the Emerge Colorado program, and that was for me, important just because I’ve done formal training for every job I’ve ever done, so to be accepted into their application process to do their 6-month training and it’s all about women running for office and what I think is super fascinating and we see it even on the national primaries, the questions people have around women in leadership from a business standpoint, I’ve talked about it for years and certainly in my industry of finance and real estate is that less than 5% of our CEO’s in the United States are women, so there’s major issues around leadership and how it is if we don’t select women to be in those roles.
Hispanics are the second largest group in Boulder County but are behind in numbers of high school graduations and moreover 4-year degrees, will you address that as a bilingual speaker yourself and what is your plan going forward?
One, the importance of having representation is significant and we started seeing that over the last few years with some of the research that was brought out talking specifically about education that was real big on social media; about if Black students have a Black teacher, it changes their trajectory and the data was showing that. I believe the same for our Hispanic/Latino demographic, because in Colorado after working in classrooms, after going through a grad program in Colorado with other people really wanting to be teachers, the majority of our Colorado teachers are white women. So, there is a disconnect, especially over the last several years about families who are worried about ICE raids, who are worried about DACA expirations, who are worried about where we are currently with attacks on different communities of color. And so how does somebody who doesn’t have those types of experiences lead the conversation? How do people from a leadership level calm people and respond to people and really have even an open-door policy if you don’t feel like you have a connection? To be the first person of color as the Boulder County Commissioner, to support the 2,000 Boulder County employees just internally, opens a complete different opportunity for communication and ways of supporting internally; which I truly believe becomes this influencer to other organizations and to other buildings and businesses in Boulder County. When they see this is how we dynamically lead, this is how we start changing the way that community is brought into our leadership and brought into our boardrooms and brought into the decision making. So, I do believe there is some value in representation.
Loachamin further explained her priorities regarding environmental inclusion among Boulder County’s Latino population: “There is some amazing programs and work being done in Boulder County, certainly money and funding coming from the county commissioners’ office. We are basically on a national map on the incredible initiatives that are happening already towards EV (Electric Vehicles), towards transportation options and towards funding for a lot of these different sustainability efforts.
“The piece that I believe that we are really missing is the lens and frame of Eco justice, which is similar in the same standpoint of when we go back to; who is a part of the decision making around who is being most affected by these issues of air quality and water quality? And really care for everything, environmental in general, because our communities of color and specifically in Boulder County — we talked about that 21% Latino/Hispanic demographic — it’s our communities that are affected and the least informed. And I believe strongly that we’ve been to all these different organizational meetings of different non-profits that are really focused on environmental work, like the Sierra Club, like Colorado 350, like the Lookout Alliance and folks who are really concerned about oil and gas development. My question always is, ‘who is not in this room?’”
Loachamin’s policy focus is on Accessible and Affordable Housing, Economic Opportunity, Healthy Environment and Community and more. To learn more about, or to follow her campaign you can visit Loachamin’s website at Marta2020.org.
Chanel Ward es un Reportera Independiente de The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.
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