Guerrero: L.A. needs a new generation of Latino leaders
L.A. needs a new generation of Latino leaders who can step into the arena of politics.
Rafael Guillermo Guerrero stood at the podium, surrounded by three dozen supporters and a dozen or so media members. With his bald head and dark complexion, he looked like he belonged at the lectern, even though this was his second-to-last state convention as the Los Angeles City Council president.
The audience, most sitting in the dark corners of the room, was mostly Hispanic. The vast majority of them were Latino, though there were other groups such as Native American Indians and African Americans. They took turns shouting questions at Guerrero. Many waved signs and held up signs with slogans such as, “Our city is in shambles,” “Vote L.A.” and “We are all the same.”
Afterward, a representative of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor told me that Guerrero’s message was resonating among the rank and file, but that the Latino leadership had yet to come out in full force to push the issues of labor and immigrant rights.
The election, which was close, had shown that Latino voters were more likely to vote than whites. A plurality of Latino voters decided who would run in the city council races. Guerrero and his allies hope that when Latinos turn out in large numbers at the polls, their votes will help shift California’s political landscape to more of the kind of politics they’d want.
“The election has really shown that the Latino community is coming out in droves, even though it was close,” said Guerrero, standing before a cheering crowd, most of whom showed up to support his bid for a second straight term. “Voters were saying there was a better way, and they came out and voted in the numbers that we needed.”
I saw Guerrero in his final campaign. His campaign headquarters was located near downtown L.A., close to the home of his friend and colleague, City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. When I met with him, the headquarters had been gutted, but he was still planning to leave a campaign office in the building for the foreseeable future. I walked in for a short interview after