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A Progressive Daughter of a Taquero Is Coming for Huizar’s City Council Seat

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles has always been home to fierce community advocates, from Maxine Waters to Dolores Huerta. Lately, a wave of young progressive Latinas have been running for office and coming for establishment dem’s seats (and clutched pearls). Earlier this month, immigrant rights advocate Elizabeth Alcantar became the new mayor of Cudahy after a reorganization of city hall. 

Over in Boyle Heights, Raquel Zamora wasn’t confident that the two candidates running for her district in Los Angeles would address the plethora of complex issues her community experienced, including gentrification, skyrocketing rents, houselessness, environmental racism, and more. So, she decided to run herself.

“I’m running for City Council because I’m tired of career politicians abusing this particular seat. There is a lot of self-interest that comes from them and many use it as a springboard for a higher office.” She tells L.A. Taco, “the constituents in this district are the ones who suffer because we don’t get the services we need.” 

While Zamora is new to the political scene, she is not new to City Council District 14 which she considers “one of the most beautiful districts and so rich in history and one of the most important districts in the city.” 

Her family has been taqueros for the last six generations and this community-first and service upbringing has helped her focus on what matters the most: people.  

Are there any parallels in being a taquero and a politician? Believe it or not, yes.

Boyle Heights born and raised, Zamora is the daughter of the taqueros behind Zamora Brothers, a 50-year institution of Boyle Heights. While Zamora holds two degrees, one being a Masters, she maintains firmly that “the best university was Zamora university” where she learned Spanish, community needs, and work ethic. 

It was during her childhood spent helping at her parent’s taco shop she learned about addressing community needs in a small way without even realizing it.

“I learned very early that there is a lot of inequality and unfairness here.”

She said her grandfather instilled giving back at an early age. One of the most memorable occasions happened when she was nine. When a mother came in with four kids and asked for pan dulce, the mother said she didn’t have the money for it. So her grandfather filled a bag full of conchitas and handed it to the family. Her family has been taqueros for the last six generations and this community-first and service upbringing has helped her focus on what matters the most: people.  

Unable to send mailers, because those cost 20k a pop, the social worker decided to hit the streets. After walking block after block and going door to door with her daughter, Zamora is going to be on the ballot for City Council. 

Zamora has served her community as a teacher at LAUSD for 11 years and then as Pupil Services and Attendance Counselor for three years where she addressed student homelessness, abuse, and mental health. She tried to support the houseless students in her school the best she could, even opening the locker rooms early in the morning so students could shower before class began.

Then Zamora realized that she could help her students all day but without systemic change, the root of the issues would never be addressed and students would continue to struggle.

“If we’re not at the decision-making table, on the policies that affect us, nothing is going to change,” said Zamora

So Zamora filled her papers and signed her intent to run for City Council. Los Angeles Magazine initially listed her as one of the twelve “long shot” candidates back in November. Unable to send mailers, because those cost 20k a pop, the social worker decided to hit the streets. After walking block after block and going door to door with her daughter, Zamora is going to be on the ballot for City Council. 

“I’m here to stay—not to seek a higher office.”

For Zamora, the fight for the City Council seat is a personal one. Her district is affected by pollution, especially the kind that comes from freeways and factories in Vernon, like Exide which polluted neighboring communities with lead dust for 30 years causing birth defects and cancer to locals. She said that her opponent Kevin De Leon had the opportunity to vote to dismantle Vernon in 2011, so the city of corporations would face the same regulations the rest of LA faces, but voted against it. 

“His vision is being mayor and that’s why he didn’t sign the pledge to serve your term,” said Zamora

Zamora plans to serve all four years, and longer if her constituents allow it.  

“I’m here to stay—not to seek a higher office.”

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