City Councilor, Chelsea, MA
Huffington Post's 10 Latinas Think Big Innovators to Watch, 2016
Award from the Greater Boston Labor Council for adopting the Wage Theft Ordinance
Selected by The Latino Victory Project to be featured on their Firsts Campaign as an inspiration story to mobilize the Latino Millennial Vote
By: Frank Morris
"When I decided to run for office in Chelsea, a predominantly Latino community where Central Americans have a strong presence - to run for them was almost inspirational,” said Judith Garcia, the 25-year-old who last year became the first Honduran American to be elected to the Chelsea City Council.
“It's just an incredible opportunity to have people who believe in me,” she said.
Having spent her entire life in Chelsea, Garcia has seen the needs of her community — and her generation — first hand.
"When I ran for office in 2015, the reason I did it was because I felt there was a new generation of leaders that need to share the torch of power and I thought, ‘How do we get millennials to be invested in democracy?’” Garcia said. “And what's interesting about local politics is people are not asking for miracles. They’re asking for tangible change related to things like lighting, parking, and water bills.”
Since beginning her term in January of this year, Garcia said she has supported and implemented a program that provides senior citizen homeowners with a discounted water bill, and adopted an anti-wage theft ordinance to prevent employers from exploiting undocumented workers. She also has been a big advocate of making her city eco-friendly, she said.
Being a city councilor in Chelsea is technically a part-time job, “however, it’s my fulltime job to be honest with you. I make it a priority to be available,” Garcia said.
“This is something I tell people my age: I never thought I would run for office, but I always knew I wanted to be part of the changing process, the decision-making process, having a say. I like to consider myself an ambassador of Chelsea, I take it with me everywhere I go,” she said.
In fact, Garcia said, one of her favorite parts of campaigning — and something she still does now that she is serving — is going door-to-door talking to residents.
“I walk everywhere I go. I still go to convenience stores and talk to the owners. I talk to people about the presidential election, register people to vote, invite constituents for dinner - all on me - to talk about what issues they’re having in Chelsea,” she said. “I don’t want to be the politician to door-knock just because I need a vote. I need to hear from you so I know how to best represent you and I need to know what's going on in each street.”
In her spare time, Garcia teaches an apprenticeship for fifth-graders on running for office at Browne Middle School.
“I teach them how to run their own campaigns, the power of running for office, being good communicators, being great leaders. That's my small contribution of planting the seed so kids can see it is possible.”