Latino activists looking to bring change and representation to the Midstate

Hispanic Heritage Month

LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) — Zaelys DeArce has been going door to door for months to get the word out. In her hometown of Lebanon, she could become the first Latina and one of the youngest to hold a seat.

“To be inexperienced, yes but out of touch, no,” Zaelys DeArce, Candidate for the Lebanon City Council said.

She says it’s time for a fresh face and a fresh perspective on the Lebanon City Council.

“Especially since we have a high population of young adults and we kind of look at it as if we’re 18 and we’re able to vote and make decisions for people who get to run the country, why aren’t we able to step in those shoes and do things locally,” DeArce said.

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DeArce believes she knows what the problems are and wants to fix them. “There’s a divide between the Northside and the Southside, there’s a divide between ethnic groups and there’s a divide between the city government and the public,” DeArce said.

She certainly won’t take no for an answer. Neither will Ricardo Almodovar, who’s focused on getting young voters to the polls.

“Our democracy works best with maximum participation and especially when it comes to students, and the student body they have historically low voter turnout,” Ricardo Almodovar, Pa. State Coordinator for Campus Vote Project said.

A community activist in Lancaster, Almodovar works to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. He says he knows all too well what happens when people don’t vote.

“Gay conversion therapy is a thing and it’s mental torture for youth and a lot of LGBTQ+ face discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and even in employment,” Almodovar said.

He’s looking to transform his community into a place he knows it can be.

“Systemic oppression requires systemic change and we need laws, we need policies we need ordinances and the first step to doing that is having conversations,” Almodovar added.

Almodovar works from home, but he’s working–hosting voting summits, working to empower youth. Zoom call after zoom call, this proud Latino is working hard to make an impact.

“You can’t just expect a superhero to just come in and swoop in and save the day. That doesn’t happen. Change happens over time when people take small actions little by little,” Almodovar said.

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