By Kim Huynh hopepaclogojp

When HOPE-PAC President Monica Rodriguez ran in 2007 for a seat on the L.A. City Council, some people told her to focus on raising her children instead. “You don’t say those things to men. You don’t tell them to focus on being a father,” Rodriguez reflects.

As a former executive to the California Association of Realtors, she had traveled extensively while managing to keep her work and family life in balance—prioritizing the two hadn’t been the issue. Instead, the election ran Rodriguez through an unanticipated financial gauntlet, against adversaries with the support of long-established political machines and institutions. Although her campaign had been competitive, proper resources might have made the difference.

Rodriguez’s case illustrates a common problem Latinas encounter as they seek to enter the political arena: they may not have equal access to the deepest pockets, or to wealthy donors willing to write checks. HOPE-PAC stands for Hispanas Organized for Political Equality – Political Action Committee. As California’s only political network to raise campaign funds specifically for Latina candidates, it aims to mitigate this problem by fundraising and providing the early, essential dollars when financial support for a campaign is critical—especially in a first run for office. In doing so, the organization aims to promote and increase the active participation of Latinas in all aspects of the political process, be it for elective office at the local and state levels, or on commissions and policy-making boards.

Among the list of candidates HOPE-PAC has successfully endorsed are Nury Martinez, when she ran for school board, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod.

Committed to more than fundraising, HOPE-PAC hopes to establish a network of women helping women, and leave a legacy of successfully elected candidates reaching out to help current or potential candidates. “That’s why synergy with close the gap CA is so important,” Rodriguez notes. “We want to see more women elected—while ensuring that experienced Latinas are not overlooked.”

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