A few weeks after the primary elections, a Latino bets on a seat in the state Assembly to represent South Los Angeles.

Efrén Martínez, 39, who was born and raised in that area, was the first of his family to attend college, served in the Marines for 10 years and then became a local businessman.

However, he says it is time to help his community move towards a better future.

Therefore, today seeks to be an assemblyman for District 59, which occupies areas such as Huntington Park and Walnut Park.

The Mexican-American said in an interview with La Opinion that his work, military, cultural and educational experience can lead him to the Assembly to represent a district where more than 75% of its population is Latino.

However, he says he hopes to win the vote not only of Latinos but also of the African-American community that makes up about 16% of the population. The demography also has 2% Anglo-Saxons and 2% Asians.

“My motivation to run is my desire to make (positive) changes for the community,” said Martinez, who recalled that when he grew up in the Florence and Central area, south of Los Angeles, there were not many resources for children and youth. .

In figures

District 59 has been known to have historically neglected and disadvantaged communities, with countless poor neighborhoods. The per capita income is estimated to be $ 14,000 and the average annual income is $ 36,000.

Although the population has changed and became an African-American majority to Latin, the problems for this district remain the same, said candidate Martinez.

He added that it is estimated that the district has just over 31% of people living below the poverty line.

And that in addition, there is a large number of unemployed compared to the rest of the county, poor access to parks and open spaces, lack of affordable housing options and saturated streets of homeless.

"Now that I am better (financially) I realize how much I missed when I was growing up," Martinez said. "I have a 5-year-old daughter and I don't want her to grow up without resources."

Efrén Martínez is running for the assembly of district 59. (Provided)

He mentioned that education is another priority for his community and that is why he works hand in hand with schools and teachers to distribute toys, turkeys, school supplies and scholarships to low-income students.

Martinez said that, if elected as an assemblyman, his main approaches will be housing, health, education and jobs for the community. It also ensures that a salary of $ 15 an hour is no longer enough, because rental prices will continue to rise and jobs are scarce in that district.

"We want to make sure we include our people for the projects in our communities," Martinez said, referring, for example, to construction plans that are usually well paid.

"Currently someone else is doing the job and offering it to a local (resident) also gives them the opportunity to take pride in their community."

Difficult but not impossible choice

Martínez acknowledged that he does not have the support of the large entities that usually support the candidates.

And although he says he has a good relationship with the Democratic Party, he has chosen to support Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

This, because usually the rule is that the Party supports the candidate who is currently in office.

However, he assures that he has won the support of the communities which has motivated him to move forward. At the local level, it has the support of several members of the town hall of Huntington Park and Vernon.

“The support is felt. In my campaign office on weekends you can see 35 to 50 volunteers knocking on doors and making calls, ”Martinez said. "Many are students and arrive with their parents."

He said that if elected, he will be the assemblyman of all and not just an ethnic group.

"We have already heard people who want to do (this race) some Latinos against African Americans but it's not about that," said the candidate.

Since Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer was elected in 2012, no contender has appeared strong enough to defeat him.

Martinez said he has not obtained any dollar from Sacramento and that of the more than 450,000 dollars raised, about 260,000 dollars were from his own pocket.

“This race will teach where the power is. If Sacramento is going to decide or if our community is going to choose the next assemblyman, ”the candidate reaffirmed.


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