Ramón Del Castillo, PhD
Amanda Sandoval is following a deep-seated tradition in her family—one of civic engagement and service for the betterment of humanity. She has intersected the best of three worlds, a mother who engaged and served as a role model in nonprofit leadership, a father who was a relentless community leader spending his life in service of the public, while adding a tinge of business acumen to complete the trifecta. As a lifetime resident of North Denver, she can attest to the many structural and environmental changes that have plagued North Denver and its longtime residents, more insidiously for the last decade, causing massive displacement for many Latino families, as government officials pander to wealthy developers pushing gentrification that has struck with a mighty blow. Her theme of social justice does not seem to be simply sloganeering, but action or what she terms “reflective representation;” perhaps a very contemplative analysis of a changing world with its adjacent demands for inclusive representation.
Sandoval has seen what happens when residents don’t have a voice in government, causing further disenfranchisement. With the values that have been instilled in her consciousness, it is easy to imagine the struggle she will embrace to create equal representation in a free society—a place and space where all residents can interact with each other to create change—a place where cultural respect is practiced, especially at a time when microaggressions are rampant.
I believe that Amanda Sandoval is ready to embrace the struggle to make a better neighborhood—one where fairness and equality are intertwined with social change. She has my vote.
She has the courage to not only think out of the box, but also challenge an entrenched political system to become activated on behalf of the citizenry. As Amanda Sandoval stated, “government is the place where the rubber hits the road.” I recollect when she asked me to speak at the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation over the name change at what used to be called La Alma Lincoln Park—now officially La Alma Park. Although, the correct Spanish version should be El Alma, Amanda guided residents in a dialogue to a point where history trumped linguistics. The deep desire to maintain a neighborhood could be heard loud and clear. Voices from throughout the community were respected that day in a packed house full of residents that came out to support their cause.
Stopping the migration of Latinas/os out of North Denver has become a rallying cry for many who have witnessed brown folks leaving in droves out of the neighborhoods. Amanda is cognizant that housing is an issue of paramount importance. You cannot destroy a community and expect it to reenter a domain without pumping resources into its infrastructure, both human and material. She draws a strong connection to working class Latinas/os whose buying and borrowing power cannot compete with the increased prices of home in the hood.
If poverty is the strongest indicator of human failure, its antidote is education for the masses—liberatory education, one that frees human beings to think critically about their collective existence. Sandoval knows that there has to be collaboration between city government and the Denver Public Schools—one where the nuts and bolts of education is student-centered. With the unrivalled power of a school board, and the power of one mayor, power has to be shared and managed as we collectively strive towards a healthier common good. Amanda Sandoval vows to penetrate this didactic constellation. She shared part of her vision to purchase land so that DPS teachers can have affordable housing and live in the communities that they serve.
With her keen understanding of the limitations of the mayoral form of government, when abused, places power into the hands of one person at the cost of squelching the voices of the powerless. Sandoval prides herself in having mastered land use in urban environments and how the lack of effective governance can create power brokers whose priorities often become blurred by the color green. She is thoroughly familiar with the shibboleths of bureaucratic systems entrenched in rules and regulations that stymie the common citizen. As she stated, “We should not work in silos.” Building alliances with community residents and “offering them a place at the table,” seems to be a personal invitation to become involved in local politics. Building alliances with other council members is a major theme in her political platform—alliances that will address any form of inequality and injustice. Her vision includes a continued passing of the baton to future generations of leaders, with an expressed desire to learn from the past.
Amanda Sandoval yearns for the good old days, but is also a realist whose vision is to change the social conditions that led to community displacement. If politics is the art of compromise; then, our illustrious new leader must enter the ring headstrong, without fear of retribution from the power structure. I believe that Amanda Sandoval is ready to embrace the struggle to make a better neighborhood—one where fairness and equality are intertwined with social change. She has my vote.
Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. © Ramón Del Castillo 4-5-2019.
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