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Adriana Cabrera, 29, was born and raised in South Los Angeles, where she is currently running to represent District 9 as a council member. District 9 stretches across some of LA’s biggest attractions, including the Los Angeles Convention Center, Crypto.com Arena, University of Southern California,  Banc of California Stadium and the historic Central Avenue Corridor. 

Latinos make up 80 percent of the resident of CD9 and Cabrera is the only candidate who lives in the district.

Cabrera’s parents immigrated from Puebla, Mexico. Neither of her parents spoke English or Spanish, but instead spoke Nahuatl, their indigenous language.

“As the oldest daughter, I grew up translating for them,” Cabrera said. “My mother is a seamstress and my father is a construction worker.” 

Cabrera said that she grew up with fearing that officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would raid her family home. “I was the first one in my family who was born here,” she said, “so growing up with the fear that everyone around me would get deported was very hard. I knew that if that happened, I’d be head of the house and I would have to care for my younger siblings.”

Cabrera said that she began organizing and getting involved in her South LA community as a 12-year-old after losing a boyfriend, cousin, neighbors and classmates to gang violence. In addition, she believes that her experiences sharing a one-bedroom with family, being a first-generation college graduate and surviving “extreme poverty” make her an ideal candidate to serve the neighbors she grew up with. “Me running has nothing to do with me and everything to do with my community,” she said. “It means the world to me that young people believe in me. Whenever I feel drained and burnout I think of the youth and it reminds me while I’m doing this.”

Cabrera ran for office in 2022, but missed making the ballot because 600 of the 1,000 qualifying signatures she handed in were invalidated by voting officials. She said there is an ongoing investigation to determine what happened. CALÓ NEWS caught up with Cabrera to talk about her second run for office.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ANY CANDIDATE IN LA OR LA COUNTY WHO WISHES TO RESPOND TO QUESTIONS RELATED TO ISSUES IMPORTANT TO LATINOS SHOULD CONTACT BRENDA@LATINOMEDIA.ORG.

WHAT MAKES YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR DISTRICT 9?

I am the only candidate in the race running for the community that raised me. Currently, both of the people on the ballot, Dulce Vasquez and Curren Price, moved to our community to make a career out of our struggles. I have 16 years of experience organizing to bring justice to the working-class people who live in CD9. Historically, the council members representing our district have ignored the voices of working class people and favored developers. My campaign is uplifting the voices and experiences of the working class. Also, I truly embody the District 9 demographic: majority renter, Latino, female, and the average age is 29. Unfortunately, my generation has no voice on the City Council, as the average age is 55.

WHO DO YOU HOPE IS THE NEXT LA MAYOR? 

I’m supporting Gina Viola for Mayor and Karen Bass if Gina doesn’t make it to the run-off. I support Gina because she has a strong record of using her white privilege to uplift the voices of black, brown and Asian people in our community. Gina’s platform is centered around people first, prioritizing the working class and those left behind by their city council members. Karen Bass has been in elected office for a while now, and unfortunately, she is currently dismissing the voice of young local activists like myself who are running for office. Her policies reflect the needs of the people who always get heard and not the working class. However, we have Rick Caruso running against her, and we would rather have Karen than Caruso, [who is] a developer disconnected from people living in poverty.

CD9 HAS THE HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF THE 15 CITY DISTRICTS, HOW CAN YOU HELP? 

When elected, I will bring the first Labor Resource Center to District 9. It would be an entrepreneurial center with programs for residents and small businesses to develop their skills, learn labor rights and prepare for competitive financial opportunities. Unfortunately, 80 percent of employees working with the City of Los Angeles live outside of Los Angeles. I will also ensure that we strengthen the local hiring program to ensure CD9 folks become included in the recruitment of city jobs. 

DO YOU BELIEVE POLICE REFORM IS NECESSARY?

I firmly believe we need a new public safety system as the current one is rooted in racism. Despite taking most of the city budget, the Los Angeles Police Department has failed to protect people of color. Therefore, we must create conditions and environments where the basic needs of our community members are met by funding programs that provide community care and crime prevention. We must also re-imagine how our police forces interact with people and their purpose. To accomplish this, we must establish and fund the city’s first Crisis Intervention Team, composed of social workers and mental health and psychiatric experts to de-escalate mental health related incidents. Expand and fund mental health and wellness centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and programs to support domestic violence victims. Invest in alternative safety programs to promote community healing and restorative justice practices to crimes.

LOS ANGELES IS HOME TO SOME OF THE HIGHEST RENTAL COSTS IN THE NATION, HOW CAN YOU SECURE AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR YOUR RESIDENTS?

The city’s housing crisis is attached to poverty wages, pay-to-play bribes to City Council, inflated housing market, gentrification and inequitable city planning. An essential part of the solution is creating policies that protect and support renters to prevent becoming un-housed. Some crucial programs to expand and invest in include, home-ownership guidance, establishing community land trusts and ensuring affordable housing for local working class residents. Further, we need to prioritize long-term, low-cost housing for families and people in unstable housing. We need a moratorium on non-affordable development that increases rent and pushes out residents. Invest in community land trusts to support residents to become homeowners. Rent based on income and inclusive programs for immigrants. Provide all renters information on their housing rights.

CD9 RESTS NEAR SKID ROW. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO HELP THE HOMELESS?

City council members have the discretion to deal with the homelessness crisis in their district. Every day, an average of four people die in Los Angeles. First, I would declare homelessness a citywide humanitarian emergency crisis to provide immediate support to everyone on the streets. In CD9, I would work with L.A. county, state [and the school district] and federal representatives to launch a housing resource center that provides a dignified approach to support services. This facility would be a place where folks can access housing, social workers, a public shower, bathroom, mail room, pantry, community closet, community fridge and workforce programs. Further, I would partner with all local higher education institutions to connect people facing homelessness to career development programs that can help people sharpen up their education to get a good-paying job with a living wage. An essential component of the solution is to work with the state to do rent control legislation to protect renters, prevent displacements and fasten building real affordable housing.

Brenda Fernanda Verano

Brenda Fernanda Verano is a journalist from South Central LA. At Caló News, Verano covers social justice, health care, and education. She is a senior at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and...