Sunday, December 24, 2017

Blue America Endorses Antoinette Sedillo Lopez for Congress (NM-01)


New Mexico’s first congressional district— basically Albuquerque— is nice and blue and it’s not going to fall into Republican hands any time soon. Hillary beat Trump 51.6% to 35.1% and the PVI is D+7. The Congressmmeber, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is leaving hereat to run for governor. She’s garden variety Democrat, not terrible, but nothing to write him about. There’s an opportunity for a serious upgrade by electing Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, who we’ve talked about here before. I asked here to introduce herself with a guest post about the Economic Justice clinic she founded in Albuquerque, below.

Predatory Institutions-- Another Barrier to Overcome
-by Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Candidate for Congress, NM-01

Unfettered financial institutions are a threat to working people and the poor. People in poverty are extremely vulnerable to economic exploitation. And this happens at all levels. Too many working people here in New Mexico live in poverty. Exploitation by predatory lenders has been on the rise here, and too many are trapped in a cycle of debt. As a clinical teacher and as an executive director of a domestic violence agency, I’ve met with many folks who were trapped in payday or title loan agreements, who had already paid two or three times the amount of debt but who were being hounded by a creditor.

I will never forget the woman who borrowed $300 for her daughter’s cheerleader uniform who had already paid over $1,000 dollars on the debt in payments of interest and fees as she kept renewing the loan. After two years of payments, she still owed $300 on the loan. She came into our Economic Justice clinic to ask about bankruptcy because this debt had put her behind on other debts she had, including  health care bills. This woman was technically “judgment proof” which means that she did not have enough income or assets so that a creditor could legally garnish her wages or take away her personal property. However, she was living in distress with the constant hounding by creditors and she wanted it to stop.

This story, out of the many stories of people who are exploited by excessive interest rates and fees charged by payday lenders, title lenders or other financial institutions, are why I am running for Congress. Stories of parents doing regular things in their daily lives but being exploited by a broken financial system have devastated people here in New Mexico.

The story of a mother buying her daughter a cheerleading uniform resonates with me because of how innocuous it is-- it’s merely a parent wanting her child a chance to participate. I know what it means to strive to achieve goals that seem beyond your reach. And, it starts in school. When you want to participate and to achieve. When you achieve one goal, it makes achieving the next one easier. Being a cheerleader builds your confidence. An aspect of social justice is that everyone should have access to opportunity and on an even playing field.   Economic justice means that our economic institutions should not exploit or punish people because of their economic status. Both of those principles were violated by what happened to our former client and her daughter. The cost of the cheerleader uniform was a barrier to this teenager’s aspiration. And, this was compounded by the exploitation of their economic status by the high fees and interest rates charged by a payday lender.

Under the current leadership of this country, basic ideas of social and economic justice are meaningless. The goal of this administration is to create a stronger oligarchy where the wealthy and privileged control our government and institutions, and they alone have opportunity to achieve. That is not who we are as a country. I am running for Congress as a strong progressive because I believe that our system is broken and that everywhere we look people are being exploited. Whether it be financial institutions, corporations not paying a living wage, or our skyrocketing healthcare costs, its everyday people and working people that have fallen victim to this broken system designed merely to exploit.

Goal ThermometerI have always fought for social and economic justice; I’ve fought to empower the voiceless. I fought the failures of our criminal justice system by creating an Innocence & Justice project here in New Mexico. And when New Mexico’s families were losing their homes, we instituted an Economic Justice clinic to fight back. I’m running for Congress because I believe we can do better by that mother looking to merely buy her daughter a cheerleading uniform. I’m running because I believe they deserve a fighting chance. With the the human and natural resources we have in this country, we can achieve social and economic justice for all. And, I along with other social justice warriors are fighting to create a government that works for everyone, and not just those at the top. We can and we will. Si se puede.

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At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

um.. Antoinette.. you seem like a pleasant enough person. How are you going to get Pelosi, hoyer, scummer et al to give back the billions that those predatory institutions have "donated" to these party bosses?

Yeah, we know they're predatory and must be destroyed. But do we have to wait for Pelosi, hoyer, scummer et al to die? How many more are lined up behind them that we have to wait to die?

How about you run as an I and give your voters a real chance to make a useful statement, instead of "here you go nancy, take this vote and betray us in spite of it again".

At 5:00 AM, Blogger mogul said...

Good question!


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