WESLACO, July 25 - Two of the up-and-coming leaders in the RGV Equal Voice Network say they are grateful for the support former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh is showing their group.
Annabel Salamanca and Daniel Diaz said Shapleigh is an inspiring speaker who has made them think about running for elected office. Equal Voice is considering setting up a Candidate School similar to the one Shapleigh started in El Paso.
“As Youth Organizer with LUPE I was invited to Equal Voice Retreat on Friday and found it to be a very special treat, especially Senator Shapleigh from El Paso being our keynote speaker for the day. He was very entertaining but most importantly, inspiring. Mr. Shapleigh has a real passion for his community and every day struggles,” Salamanca told the Guardian.
“During his presentation the Senator said multiple things that made me consider the possibility of one day running for an elected government position. For example, while discussing how he motivates others to engage in political campaigns he said something along the lines of ‘Do you have courage? Show us!’ I found those words to be powerful and inviting to simply start a campaign and inspire others to execute their power of voting.
“Senator Shapleigh’s words made me believe that in fact, any ordinary person can create change no matter their economic or social background. One must not be a white non-egalitarian MAN to hold political power and create the change our communities are in dire need of.”
Diaz offered a similar view of Shapleigh and his support for Equal Voice.
“It was very inspiring to listen to a political figure be very connected with everyday people and the grassroots. He provided me motivation that we can win on social change by mobilizing and organizing everyday people into political action to have government work better for all of us,” Diaz said.
“I also felt inspired because I felt that he told some of us to take a bold and important leap into challenging the status quo by running for office. I've always felt that many talented individuals, and individuals with the right type of thinking have been discouraged from running, perhaps because of the lack of money, or maybe because they're too young/inexperienced, or maybe because they're not yet connected politically, or perhaps because it's been fixed on us that its only for attorneys and very rich businessman.
“Senator Shapleigh made me feel that there are many of us out there that can take this important step in politics because at the end of the day we are all affected by it, therefore political leadership should be a competitive race of young and old, rich and the lower-income, and people from all types of backgrounds and professions.”