May 18, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

First Out Gay Immigrant Running For California State Assembly

Godfrey Santos Plata is the first out gay immigrant ever to run for California State Assembly for Assembly District 53. 

Plata is running against six-year incumbent Miguel Santiago and although he is unlikely to win against Santiago his campaign produced the most competitive race for Assembly District 53 in eight years.

Plata would’ve been the first out gay immigrant and the only renter among the 80 elected officials to hold a seat in the California State Assembly. Despite the odds against Plata, a progressive running from the left of Santiago, the tight race shows that incumbents like Santiago are vulnerable to the progressive wave sweeping across the nation.

For many of the people in Assembly District 53, Plata’s candidacy was a fresh start from their incumbent. Plata ran a grassroots, renter-focused campaign from his Koreatown apartment with less than one-fifth of Santiago’s funding. He and his volunteers engaged deeply with the community, knocking on doors from 2019 to the start of the pandemic shutdown, and spending hours phone and text banking once the pandemic started. His mission to seek justice for constituents underrepresented in policy-making — renters, workers, immigrants, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and LGBTQ communities — across sectors like public education, the criminal legal system, housing, and labor, resonated deeply with almost 40,000 community members and counting.

“Historically, the 53rd district has the fourth-lowest voter turnout in the state, and today was the closest race the district has seen since before 2012. By engaging with residents one-on-one, we’ve been able to build community members’ expectations for their State Assembly. Though this election cycle might’ve not been a victory for us, our community is getting smarter about the specific powers of state legislators and are raising the bar for the types of  leaders they want representing them,” said Plata.

Plata and his volunteers celebrate their work and grassroots effort, knowing well that they’ve made significant long-term strides in progressive politics. In a debrief to his campaign team, Plata offered himself as a resource for those who are thinking about running for office or plan to organize in the future, hoping to share his lessons learned from his own campaign.

“Godfrey and the team are people who have been doing work to benefit the community before this election. Godfrey’s commitment to his students, being a renter, and his understanding of the major issues that affect tenants was a reason why I decided to volunteer. We need people who care and have lived experiences like ours, and Godfrey is someone who could represent the working-class and tenants of all backgrounds,” said Jacqueline Hernandez, a volunteer from Plata’s campaign.

Plata was endorsed by Run for Something, Sunrise Movement LA, Our Revolution LA, LA Podcast, Health Care for All – Los Angeles Chapter, and Samahang Pilipino, just to name a few.

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