Meet Arturo Carmona
Arturo Carmona is the son of Mexican immigrants and one of the nation’s leading voices for progressive change. Raised in a working-class family, Arturo understands the urgency of restoring economic and political power to middle and working-class families.
In the summer of 2015, Arturo joined Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and went on to become its National Deputy Political Director. With his team, he helped build the largest and most diverse political movement in modern American history.
Arturo has been an advocate for social justice his entire professional career. He was instrumental in organizing and professionalizing the Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM), one of the country’s largest and most effective immigrant self-help and civic engagement groups. He served as the executive director of Presente.org, a highly effective and groundbreaking progressive online advocacy organization. At Presente.org, Arturo organized national campaigns for immigrant and civil rights, ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and holding corporations and politicians accountable to the people.
Arturo is running for Congress to be a voice for grassroots change in Washington D.C. and the Democratic Party. He believes the Democratic establishment has lost its way by becoming addicted to political donations from the billionaire class, major corporations, and special interests. That’s why Arturo’s campaign is fueled by small donations from individuals –not special interests.
Arturo cares about empowering people, and he believes there’s no better place to continue Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution than in Los Angeles’ most progressive and diverse communities. He will be proud to serve the people of the 34th District and speak truth to power in the U.S. Congress.
Inspired by his family and community
Arturo was in high school when California passed Proposition 187, an unprecedented anti-immigrant ballot measure that sought to prevent undocumented immigrants from accessing basic social services, health care, and public education. As the son of Mexican immigrants raised primarily in Los Angeles, he knew how hard his parents worked to provide a prosperous future for him and his siblings despite limited economic prospects and lack of access to good schools or health care.
That year, Arturo took a leading role in organizing massive high school walkouts to protest growing anti-immigrant sentiment. His parents noticed and supported his growing interest in politics. Two years later, when his father asked if he wanted to get on a bus to Washington DC to march with immigrant and working families, Arturo jumped at the chance. He often tells this story:
Organizing and empowering everyday people
Arturo began his college career as an engineering student at Cal Poly Pomona, but shifted his major to Political Science to follow his calling to work for social change.
After graduating, Arturo earned the prestigious Assembly Fellowship in the California State Legislature. He was then hired by the late progressive legislator Marco Antonio Firebaugh. In the Assembly, he worked on multiple pieces of state legislation including a policy initiative that would later evolve into “The Dream Act” nationally. Arturo went on to work as a special assistant to legendary civil rights lawyer Antonia Hernandez at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Over the years, Arturo built strong relationships with Hometown Associations, a broad network of self-help groups focused on making a difference in the US and in their towns of origin. Arturo recognized the power of these groups and the potential for social change if hundreds of groups representing tens of thousands of immigrants in the region could be brought together. While continuing his work at MALDEF during the day, Arturo spent long hours at night meetings with different immigrant clubs convincing them to build a broad grassroots coalition together.
Arturo’s vision became a reality and the Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM) was formed. Under Arturo’s leadership, COFEM became a leading voice for Mexican immigrants in California.
Today, COFEM sponsors dozens of events and provides vital community services in the Los Angeles immigrant community. COFEM organizes a yearly college scholarship program for Dreamers, helps send medical supplies to members’ hometowns, trains local community leaders to become effective organizers, and advocates for policies that benefit immigrant families including humane immigration policies. COFEM has become a vital part of California’s political and social landscape.
After successfully organizing immigrant families at COFEM, Arturo turned his attention to empowering millennials. Arturo joined Presente.org – a progressive Latino digital organization – as its new executive director.
At Presente.org, Arturo organized politically aware young people around issues ranging from fighting the growing menace of white supremacy to educating their audience about Big Energy and Big Oil’s role in exacerbating climate change. Presente.org’s tactics were innovative and effective. They created calls to action through emails, social networks, text messages, coordinating on-the-ground events, running merchandise giveaways, organizing house parties, etc.
Under Arturo’s leadership, Presente.org was an aggressive and effective change agent. The organization played a major role in forcing the Obama Administration to stop deportations and implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Presente helped stop anti-solar legislation sponsored by big utility companies, and advanced progressive policies to combat Climate Change in California. They lobbied for stronger laws to regulate payday lenders, challenging the political power of predatory financial companies.
Feeling the Bern and speaking truth to power
As the Democratic Presidential Primary began to take shape, Arturo recognized that the Democratic establishment had already picked a candidate and that the progressive issues he cared about were being swept under the rug. The only real challenge to the establishment was the Bernie Sanders campaign. In the summer of 2015, Arturo dropped everything to join Bernie’s campaign, leaving his job and spending time away from his family because he believed in the political revolution. At the time, Bernie was at 5% in the polls and many questioned Arturo’s judgment. Every pundit and politician said the campaign was doomed to irrelevance. Nobody thought it would make it past Iowa. But as a lifelong organizer, Arturo knew what could happen if enough people joined together with a shared vision.
Senator Sanders’ message was bold and unfiltered. He spoke against the ruinous influence that Wall Street and the billionaire class is having on our government institutions, the Democratic Party, and establishment politicians. He spoke against income inequality, for the civil rights of all communities, against mass incarceration, for immigration reform, single-payer health care, and immediate action to prevent climate change. Bernie Sanders was the progressive voice millions of Americans had been waiting for, and Arturo saw the opportunity to build a real movement that would transcend beyond electoral politics.
Arturo was later named Deputy Political Director and put in charge of organizing the so-called New American majority–people of color, millennials, working families, and the LGBT community. He met with people, discussed the importance of civic and political participation, and the Sanders’ coalition grew and grew. Bernie Sanders was speaking truth to power, and the people were enthralled by his courageous political stances.
Bernie Sander’s Political Revolution became the largest and most energetic grassroots political movement in modern American history.
Although establishment Democrats continued to put structural obstacles in the way of Senator Sanders’ political revolution, the crowds at his rallies were unprecedented. Senator Sanders began to win upset victories in state after state, summing up to 22 states nationally. The movement that emerged behind the Sanders campaign continues to reshape the Democratic party and American politics.
The results of the November Election were a shock to many. But the truth is that establishment Democrats failed to inspire millions of Americans and too many of them stayed home. If two more voters per precinct in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania had turned out, Donald Trump would not be President today.
When Congressman Xavier Becerra was appointed California Attorney General, his seat for Congress became open. This is Arturo’s home district, and he knew it was his responsibility to step up and run for elected office.