13 Facts About Elizabeth Guzman You Need To Know About This Up-And-Comer
Last week, a freshman Virginia delegate received a call from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It came with the opportunity of a lifetime: Just months into her political career, Elizabeth Guzman had been offered the chance to give a Spanish-language rebuttal to Trump's first State of the Union address. And now, there's a lot that you need to know about Elizabeth Guzman.
After all, this speech will put her directly into national focus — and parties often choose genuine rising stars to give the State of the Union rebuttals. While some have argued that there's a curse hovering over those who give the official party responses, Guzman and the other Democrat tapped to give a response, Rep. Joe Kennedy, will at least get a large and very public platform.
Although Guzman hasn't yet had a chance to be active in national politics, the Democratic Party leadership evidently believed that hers is a voice that can add something to the national conversation, and that she can adequately represent and speak for millions of Spanish-speaking Americans.
“Driven by her faith and her belief in the promise of the American Dream, Elizabeth has been a vital, relentless leader for the voiceless,” said Pelosi about her pick to give the Spanish speech.
Here's a rundown of some of what Guzman brings to the table.
1. She's The First Latina In The VA Legislature
Latinos make up 9 percent of Virginia's population, but Guzman was the first Latina woman to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly.
2. She's A Social Worker
Guzman comes to this opportunity with years of work experience as a social worker and a public administrator. She lists two Masters degrees on her official website — one in Public Administration and one in Social Work.
3. She's Originally From Peru
She hails from the port city of Callao, Peru, where she lived and had her first daughter before emigrating to the U.S.
4. She Has Four Children
She was a single mom when she first got to the U.S. from Peru with her oldest daughter Pamela, and now she and her husband Carlos have had three other children: Ivanna, Hannah, and Carlos Jr.
5. She's One Of The First Immigrant Women In Her Position
Guzman and her fellow delegate Katy Tran, who came from Vietnam as a refugee when she was only a baby, were the first two immigrant women to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
6. She Lives in Dale City, VA
Guzman and her family live in Dale City, which is in Prince William County. They've lived there for 15 years.
7. She Met Her Peruvian Husband In VA
Although her husband Carlos is also from Peru, the two of them met with they were already living in Virginia, Washington Hispanic reports.
8. She's Very Active In Her Community
Guzman says on her website that she's long been a big part of her community in Prince William County, taking part in a local PTO and the leadership of her daughter's Girl Scout troop, among other things. She and her family are also active members of two churches, Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge and Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
9. Her Platform Is Very Progressive
Guzman is passionate about bringing the Democratic Party together, and the face that she wants the party to put forward is most definitely the progressive one. “We cannot be centrist any more,” she told the Huffington Post. “We have to go back to our values.”
As such, she's working hard to represent the working class on multiple fronts, whether it's having to do with healthcare, paid family leave, or raising the minimum wage.
10. She Worked For The Sanders Campaign
Her major motivation to actually run for office was her work on Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, although she had gotten engaged with politics well before that — she also volunteered with the Obama campaign in 2008.
11. She's Giving This Rebuttal Very Early In Her Political Career
Guzman hasn't introduced a bill that's gotten passed, and she hasn't even gotten to vote in a subcommittee — but the Democratic Party clearly already believes that she's on the up and up. She told the Washington Post that while she had the ambition to talk to a bigger audience, she never expected anything like this to come so quickly.
12. She Was Part Of The 2017 Democratic Wave In VA
Guzman has stepped into office as part of a heavily Democratic and very diverse class of Virginia lawmakers, which Democratic leaders hope they can repeat on a larger scale in the 2018 midterms. She's also not alone as a trailblazer in that class — along with the other first Latina to be elected to the Virginia state legislature, they also have the first Lesbian, the first trans woman, the first Asian American woman, and the youngest woman ever elected (who is 33).
13. She's Satisfied With Her Speech — So Far
Guzman has actually already seen the recording of the speech, and so far, she's into it. “It’s a little fire, a little spice in it,” she told the Washington Post. “I’m usually a little feisty when I speak, but this one when I watched it, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I was into it!”
However, she's not without her reservations. “When somebody speaks up or stands up . . . [President Trump is] very mean afterwards,” she said, in the same interview. “So I’m scared about what he’s going to say after it. I just need to be prepared that he’s not going to, you know, belittle me. Whatever he says, I’m prepared.”
There's one thing you can be certain of — even after her response, which will air right after the State of the Union, you'll definitely be hearing more from Elizabeth Guzman.