North Carolina Delegate to Encourage Political Clout Among Hispanics at DNC

A worker crosses the main stage at Time Warner Cable Arena during the public unveiling of Democratic National Convention's facilities in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

A worker crosses the main stage at Time Warner Cable Arena during the public unveiling of Democratic National Convention's facilities in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)  (AP2012)

Matty Lazo-Chadderton is one of the nine Hispanic delegates representing the host state, North Carolina, at the DNC Convention in Charlotte.

Lazo-Chadderton, said that this is her second time as a delegate at the convention. She was a delegate, eight years ago, in Boston, but says this year is a bit different.In 2012, her responsibility on behalf of the Hispanic community is more significant, in part because the newest Census figures have given Hispanics the presence to demand a seat at the table.

 “We are not numbers anymore, we are officially part of the fabric of this great nation,” she said.

The single mother of two boys, moved from the Dominican Republic to North Carolina in 1987, in search of better services for her son David, who has autism.

Soon after moving to the Tar Heel state, she became involved in disability advocacy organizations in the state, lobbying on behalf of special education and early intervention programs and policies, but soon learned that she had to first become a U.S. citizen to get the most out of her communications with state legislators.  

Mission accomplished, the newly naturalized U.S. citizen started her career in politics as the first Hispanic-American woman lobbyist for the NC General Assembly for Educational Issues and for English Language Learners (ELL) in 1999.

Combining politics and motherhood was never an easy task, but she didn’t let that – or her limited knowledge of the English-language stop her. She felt it was her responsibility as a U.S. citizen to tirelessly work toward helping to quantify and mobilize the Latino political base and to promote inclusion of all citizens at the political table.

For a decade, she served as one of Democratic leader, Senator Marc Basnight's, top tier employees, before Republicans displaced the Democrats in the NC Senate for the first time in 130 years in 2011.

She was Senator Basnight's Director of Hispanic/Latino Affairs, when she was asked to serve as Democratic Party precinct chair in 2000.

As founding member and co-chair of the Hispanic Democrats of North Carolina, she pulled together the first “listening sessions,” with Hispanic voters and candidates statewide in 2000. Building on that momentum she led the charge in duplicating those efforts and lobbying for the addition of “Hispanic/Latino” to the state election ballots during the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections that followed.

Though a loyal Democrat, Lazo-Chadderton has encouraged informed voting habits by proactively building relationships in the right places – on both sides of the aisle.

As a result, last year, in a move that sent shock waves across North Carolina, Republican Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) hired her help redraw the Senate districts used to elect lawmakers for the next ten years.

With the latest influx of Latino immigrants, community organizers and political activists, like Matty, have made significant strides toward securing access to education, workplace safety, access to health care, and economic stability. But Latino involvement in state and local politics pales in comparison to their accomplishments in these other areas.

That is why, Lazo-Chadderton, feels that Hispanic representation in this election, is more important than in year’s past.

“I would like to see more representation of Hispanic appointed officials and candidates at the local and state levels,” she said. She feels that this kind of diversity is important in building a stronger political foundation for years to come, “In 8 years, after the 2020 Census, we could have an American Latino majority minority, like we have in other states in the Union,” she added.

On Sunday, she will drive the 3 hours south from Raleigh, to Charlotte and will reunite with her convention “roommate,” long-time friend and mentor, North Carolina Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall.

Her schedule is sprinkled with networking events and parties, daily working breakfast and caucus meetings, but, perhaps, the thing that she is looking forward to most is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s talk on Sept. 4.  “I am going to cry. As a proud mother of two young men, knowing that Mayor Castro (raised by a single mother) can reach the stars is inspiring,” she said.

She is also eager to watch President Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday. She says, “For this I am going to prepare myself with meditation, so I can absorb every word.”

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