CU Employee and Advocate Shares Experience as a Party Delegate

L-R: Fiona Ma, State Treasurer of California, and Gustavo Navarro, Member Service Representative III for Orange County's CU
L-R: Fiona Ma, State Treasurer of California, and Gustavo Navarro, Member Service Representative III for Orange County's CU

Sometimes political advocacy in credit unions is “local, local, local”—or at least it begins that way.

The California Credit Union League’s advocacy staff had a chance to catch up with Gustavo Navarro about being a delegate to the California Democratic Party State Convention. Navarro is a member service representative III for Orange County's CU.

His perspective gives insight into what it means to start advocating for the credit union movement early and often, and in a unique space:

What does it mean to be a California delegate?
For me, a delegate is willing to take on the responsibility and the accountability to represent his or her specific district. For example, I am a Democratic State Party Delegate for the 69th Assembly District, which includes Orange, Santa Ana, parts of Anaheim, and Garden Grove.

As a delegate, I attend the Democratic Party State Conventions, network with other Democrats, elect party officers, promote the California Democratic Party platform, endorse candidates for statewide, legislative and congressional office, and vote to endorse resolutions and ballot measures—all doing so while representing the constituents in my district. Delegate terms are two years with no term limits.

How did you become a delegate, and what was the process? What have you accomplished?
Initially I had no plans on becoming a delegate. I didn’t know what a “delegate” is. I started volunteering for a local candidate who was running for Fullerton City Council—Ahmad Zahra. I helped him with his campaign and his school supply drive charity project. I learned about the responsibilities and civic duties a delegate has throughout this process of being involved and decided to go for it.

Elections are every two years, so I applied for this cycle and joined with other candidates to form a slate. There are seven elected men and seven elected women in each district and in my race (the 69th district). I joined with a total of 14 candidates to form The Progressive Slate. There was another rival slate also running and other candidates running individually. I campaigned, presented my campaign statement on the day of the election, and rallied many of my supporters to come out and vote for me. I was elected one of 14 candidates out of a total of more than 50 candidates.

So far, I have attended the state convention, cast my vote for state party chair, joined some caucuses, and met with many elected officials, including our State Treasurer Fiona Ma and State Controller Betty Yee—and some of the many presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.

What was the main purpose of the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention? What did you do there, and why?
The Democratic Party Convention happens once a year. It is the place where the party votes on resolutions, legislation, and endorsements of candidates. For this particular convention, it was the election of the party chair and the introduction of some of the Democratic presidential candidates.

This year there will be two conventions, the second being in November 2019 hosted in Long Beach. This is due to California moving its primary election to March. Therefore, we will be voting for presidential candidate party endorsements in November.

What’s next for you?
My main goal is to find opportunities for public service and more involvement in the political process so I may advocate for some of the things that matter to all of us.

Any last thoughts or comments that you would like to share with fellow credit union leaders?
We have to be involved in every level of the political process, from our local city councils to the highest office in our state. This is the only way we can advocate for our working families and small businesses to ultimately make a positive impact in our communities.

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