From our earliest brainstorming meetings, we always knew the Nevada politician Lucy Flores was "totally Lenny" and a woman we wanted the rest of the world to meet. Lucy, who is currently running for Congress in Nevada's fourth district, is a most vibrant example of how the personal is the political. She's a Hispanic woman who grew up in a family of 13 children. Their mom left when she was nine, and Lucy subsequently dropped out of high school, joined gangs, committed petty crimes, went to jail, and saw each one of her six sisters get pregnant as a teen, before she got pregnant herself. But Lucy would not allow herself to fall prey to low expectations for her future: she had an abortion, got her GED, went to college then law school, and then she was elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 2010, when she was just 31 years old.
As an assemblywoman, she fought for domestic-violence victims so they would have the right to break leases with their abusive partners and advocated for early-childhood education. She also established a PAC to help more Hispanic people run for political office. Her main concern as she heads into the next election is the rampant economic inequality that threatens to keep so many Americans, but immigrant families especially, from success. She was battling for an increased health-education bill on the Assembly floor when she revealed she had had an abortion at 16, and that she got pregnant because of the lack of sex education at her school. The death threats that inevitably followed did not deter her. On social-media channels, her supporters started calling her #FierceFlores.
When Lucy and I spoke over the phone one Friday morning, it felt like I was talking to a friend. She's warm and funny, and her resolve is undeniable. We talked about her family, her goals, and why not giving up when the odds are stacked against you is about more than just your own success.
Laia Garcia: I want to know a little bit more about your relationship with your dad, since I know the two of you are very close, and I've heard you like to sing mariachi songs together.
Lucy Flores: Well, you know, we are a very nontraditional family. There's a lot of brothers and sisters, and some are closer than others. We don't necessarily have those Christmases, holidays, and birthdays when the entire family gets together. We've all experienced a lot of challenges, and because of that, we haven't necessarily kept that strong family unit.
My dad and I, we're very, very close, and he's has always supported me one thousand percent in the things that I do, but at the same time, my dad struggled. He had to be almost detached in order to focus on making sure that we had all of the things that we needed. You know, the basic things: food, housing, clothes. He worked day and night, literally, almost his entire life.
He struggles to understand what I do, the sacrifices that I make in order to serve. Sometimes, he wonders why I'm not at home and can't visit as often as he would like me to because I'm off campaigning or whatever it is that I'm doing.
It's been interesting. He's got a third-grade education. He's really smart, and I try to explain exactly what I do and how government functions and the intricacies and the challenges of it all.He's incredibly proud of me, but it's just hard to relate.
LG: So many young women have to get their abortions in secret. Did your family know when you got one as a teen? Were they supportive?