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Cindy Vara-Leija: Political Activism, Great-Grandma Style

The following is from a series of guest posts that I will be presenting over the next few weeks.

Cindy Vara-Leija

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, a mother of six would take her youngest children along as she set up her folding table and chair outside her local grocery store. She was there, as was the standard of the time, to sell poll taxes to her friends and neighbors. More importantly, she was there to make sure that her friends and neighbors understood, in whatever language they spoke, the importance of paying the poll tax so that despite this obvious attempt to keep them from exercising their Constitutional right to vote they were able to cast their ballots and make their voices heard.

Throughout her adult life, she also served as a poll worker, an officer in the Denver Harbor Civic Club, a volunteer with her local Garden Club, a PTA/VIPS volunteer with her local public schools, a founding member of the Reata Committee (which later evolved into the Go Tejano Committee), a member of the Catholic Daughters, and a member of other various community organizations.

This woman was a prime example of political activism in her day, someone who was willing to give of her time, and that of her family, in order to make her community a better place. I’d also say that this woman is a prime example of the political activism that we need today, someone who is willing to, as she’d say, leave a place better off than how she found it.

This woman, my mother, will turn 90 years of age in October. If it wasn’t for the effects of the Alzheimer’s disease she was diagnosed with in 2003, she’d probably still be working at the poll on every Election Day and registering people to vote in the months before.

However, she continues to serve her community through the example she set for her six children, her fourteen grandchildren, and her twenty-two great-grandchildren.

Her legacy, though, isn’t and shouldn’t be limited to those of us who call her mom or grandma. It shouldn’t even be limited to those of us who’ve had the privilege to personally know her. It should, as should the legacy of the many community and political activists who came before us, be for entire generations who are now at a crossroads.

As we watch what is happening to our community – the all out attack on women, the attack on public education, the corruption that seems so prevalent in politics and Corporate America – it seems that the example my mother set over fifty years ago of getting involved in your community and participating in the political process should be what we teach our children, and one another, on a daily basis. After all, as mom so eloquently puts it, “Remember to vote always. It costs you nothing, but you can pay dearly if you do not.”

She is indeed an example of the political activism we need now. As the 4th of July comes next week, I’m reminded of her strength and belief in civic duty. I promise to keep up her fight, and as the holiday nears and elections come quickly, I hope you’ll do the same.

Cindy Vara-Leija is a candidate for Constable in Precinct 1 in the Democratic primary runoff.

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5 Comments

  1. Bill K says:

    I received a phone call from the Al Rosen campaign stating that Cindy Vara-Leija has in essence withdrawn from the campaign and has endosed Al Rosen. Is this true? I was only half listening to the call as it was being recored on my phone and I erased it before I thought to replay so I may have misheard, or there may have been some vague language I missed. But has Ms Vara-Leija withdrawn and endorsed Rosen?

  2. Bill – Far as I know, Cindy is running and actively campaigning in the runoff.

  3. Chrissy Rausch says:

    Love this blog! Proud to say I’m a part of this family. VOTE CINDY VARA-LEIJA!!!

  4. Angela Mendez says:

    She is still running, Bill. She has not withdrawn from the campaign or endorsed Rosen. Hope this helps! I also hope you misheard and the Rosen is not saying that in their phone calls.

  5. Angela Mendez says:

    Bill, Cindy has not withdrawn from the campaign or endorsed Rosen. Hope this helps! I also hope the Rosen campaign is not saying this in their phone calls and you simply misheard.