By Shannon Rapose
Kern Valley Sun
On Saturday, Feb. 3, Tatiana Matta, a Democratic Candidate for the 23rd Congressional District, came to a local Meet and Greet at Ernie and Vera Anderson’s home in Kernville with the hope of gaining some local insight and perspective on the issues that are important to constituents that live in the Kern River Valley.
The event started with Matta telling a few stories about her life, which she hoped would show where she is coming from.
Matta was born in Puerto Rico and raised by a single mother, who was a local schoolteacher. When she was in third grade, Matta and her mother moved to Delaware without knowing any English, and with very few possessions, in hopes of a better life. Though she had been a schoolteacher in Puerto Rico, Matta’s mother had a difficult time finding gainful employment, taking on two jobs to keep them afloat. Determined to ensure that her daughter succeeded, Matta’s mother encouraged her to attend literacy programs, and as a result, Matta tested into the English speaking classes within the year, an achievement she was very proud of.
Eventually, Matta and her mother returned to Puerto Rico where she graduated from high school and attended the University of Puerto Rico, receiving a degree in criminal justice. There was a class on women’s rights to vote that she said was very inspiring and empowering to her.
Life moved right along for Matta, she got married, had a son whom she named Kevin, and was divorced a few years later. Matta eventually married Eugenio Matta, a bio-environment engineer, and they have lived on Edwards Air Force Base for the past two years with Kevin.
Being a military spouse, Matta has been heavily involved in advocating for military families and veterans. She also owns her own consulting business that has worked with non-profits and other political candidates. Most notably, Matta was the co-chair of the veterans and military families committee for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley during his presidential campaign run in 2016.
Matta hadn’t really considered running for office until she was sitting on a panel in San Diego when after a presentation, a woman approached her for advice about running for office. After discussing what it takes, Matta soon realized that she wanted to take on the challenge and make a difference in her local community. On August 20 of last year, she filed the paperwork to become a legitimate Democratic candidate for the 23rd Congressional District, running against House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the 2018 election.
Matta said she is aware of the battle that lies ahead in order to defeat McCarthy, but she thinks it can be done.
“It will be a hard battle, I am not going to lie. The numbers are hard, but it’s not impossible,” she said. “This race is important. We need to win, and we need to build relationships and coalitions in order to do that.”
At that point, Matta asked those present to share two issues that were important to them so that she could learn how to better represent the constituents of the 23rd District in the Kern River Valley.
Matta listened attentively as the microphone made its way around the crowd. A few individuals even broke down into tears as they expressed their frustrations about the current political situation and why the issues they voiced were important to them.
Reoccurring core issues that came up were focused on the environment, health care, education, immigration and concerns for the country’s democracy system being so divided in its current state.
After the mic had made its way back around, Matta went on to talk about her stance on some of the main issues. She expressed that education is an important issue to her because her mother was a schoolteacher and she has seen first-hand how having adequate resources and funds for a school affects the community it serves. Which is why she hopes to fight and make changes to the education system on a federal level so that communities have a chance to build themselves up.
“Anything I can to do to help and support the education system, I’ll be there,” she said.
On immigration, she revisited the story about being a young girl coming from Puerto Rico and not having a say in where they were going and being scared about what the future held. Matta feels for the predicament that the Dreamers find themselves in, facing an unknown future.
“I know those Dreamers right now are scared for their future, but they shouldn’t be. Because they have people like us that are going to fight for them,” she said. “But we need to get elected.”
She also went on to state that she is a fierce proponent for comprehensive immigration reform with pathways to citizenship and her hope of being an accurate representative of what the 23rd Congressional District actually looks like.
Matta went on to talk about how her main platform issues all center around uniting and building communities.
“I’m trying to build relationships because we need each other and we can’t move ahead without uniting,” said Matta. “I want to know how, as a representative, I can do more.”
To learn more about Tatiana Matta and her platform for running for the 23rd Congressional District seat or to volunteer time or donate to her campaign, visit her site tatianamatta.com or follow her page on Facebook.