Yamhill County Democrats make history with change in leadership
Providing significant representation for a growing community in Yamhill County and making statewide history in the process, a pair of young political leaders are taking the reins of the Yamhill County Democrats.
Omar Sandoval, 22, and Gustavo Guerrero, 24, are the youngest chairman and vice-chairman of a county Democratic Party in Oregon and are the first Latinos in state history to hold both positions.
"Serving in my capacity as the former vice-chair of YCD, it is a true honor to be elected to serve as your chair during such a critical election year," Sandoval said in a news release. "I look forward to engaging youth voters and creating a space where Democrats of all backgrounds can be looped in and contributing to a diverse Democratic Party.
"As a young Latino, I will not take the YCD's faith in me for granted, I want to continue to expand on the great work that the chairs before me started, and continue to work with underrepresented communities who are continuously overlooked by our system."
Sandoval was born in McMinnville and grew up in Dayton. His mother took him to Democratic Party meetings when he was a kid, and although he said he had no idea what was going on at first, he quickly gained an interest in politics and organizing. After a handful of organizing jobs around Oregon and California, Sandoval linked up with state Democratic leaders and got involved with the party in the past year.
Sandoval served as vice-chairman before taking on the responsibility of interim chairman following the resignation of the previous person in the position. He said diversity is important in leadership, and he aims to address issues that affect all residents of Yamhill County, particularly those of underrepresented backgrounds.
"Being the only chair of color in such a large state saddens me, and I hope to work with other counties across the state in ensuring our membership and leadership roles reflect the diversity we hold dearly in Oregon," Sandoval said. "My hope is that other young people in the (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community will see this and be inspired to run for these kinds of positions or for office. Knowing that there are people out there who have been able to get elected shows them that it is possible."
Guerrero is a formerly undocumented immigrant who has fiercely advocated for equity and representation for Latino people and the BIPOC community in general. His nomination to the vice-chairman position comes as a second dose of crucial representation for the Latino community, which is the second-largest ethnic group in Yamhill County by a significant margin.
"It is not enough to have leaders that share a skin tone or speak the same language, and it is not enough to portray the image of change, we need to embody it," Guerrero said in the news release. "Our parties need leaders who will fight unapologetically to provide a platform for disenfranchised communities. As YCDs' vice-chair, I will work with our chair and other members to further diversify the party and our marketplace of ideas by creating an inclusive space for all minority and underrepresented communities.
"I look forward to activating and empowering youth voters and new voters alike. No voice is too small, no barrier too high. I am humbled and honored to serve as YCDs' vice-chair during this critical election year."
For more information on the Yamhill County Democrats and how to get involved, visit their website at ycdemocrats.org. The next Central Committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, with registration information available on the party's website as well.
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