In The News
JoCasta preaches success on election trail
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Milwaukee Labor Press
Posted July 30, 2012
As the first Latina in the Madison legislature, JoCasta Zamarippa ran into the buzzsaw of GOP obstinacy to any forward progress in 2011 and acquitted herself with remarkable grace, offering intelligent amendments and arguments. Then she joined the successful fight that kept the GOP redistricting from taking away the Latino majority in her Assembly 8 district, thanks to a federal court decision.
Optimism in the face of opposition is now the theme of her re-election campaign. She constantly reminds voters not to be downhearted by losses but think of the notable blocking moves along with clear wins.
"Don't let them tell you the GOP succeeded at redistricting," she says at campaign rallies. "They didn't. Federal judges threw out the maps in our district. The most repressive voter ID bill in the country has been blocked by a federal court. The effort to duplicate Arizona's immigration law in Wisconsin didn't go anywhere. So don't be disheartened. The fight will turn the tide."
Of late, the media has made hay of Zamarippa’s public announcement of something long known – that personally she is bisexual. She has always been outspoken in support of central LBGT causes (the "Lesbian/Bisexual/Gay/Transgender” community).
She has talked about how she resisted “coming out” in 2010 as a political newcomer, not sure how such honesty would play. But in 2012 with a track record of ability, circumstances changed – and along with that came a growing concern that she must serve as an example to young people who need to see how others with similar problems can succeed.
“People expect public officials to show honesty,” she said, so now she is speaking out when asked. It is not just the candor, it is the open discussion of a reality -- how society can still put pressure on issues of sexual preference.
Much of August 14, a so-called “primary” that in Milwaukee actually decides nine legislative seats where only Democrats face Democrats, seems to be coming down to honesty and openness. Zamarippa’s race reflects how a growing Latino community is expected to demonstrate its voice at the polling place, an avenue toward progress that the Latino community has been slow to embrace. Much of the election will test in many races whether young progressive voices have developed enough clout to change status quo beliefs and outdated thinking.
Aside from determination under fire, Zamarippa on issues and experience is regarded as a shoo-in to win a second term, particularly since this is a replay of the first time. Laura Manriquez's opposition platform is largely a pale echo of what didn’t gain traction in 2010 and what many now regard as a stubborn personal fight against Zamarippa's ascendance.