A year into her second campaign for California’s 29th District, the Valley College alumna says she’s ready to bring resources back to her community.
By Matthew Royer, News Editor
More than a year after her campaign launched, former Valley College student Angelica Dueñas is confident about the road ahead as she prepares for the midterm election on June 7.
Running for U.S. Congress, Dueñas is looking to unseat Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), who has held office for almost a decade. California’s 29th District, the constituency that spans Sylmar to Van Nuys, is also home to Valley, where the grassroots challenger attended before transferring to California State University, Los Angeles. After losing in a tighter than expected race two years ago, Dueñas is ready for a different battle in bringing her people-powered campaign to Capitol Hill.
“Compared to 2020, things are looking great,” said Dueñas. “This year, it’s just Tony [Cárdenas] and I in the race with three republican candidates. With the top-two primary, things are looking solid that it will be Tony and I once again in November. We’re ready to seize the moment in the San Fernando Valley.”
The 2020 election, which coincided with the presidential election that brought the highest turnout in American history, saw Rep. Cárdenas face his closest challenge since the district was established in 2010, as only 13 percent separated him from the mother of five.
With her campaign returning close to its pre-pandemic form, Dueñas states that human interactions will help bring her efforts to the finish line. A change from previous elections is the connections that Dueñas formed along the progressive landscape of Los Angeles. With a shift in the city’s election schedule, the 2022 midterm vote is now being held alongside the municipal elections. This allows congressional campaigns, which would usually be held next to state elections, to directly interact and campaign with candidates for citywide offices, such as mayor or city controller.
“We’ve always wanted to be in a position to support grassroots candidates and campaigns,” said the progressive democrat. “We can highlight people running for office by already having our platforms and experience from running in the past. I feel we can unify grassroots efforts in a way to amplify our efforts. It’s a strategy that should be looked at more widely to bring people-powered candidates into positions of power.”
A delegate and volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020, the former Monarch is not afraid to battle the status quo. Frustrated with what she explains as nepotism that has controlled the San Fernando Valley’s political landscape for “too long,” Dueñas has taken action in her disappointment by running for higher office and has also performed in roles within her community, serving terms as both president and board member on the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council.
“It’s very interesting that here the community is considered a sacrificial zone to too many,” said Dueñas. “People who live here are those who get out there and keep our city moving. We have been left behind for too long and we have to take a look at who has been representing us. There has not been enough change in representation.”
Still active at Valley, Dueñas has been influential in supporting the Women’s Empowerment Club on and off-campus. She has attended events such as the domestic violence workshop and a protest led by ASU members Sandra Sanchez and Kimberly Perez-Solis, advocating for reproductive rights. Stating that the youth has sparked hope and inspiration, Dueñas is grateful that the college still has an impact in her life.
“I’m glad that students are looking towards solutions and thinking long-term,” said Dueñas. “I love coming back to Valley, being able to see the potential of where things are heading and seeing how things can improve over time.”
Election Day is June 7. The top-two candidates in the primary for California’s 29th District will square off against each other on November 8, alongside the candidates for the other seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.