GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado added to its rich Hispanic history last year by electing its first Latina representative to the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Yadira Caraveo represents the state’s newest congressional district, and her approach toward representing these Coloradans is guided by her background as a medical doctor and her Latina roots.
“Well, it’s incredibly special,” Caraveo said. “It wasn’t actually until after I had decided to run for Congress and filed paperwork and everything that I realized that I, if elected, would be the first Latina to serve the state of Colorado in Congress.”
A doctor’s approach to legislation
Caraveo spoke with FOX31 in the heart of the 8th Congressional District she represents, at Lincoln Park in Greeley.
Though she lost the Weld County vote in her race, Caraveo does not allow that or the differences between her and some of her constituents to be a barrier to representing them.
FOX31 asked: How do you govern people who are not Latino?
“I think the same way that I would approach any community,” Caraveo said. “When I was a doctor, it wasn’t necessarily about the race of a person who was in front of me. It was looking at what, in medicine at least, their chief complaint was, what diagnosis I had to make and what treatment I needed to lay out.”
Caraveo sometimes finds herself in a position most pioneers experience: at odds with things as they have always been and the ever-changing landscape of middle America.
FOX31 asked: What do you do when confronted with a one-dimensional view of Latinos from within your own congressional district?
“I think you work past it,” Caraveo said. “You can be very frank in some conversations, right, and say I understand that that’s your perception, but I’m interested in everything that has to do with Weld County, with Adams, with Larimer.”
It’s in the name: Latinos a big part of Colorado’s story
Of all the congressional districts across the state, Caraveo’s has one of the highest percentages of Hispanic residents, a key demographic that for her is more than just a voting bloc.
It’s a culture in which she was born and raised and a keystone of the historic patchwork of Colorado, whose own constitution was even written in both English and Spanish.
“That really speaks to the Latino roots that the state has,” Caraveo said. “I mean, it’s named in Spanish, and so we are a great part of its history.”
Caraveo acknowledges Latino history in the state while personifying its future, one she hopes sees more Latinos in more positions in government.
“We need more and more of us to get into these positions so that every single time it’s a little bit easier,” Caraveo said.
It’s important to say: ‘My voice matters’
She admits, even on her own staff, to having fewer Hispanic hiring options, a reality she hopes will change one day.
“The most important thing is to say is my voice matters and I need to express it to someone instead of just saying nobody cares and I’m just going to sit back and not say anything,” Caraveo said.
A trailblazer who is inspired but not defined by her roots, Caraveo is motivated to serve.
“We’re Latino and we’re Americans, and there are certain goals that we still have to meet for our community,” Caraveo said.