Meet Your Legislative Candidates: Amelia D. Marquez

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This is the latest profile in what will be a series of pieces highlighting candidates for the Montana Legislature in 2018.

Amelia Marquez is running for an open state house seat in district 52 in Billings. You can follow Amelia’s campaign for legislature here: Amelia Marquez for HD 52

Who is Amelia Marquez?

Amelia Marquez:

I was born and raised in Billings, Montana. My father came to Montana back in the 70s from Chihuahua, Mexico. My mother’s family came from Mexico further back in our family tree. My maternal family, the Contreraz’s are known as founding members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the South Side of Billings and also helped to create the Annual Mexican Fiesta in South Park. I have over three hundred cousins across the nation and my family has assisted over a hundred children who are in the foster system. Last May, I graduated from Montana State University Billings with a degree in Mass Communication. I attended high school at Billings Senior High. Most of my youth was spent at a small theatre in Downtown, Billings. Currently, I work at a department store and nanny full time for my parents and the foster system. I came out as transgender about three years ago. At the end of the day, yes, I am transgender. I am also Latina, a sister, an aunt, a cashier. That is who I am but I want to emphasize that my candidacy and eventual representation of House District 52 will focus on the issues and not who I am.

What got you involved in politics? Have you been engaged in politics your whole life?

Amelia Marquez:

I truly believe we are always involved in politics. Even if you proclaim yourself not to be involved in politics, your silence is still a political stance. Most of my early experience in politics came from student government. As Student Body Secretary through high school and as a Senator-at-Large during university, I was mentored by some great instructors who were much more involved with local politics. By 2015, I felt like many other millennials felt. The Bernie Movement took us all by storm. We found a candidate that talked about issues that were actually important to us. He broke the status quo of normal politicians. I listened to Bernie. I realized that I could be a part of the change he was talking about. Because of Bernie, I decided that I wanted to help change the Democratic Party to work for the people. I became Vice Chair of the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee and decided to run for office.

What do you hope to accomplish at the legislature?

Amelia Marquez:

There aren’t many legislators in Helena who would be classified as lower-middle class. I worked two jobs this past fall just to get by. I have student loans creeping up and numerous other bills that are difficult to pay. Also, I have to decide carefully when I can actually afford to go to the doctor. I want to go to the legislature to actually give the lower-middle class a voice. I will advocate for moving the state’s minimum wage to $15/hour. Also, with MSU Billings being one of the biggest economic drivers in Billings we have to start to look into ways to make higher education tuition-free. I truly believe this can be done while pushing for an increase in teachers’ wages. Teachers are coming to Montana to attend college and then moving out of state to actually teach. This is not acceptable. I propose we start to look at recreational marijuana and using the tax for education. Finally, I really believe Montana can be a great role model for rural states on passing a statewide single-payer health care system. Health care is a human right and not a privilege for those that can afford it. We will renew Medicaid Expansion and do whatever else we can to get everyone the quality care they deserve.

You can donate to Amelia hereDONATE

Who do you look to for inspiration and why?

Amelia Marquez:

One of my biggest inspirations in bell hooks. One of the biggest problems of our time is the imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy that has passed through generation after generation. I believe many Montanans confuse feminism with something that it is not. bell hooks says it best when she says, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression… I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy… Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it is female or male, child or adult” (Hooks, 2000).

How will you connect with voters in your district?

Amelia Marquez:

We have already gotten on the doors. One man we met said his water just got shut off. Another elderly woman said that she was afraid of how she was going to pay for doctor bills. These are all problems that me and my family grew up with. My parents always made just enough to put food on the table. I am not like most candidates. I am not rich. I am just another citizen. I wasn’t recruited by anyone to run for office. I did it because I saw that people are hurting. I don’t care what anyone’s voting record is or what party they align with. We need more people running for the people of Montana and less to just vote on party lines. I live in district 52. I understand our issues.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

Amelia Marquez:

At the end of the day, I have always been an individual that wants to help. It hurts me when I see other people hurt. I may not get the most donations or acquire the most PAC endorsements, but I will always be there to talk to the individual. Not everyone in my district can donate and that is okay. We have a huge volunteer team and we will knock on every door in the district multiple times. You don’t need to be rich or owe someone something to feel properly represented. As I learned at a small theatre in Downtown Billings, we will create a judgment free zone, have a positive attitude, and respect our neighbors.

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