Ricky Hurtado can claim many firsts in his life: first-generation college student at UNC, first-generation graduate student at Princeton University — and now, the first Latinx Democrat to ever be elected to the North Carolina General Assembly.
“More than anything, I've been humbled by this moment,” Hurtado said. “We've done something that no Latino Democrat has ever done in North Carolina, and with someone that is truly from the community, a huge hurdle, a huge glass ceiling has finally been broken.”
An adjunct instructor of education at UNC, the co-founder of LatinxEd and now a state representative, Hurtado made history this November when he defeated incumbent Republican Stephen M. Ross for District 63 of the N.C. House of Representatives.
With a combination of early fundraising, a determined phone banking effort and support from various community organizations, like the Triangle-area volunteer group Neighbors on Call and Orange County Democratic Party, Hurtado won the race by just 477 votes.
Elaine Berry, one of Hurtado’s two campaign managers, said representatives are meant to represent — to serve and to listen to the people about what their needs are, and to try to meet those needs.
“We felt that wasn't being done in Alamance County, or frankly in the state of North Carolina,” Berry said.
While their team was making phone calls and socially distanced voter visits, Berry said she had heard nothing about other legislators attempting outreach in the community.
“We wanted to be able to look ourselves in the face the day after the election and say win, lose or draw that we did everything we could, and there was nothing we didn't leave on the table,” Berry said.
As a resident of Alamance County, Hurtado works with various local programs, such as CityGate Dream Center, a community hub that serves diverse children and families in Alamance County. These programs are similar to one where he worked as an undergraduate at UNC in 2009, where he also met LatinxEd co-founder and fellow adjunct instructor Elaine Townsend Utin.