By Mercy Valencia
I will never forget the day I met Joe Biden. I was working as a cleaner at One Washington Park, a commercial building in Newark.
About two years ago, we were advised that former Vice President Joe Biden would be coming and we were not to approach him or ask for pictures. Even though I knew I could not get close, I was very excited at the possibility of seeing him.
So, there I was – cleaning the lobby, when in walks in Joe Biden. I looked at him but I stayed put as instructed. He walked towards me and with a big smile, said hello and asked if I would please get him some coffee. After he got his coffee, he sat down with me for a quick chat. He then asked one of his security personnel to take a picture of us with my phone and went about his business.
The following week, Joe Biden returned to the building. To my surprise, when he walked into the building, he recognized me and approached me to say hello. Again, we chatted for a few moments.
People who hear my story always ask, “so…how was he?” I can tell you this: he saw me. He asked about my family and about me. He was humble, accessible and genuine. With Joe Biden, what you see is what you get.
As an immigrant from Ecuador, it was refreshing to see a politician who treated me with the respect I deserve as a human being. He truly cares, and I know he will protect our rights and benefits as workers. He has a proven track record of doing so. He makes me feel hopeful about the next four years, if he is in charge.
The current administration has tried to cloud our judgment with divisive rhetoric, instilling hate and fear in all of us. They have continued benefiting the already rich and powerful on the backs of the working class, and the poor, and the disenfranchised. They have sacrificed more than 220,000 lives by making the handling of the pandemic a political issue instead of making it a human issue. There is no end in sight…unless we make a change.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris offer us the possibility of coming together and rebuilding. They are thinking about us. They have a plan to lead us out of this pandemic and into a brighter future with healthcare access, equal rights for all, and better worker’s rights and conditions.
Let us remember that Joe Biden has rescued our country before, when, together with President Obama, they pull the country out of the worst recession since 1929. They worked so that we could all have access to healthcare thru the Affordable Care Act. They knew a pandemic could happen at any point, and prepared for it by leaving a procedure manual ready for the next administration, but Donald Trump and his people not only ignored this manual, but also continue to refuse taking responsibility for the lives lost.
Ever since I became a U.S. citizen in 2011, I understood the importance of participating in the electoral process and voting. Now, that the time has come again for us to decide on our future for the next four years, and for me the answer is easy: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It is time we accept that only united will we achieve fairness and greatness for our nation.
Mercy Valencia is a member of SEIU 32BJ Union. She lives in Newark.
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