As we watch more and more women throwing their hats into today’s political arena during these highly polarizing times, Lalita Etwaroo is gearing up to challenge Democratic incumbent Clyde Vanel for a New York State Assembly Legislative seat. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, the recent college graduate is a Republican candidate for NY State Assembly in the 33rd District, which covers the neighborhoods of Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Hollis, Queens Village, Bellerose and parts of Floral Park in Queens. Her slogan “Don’t just speak about change, make the change” is an indication of the many changes she plans to implement should she win the coveted seat.
Lalita, who is 26, said she was inspired to run for office by Jacinda Ardern, who last year at age 37, became the youngest prime minister in New Zealand in almost 150 years, and who had been a member of parliament since she was 28 years old. “She has recently given birth to a baby girl, while unmarried making her the first world leader in nearly 30 years to have a child while in office. This shows that women don’t always need a man at their sides. I think she was pretty incredible for bringing her baby to work with her only days after she was born! What an amazing woman”, Lalita shared.
Lalita is not afraid to take on this challenge and advises young girls who may want to pursue a career in politics is to follow their dreams. “You may think that you can’t make a difference or this task might be too big, because I have felt this way before, but your voice is bigger than anything. Keep an open mind, make lots of friends and have fun while doing it,” she said.
Here’s Lalita’s story:
My name is Lalita Etwaroo, I migrated to the Unites States from Guyana, South America when I was 11 years old. I am now 26, during the past fifteen years I have accomplished more than many, from graduating high school (Bayside High School, Flushing NY) in 2009, to John Jay College Bachelors of Sciences in Criminology and Political Science in 2013 and finally John Jay College Masters of Public Administration with concentrations in Human Resources and Operations Management 2016. I first became exposed to the idea of politics and the work of politicians when I interned at the New York State assembly in 2012. I worked alongside then assemblyman Robert J Castelli, we worked closely introducing legislation that would benefit constituents in the 89th Assembly District. During this time I got to see how bills are researched, written, perfected, debated, rejected, and perfected again in order to be passed onto the Senate. Here I learned that with technique and determination any member was able to represent their district to their full capacity.
While I was in Albany, I have also seen the lack of transparency for constituents to hold their member accountable for votes and actions they have taken on a bill. Many times members pushed their own personal agenda without thinking what effects this would have on their district.
As time went on, and after seeing the “works” of politicians I returned home after six months, but once I got back I was hungry for more. I wanted to become more involved in my district, meet constituents, find out what worried people in our district and just to get a better understanding of where I have been living. After a short time I became a member of the Queens Village Republican club there I met several influential individuals, people that were working for the district, people that were concerned, as well as people who are now lifelong friends.
After joining the club my first conversation was with Joseph Concannon, it went something like this, “with this fire in my belly I need to run in this election for the Assembly District 33 seat.” Joseph then said to me, “unfortunately we have already selected a candidate but let’s get you started for the next race”. I started a process of getting to know locals, business men and women in the district and several other individuals who would have my back in the future.
I was so intrigued with wanting to gain more knowledge of the election process and procedures that when there was an announcement for the city council race in 2017 I made no hesitation in making sure that I was part of the team that stood behind the republican candidate. The more we drove the race the more it fueled me, some of the things I was responsible for were, carrying petitions, canvassing, seeking out young students to be interns while giving them an opportunity to get hands on political experience and going door to door and spreading the word of the candidate.
When I’m not involved in political work or being boss lady to a business that is owned by my parents, I like to do work on my own, I use our business to connect to our local Guyanese community here in the United States, supporting local radio stations, cultural events and local concerts through Edible Arrangements. I am trying to stay in contact with our culture and traditions although we’re not in the home land. I will do whatever it takes to preserve our religion and culture.
My goal is to one day retire on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean, but for now I’ll stick with goals that I can actually reach. My first goal was to graduate and accomplish my Masters degree, now that that completed my second goal is to bring home the win for Assembly District 33.
I have lived in this district for 16 years and it seems like I’m waking up in the same bubble everyday. Everyone has grown comfortable of everything happening around, our district is falling apart, our constituents need local representation, our constituents need someone that works for them and not their personal agenda, they need accountability, they need transparency, our district needs a fighter. I promise to fight for the following 5 issues when I’m elected to office.
- Culture of corruption – no more personal agendas politicians, no rubber stamping and votes by proxy politicians need to have accountability. Term limits should be in place.
- Specialized High School: Save specialized high school and the SHSAT! Give students a chance to be educated in our district by better allocations of educational funds
- Sanctuary State: Fighting to not make New York a real sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants.
- Fighting to keep Rivers island. Closing it just places prisons in our backyard. For the safety of our communities and children, I will be working to my full strength to make sure that rikers stay.
- Patient Reclassification: I will work and fight to close homeless shelters/hotels in our district. These individuals need a vetting process that works not one that houses them.
To follow my journey, please visit my website at etwaroofor33.com and all social media accounts: facebook, instagram and twitter are @etwaroofor33.