Representative Angela Romero, representing District 26 (portions of Salt Lake City and West Valley City), was recently selected as the President-Elect of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. I connected with her for a Q&A session that touches on her new national position and also lays out her thoughts about issues and concerns affecting her constituents on the Westside.
Rep. Romero’s responses have been condensed for space.
Gloria Arredondo: What is your background? How long have you been in politics?
Rep. Angela Romero: I came from Tooele, Utah, but moved to SLC in 1991 to attend the University of Utah. There I met the late Senator Pete Suazo and community organizer Archie Archuleta. They asked me to be student representative on Utah Coalition of La Raza's Board of Directors, giving me my start in community organizing and politics. I interned for Senator Suazo when he served in the Utah House of Representatives. I was first elected to the Utah House in 2012. In March 2022, my peers across the country named me President-Elect of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL). My two-year term as President begins in 2024.
GA: How will SLC's Westside community benefit from your new position and from your voice in the legislative process? How will you call on Latino voters nationwide?
AR: The Westside is largely composed of communities of color. My leadership will amplify these communities’ voices at the national level, shining a light on Utah’s diversity and needs.
While I served on NHCSL’s Executive Committee, First Lady Jill Biden met with Glendale students and honored Utah teachers. In March, NHCSL’s leadership team met with Vice-President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C. We discussed the Build Back Better Plan and how the White House could work with us at the state level. I want to bring more resources to the Westside and other areas of my district.
The goals of NHCSL’s roughly 400 members are to engage all voters, focusing on Latino voters, and to protect voting rights, including voting by mail, early voting, and making voting accessible.
GA: What are the biggest challenges facing Westside Latinos today?
AR: My biggest concern is the Inland Port and how it will impact our communities’ health. I'm also concerned about housing, food, and gas prices and the aftermath of COVID-19, which had a disproportionate health and economic impact on the Latino community. Latino workers were overrepresented in the industries most impacted by COVID-19.
GA: You’ve become a well-known advocate for crime victims’ rights. What have been your recent successes with respect to domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault?
AR: I’ve dedicated my legislative career to being the voice of survivors of sexual assault, human trafficking, and intimate partner violence. Among my accomplishments are:
- Sponsoring the Prison Rape Elimination Act and an Interpersonal Violence Prevention program appropriation request of $3.6 million.
- Sponsoring legislation creating the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl Task Force and securing $130,000 in one-time program funding to conduct research, seek input from multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional representatives, and conduct tribal consultations. Goals are to define the nature and scope of the issues; develop model protocols and procedures for new and unsolved cases; and identify best practices regarding the review of cold cases, communication with affected families, and education and outreach campaigns for the most impacted communities.
- Sponsoring HB200 mandating testing of all sexual assault kits and adequate funding for the state crime lab.
- Passing HB175 ("Safe Pets, Safe People"), allowing inclusion of pets in court-issued protective orders. Often victims of DV return to abusers because their pets are threatened. HB175 gives victims the freedom to leave knowing that their pet will also be protected.