America’s Election Day is generally believed to be the first Tuesday in November, but the actual vote for president took place on Dec. 15, when a select group of party loyalists comprising the Electoral College met in state capitals across the nation to cast their votes.
One of those Americans was Maritza Davila, a 45-year-old Bushwick resident making her first appearance in the Electoral College. Davila, a community organizer for the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, cast her vote for Barack Obama, one of 365 votes Obama was expected to receive to win the presidency.
Members of the Electoral College are chosen for their community and political activity and party loyalty, and a quick look at Davila’s resume shows that she fits the bill.
A community organizer for the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, Davila runs the lead prevention program for an organization that works in Williamsburg along with its neighbors to the east.
Her experience as a community organizer informed her opinion of President-elect Barack Obama, a former organizer himself.
“People who go out on the street, on the front lines, it’s different from being a politician behind a desk. We needs somebody who really knows what’s going on in the communities that need government the most,” she said.
In her off hours, Davila is a volunteer president of the Northern Bushwick Residents Association, an umbrella group for civic and block associations that focuses on all types of community improvement.
In addition, she serves as the female District Leader in the 53rd Election District, serving alongside Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the male District Leader. Her involvement in community causes began in 1990, when she was a single parent trying to make ends meet while working as a secretary and living in a building with no heat or hot water.
“That’s what led me to become a community activist. Those times were life-changing,” she said.
In October, Davila got a letter from Albany asking her if she wanted to be an electoral voter. With what she felt was the most important election of her life approaching, she did not hesitate.
“I was so proud and humbled that I was there, making history. I brought my 10-year-old granddaughter there so she could appreciate the moment too,” she said.
“The election gave us all hope. This is the United States of America, where anything can happen, you can make a difference, and anything is possible. And we proved it then.”
Davila said she became a Democrat because “the values of the Democrats are different from the Republicans’. We’re talking about different income brackets.”
She continued: “And the Democratic Party is the one involved in my community. Most of the elected officials in my neighborhood are Democrats, and they do a lot for the people in this community.”
Davila, who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States with her family at the age of three months, said the election of a person of color enhanced the significance of Obama’s election.
“We elected a president with a different perspective who’s familiar with the suffering of people of color. The country was ready, they voted, and I was glad to be a part of that,” she said.