Alma Hernandez (AZ): ‘No One Should Be Above the Law’
Alma Hernandez (26), a Democrat from Tucson, AZ, is the first Jewish Mexican-American woman elected to the Arizona State House. Her brother is also a state representative in South Tucson, and her sister is on the school board. She grew up in a nonobservant intermarried family. She connected to Judaism as a teenager, has held leadership positions in several Jewish organizations and recently became a bat mitzvah.
How does your Judaism affect your political views?
I am very proud of my Jewish roots and I have tried to include that in every aspect of my life, including politics and policy. The whole notion of tikkun olam—that people are treated fairly and equally, and that we live in a society where we can all thrive—is very important to me.
Is Israel an important issue for you?
As a progressive it sometimes causes some divisions in my circle. I’ve been working on pro-Israel issues since high school, so I take some of it personally. We’re told that we have to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but I don’t see it that way and won’t be shamed into choosing a side.
What policy issues do you care about most?
Health care, public education and especially criminal justice. I unfortunately was introduced to the criminal justice system when I was attacked at age 14 by a police officer on my school campus. I was arrested, taken to juvie and kicked out of high school for something I didn’t do. I went from being an honor student one day to being a criminal the next. I had to work so hard against the system that had failed me, which is the reason why I’ve been so involved in that issue.
Why do you support Joe Biden?
I want to win this election, and I feel that the only way to win right now would be with Joe Biden. I know people say he’s old and he’s a part of the establishment. But I feel that is what’s going to win in this election. I’m trying to be as realistic and pragmatic about this as possible.
Has the Ukraine affair changed your mind about Biden?
In regards to his son, it hasn’t, as I strongly believe that Biden didn’t take part in any wrongdoing on that issue. I think it’s now being used by Trump as a distraction from all of the serious problems he is now facing.
Are there disagreements in your family about whom to support?
We are a very split family. My father is a staunch Elizabeth Warren supporter. He wants Warren to win more than anything in the world. My mother is a really big Biden supporter for a lot of the same reasons as I am. I think my brother is leaning toward Pete Buttigieg. My sister seems to be waiting to decide, like a lot of people, but she doesn’t seem to be on the Biden train.
Would you support any Democrat against Trump?
I will support whoever wins the nomination. We don’t want to see what happened in the last election. I was a delegate for Hillary, and I voted for her at the Democratic National Convention. But it was frustrating to see those who call themselves Democrats and were Bernie supporters not supporting Hillary in the way they should have. After the primary election, it’s a matter of supporting the candidate who wins, moving forward, and doing what we can to help them win the general election.
Do you support the move to impeach Trump?
I firmly believe that we need to hold all elected officials to the same standard, and if there is enough evidence that would qualify him for impeachment, I am for it. No one should be above the law.