When the results were confirmed and Springfield Ward 1 City Councilor Adam Gomez Sr. was declared the winner of the Democratic primary for the Hampden District state Senate seat, his father could not help but think back to the years of protests, community organizing and sacrifice of family time that led to this moment.
“This is about more than my son or my family. This is about a fight we have been fighting for 30 years to get representation for the Black and Latino community in Springfield,” said Gumersindo Gomez, who serves as executive director of the Massachusetts Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center of Massachusetts Inc., and who was part of the Springfield Coalition for Ward Representation. The latter organization fought for the right to have ward representation on the city council in 1992.
Adam Gomez said he will be the first Afro-Latino to serve in the Massachusetts senate and only the second person of color joining current Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz. The primary also saw a victory for Ward 8 City Councilor Orlando Ramos, who will succeed current state Rep. Jose Tosado in representing the 9th Hampden District. Both men are Puerto Rican.
Samantha Pettey, an assistant professor of political science at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, said it can be hard for women and people of color to win voter support — especially in a challenge to a current office holder.
“You are trying to convince people that you are qualified for the job. Going up against an incumbent is very intimidating, especially when this person has been on the ballot year after year,” said Pettey, whose research includes looking at the successes of female candidates in state elections. “The Latino population in Springfield has continued to grow and I think it’s the right time and moment for people of color and for women, especially seeing this trickle down role model effect of candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. These young people of color and women candidates are inspiring other folks lower down the political ladder to give it a try, too.”
Adam Gomez said he is grateful to his wife and three children, as well as his parents and siblings, for standing by him while he first ran for a seat on the New North Citizens Council Board of Directors and later the Ward 1 City Council seat. He also credited his political success to his two close friends Zulmalee Rivera-Delgado, an organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor, and his close friend and fellow community activist Jafet Robles, who was killed in 2017. His murder