First Latino D.C. councilmember? Angel Henriquez ’22 wants the job.

This Brandeis sophomore has lofty political ambitions.

Angel HenriquezPhoto/Mike Lovett

Angel Henriquez '22

Washington, D.C. native Angel Henriquez ’22 may be a sophomore at Brandeis, but he’s not letting his age stand in the way of his political ambitions.

Henriquez, who majors in politics, wants to be the first Latino elected to the district’s city council and is already planning a run in 2024, a mere two years after he is due to graduate.

“People say I’m too young or too ambitious, but I know I’m going to be elected someday and represent my community,” said Henriquez, who discovered his love of politics after the 2016 presidential election. “Why should I listen to the haters who are going to talk down my dreams? 

He touts his experience as a leader, community organizer, and policy advocate and can run through ideas and fixes he has for the issues challenging the Washington, D.C. community with detail and proficiency. He’s also proud of his D.C. roots – so proud that in high school he bought a full-size flag of Washington, D.C. that he frequently carries around campus.

“I have the flag because I’m prideful of my city and I love representing where I’m from,” Henriquez said. “Sure, my city has its imperfections, but it’s still home. I hang with my friends there, my family, and we have our own culture – we have mumbo-sauce, go-go music, different fashion styles – we created all of it. That’s part of why I want to put D.C. on the map and work for the people.”

And while he takes great pride in his heritage, his concerns extend beyond his own community. He has served as a tour guide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum through Bringing The Lessons Home, a non-profit that encourages young people to talk about their experiences at the museum with their parents.

“It’s about not being a bystander,” Henriquez said. “If there’s injustice anywhere, we have to speak about it. I was blessed to have that experience at the Holocaust Museum.”

Last year, Henriquez helped organize the Youth Mayoral Forum in which candidates for mayor debated one another on issues affecting young people in Washington, D.C. And last summer, Henriquez interned in the office of Washington, D.C. city councilmember Charles Allen, learning the ins and outs of local politics.

Though he’s currently only 19, Henriquez is adamant that his future is in local politics. One reason is his love of D.C. Another is his experience in Allen’s office learning about how work is conducted inside the city council.

“I pay Charles much respect because he really took me under his wing,” Henriquez said. “What attracted me about his office is the way change is enacted almost right away. In Congress it’s a few months, years, or never. In the council, I think it’s a lot faster. They talk about an issue, discuss a solution, vote on it, and then there it goes.”

Among the issues he’s eager to tackle are gun violence, affordable housing, employment opportunities for DC residents, including immigrants and ex-convicts, and civic engagement and education for young people by instituting new local civics classes for the district’s curriculum. Most of all, Henriquez, who has also advocated for a measure that would lower the federal voting age to 16, wants to give young people more of a say in government.

“Young people don’t have a voice in our democracy,” Henriquez said. “They don’t have a voice in decision-making, so if I’m going to be an elected official, I’m going to enact legislation on behalf of young people and bring my demographic to the table.”

While Henriquez has aggressively pursued his own extracurricular political education, he credits Brandeis for encouraging debate and creating a community where students have to confront different ideas and philosophies.

“Brandeis has really taught me to embrace different perspectives,” Henriquez said. “I think that will serve me well, because you have to deal with different people who might have the opposite beliefs as you, so I have to be on my toes all the time.”

“At the end of the day, we can all have a soda and talk about common stuff, like here at Brandeis, which has united people on all different sides,” Henriquez said. “How are you going to start a dialogue if you don’t open up? I think it’s repetitive to just hear your side. We have to find common ground and embrace different points of view, even if you don’t agree.”

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