Norma Torres

Rialto 10th Annual State of Women - March 5, 2016

Norma Torres
March 05, 2016— Rialto, California
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I am honored to have been asked and been invited to come back year after year. I so much appreciate the work that you do and the work that the entire city of Rialto does for its residents. Thank you so much to all of you, city staff, that are here that helped organized and put this event together not just this year but every single year.

I am- although I'm in Congress now, you know, my life hasn't really been that easy. People say wow you know it you went and jumped from City Council Mayor Assembly Senate and now you're in Congress you know how easy was that? Well I might make it look easy, but let me tell you it hasn't always been easy for me, it's actually never been easy for me.

Today I wanted to talk to you about a group of people that are near and dear to my heart. All of us have- have been able to attain whatever position that we have, whatever title that we have, because we are standing on the shoulders of many women that have come before us and support that we have had for them. In my case, in every situation that I have been where I found myself in a room, usually it's full of men, where I am thinking, “what am I doing here? Is this real?” Right, somebody from Pomona sitting across the table negotiating with a vice president or attending a meeting with foreign dignitaries in a foreign country as a member of Congress. I mean, that is a big deal, and I every time I think about why am I doing this or why am I in this room, I think about the 911 dispatch center, you know, where I last work and where I spent 17 and a half years. I think about Yahida, which is an eleven-year-old girl whose murder unfolded in my ears, who's murdered forever have changed my life and pushed me into a life of politics that I neither like or appreciate, but it is what I have to do to do what I love to do which is to represent my community.

Earlier today, we heard from a wonderful woman who I was trying to keep secret for my home city of Pomona. If you know Pomona, you know we need a lot of leadership in that city, and we need we're a city you know that is in the works. She came to us not that long ago and president Coley has been such a wonderful addition to our community and she has already done a great deal of work and I wanted to keep her a secret, but when your mayor came up to me and said I learned about her on the newspaper, I said you know what she is worth sharing to the city of Rialto because she is a wonderful, wonderful woman.

I hope- I really hope that all of you here today take that script, that speech that she gave here, and I want to encourage you to keep it somewhere on your mirror anywhere where you can look back at it and read it for yourself over and over and over again. As a woman- as a woman of color, no one has said to me “you can do that you can do that.” It takes a lot of grit, it takes a lot of courage, and it takes a lot of self-promotion to be able to attain the things that we have to attain for ourselves. You have to be smarter than most men, you have to be better workers, you have to be better at everything, and I think what President Coley’s message to us today was we can do better for ourselves, and we have to believe in ourselves like other people believe in us.

Going back to that event that changed my life forever. I worked in the city of Los Angeles as a 911 dispatcher for 17 and a half years. Most of my co-workers were women and as a matter of fact there's one here today, Naomi in the back. These women work very, very hard every single day, we're 24 7. You know, my kids have never celebrated Christmas until I went in to the state legislature on Christmas Day because I've always worked Christmas Day. I've always worked New Year's Eve, I've always worked the fourth of July. Those were days you know that we had to celebrate the day before or the day after.

Most people don't know that we take call after call after call and we have to be resilient to the emotion of losing an 11 year old girl of having to talk to someone out of committing suicide or having to handle those tragic domestic violence calls that come in and are too often day in and day out. So when I find myself in a very tough situation, I think about those very strong women, you know, whose shoulder I stand on every single day. The women that helped me in my career at the 911 center that train me to care about the people that I served. The women who oftentimes were single moms and couldn't afford to send their kids to childcare, so they utilize the local library as a child care service. So when we talk about electing people who care and know about our communities, we have to really be focused on what does not really mean and does the people that we are voting for do they truly understand what it is to be a working mom and to be a part of the bigger picture which is our community.