OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — "I think more and more people are becoming proud of who they are, be it Latino, be it Fil-Am, be it Samoan. I'm the daughter of an immigrant. And being proud of who she is and where she comes from."
Is one thing that got Oceanside's Mayor Esther Sanchez where she is today. In 2020, she became the first woman and first Latina mayor of the city.
"I so wanted my mom and dad to see this. And for me to see that I was able to make it. Unfortunately, they passed before that, so I had them here inside you know, with me," said Mayor Sanchez.
Her mother came to the US from Mexico, while her father moved from Texas to Oceanside as a kid. This is where she grew up.
"My folks were such hard workers, my mom she only went to school for one year, she always felt that… she wished that she had gone to school longer so she always told us to do good in school," Sanchez recalled.
And that's exactly what Sanchez did.
"I went to all public schools here in Oceanside, graduated in 74, went to Brown University. It gave me a sense, you know a perspective, of who I was. My family and how important family and our culture was," said Sanchez.
After that, she went to law school and worked as a deputy public defender for 20 years. She also served on Oceanside's City Council for two decades. That's where she was able to help start "Noche Mexicana" locally to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in Oceanside.
The pandemic put things on hold this year and last. But it's been one of the largest events in San Diego County commemorating Mexico's Independence Day.
"We called it 'Noche Mexicana' because we would do it at night like traditionally in Mexico," she said. "It's showing the wonderful culture that we have in the arts and dance, in the business community."
While Hispanic Heritage Month will be over soon, being proud of her culture and passing that along to younger generations is something Sanchez will always strive to do.
"For me, it's been about shedding the positive light and having our kids be proud of who they are," Sanchez said.