SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Arthur Soriano didn't have that privilege until the age of 40, and now advocates about the power of voting.
Seven years ago, Soriano was released from prison after serving a 19-year sentence for attempted murder.
"I needed that sense of belonging and I found it in gangs," Soriano said.
He grew up in City Heights, with a single mother, and two younger twin sisters. He'd been in and out of trouble since he was a teenager. And of course, lost his opportunity to vote. But he turned his life around in prison.
"I went to college while I was in there so I self-educated while I was in prison. There was always aspirations of me wanting something better," says Soriano.
That something better was a grassroots community organization he created in City Heights called Youth Empowerment. Soriano now helps to provide services for formerly incarcerated men and women.
And four years ago at the age of 40, after serving his probation, Soriano voted for the first time.
"It was exciting, it was new, a new experience. But I felt the power of using my voice, of having that platform of my voice counts," Soriano said of voting in 2016.
Now, with the opportunity to have a direct influence on others in his community, Soriano also shares his message about the privilege of voting, and the power it can have.
"I have a place at the table, I have a voice, I have something I can bring. That's the message that I have for the community. If we come together with your voice, no matter what opinion that may be, you can make a difference," says Soriano.