“I think the party should trust young people,” she said in that
article. “It should trust new Americans. It should trust women.
It hasn’t been doing that. The Democrats seem very elite.”
She also spoke then of frustration with party leadership not
listening or trying “to do things differently,” such as trying
new ideas or getting “better with technology.”
Born in Mexico and raised in Southwest Detroit, Ms.
Santiago-Romero has spent the last several years as a community
organizer and political activist. She spent a couple of years at
the helm of Girls Making Change, working with state
Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) on the fellowship and
leadership program for young girls of color.
Ms. Santiago-Romero also has worked in the cabinet of Detroit
City Council member Raquel Casteneda-López and as an
assistant to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. Both Sen.
Chang and Councilwoman Casteneda-López have personally endorsed
her current campaign.
Ms. Santiago-Romero’s background is a Latina success story—the
first in her family to pursue higher education and graduate with
a master’s degree. She became Student Union President during
grad school at the University of Michigan’s School of Social
continued her higher education at Harvard Kennedy School
in the Executive Education Certificate Program.
She currently serves as the policy and research director at a
state-based movement organization, pushing for statewide policy
change that centers on community basic needs in partnership with
multi-racial grassroots organizations in Michigan.
When COVID-19 struck,
Santiago-Romero is credited with connecting with community
leaders to form a mutual aid fund to help low-income to pay
bills and get food.
“Growing up an immigrant in poverty in Southwest Detroit has
forced me to see and learn things the hard way. I know our
family isn’t the only one in our community that has experienced
these struggles,” she said on her campaign website. “Too many
families in our community have struggled to make ends meet, have
been pushed out of their homes by foreclosures, and have
struggled to get to jobs or school due to the lack of reliable
Santiago-Romero is campaigning on a platform of providing better
safety and health by prioritizing public health and services,
affordable housing by attacking “unfair policies and confusing
processes” that can lead to foreclosures and evictions, and
improved collaboration on gathering “community insight for
future infrastructure opportunities and development” such as the
“access and affordability of public transportation” without
sacrificing road repairs.
Santiago-Romero filed to run on the Aug. 4 primary ballot six
months ahead of her two female Democratic opponents, Lisa
Carter of Detroit and Ilona Varga of suburban Lincoln
Heights. But she has a tough road to victory. Ms. Varga is the
incumbent, holding the Wayne County Commissioner seat for more
than 20 years.
Ms. Carter serves as a member of the Detroit Board of Police
Commissioners, but her term is up next year. This is her second
run for the District 4 county commission seat, losing to Ms.
Varga in the 2018 Democratic primary.