Sosa lives in Lyman, works for Sedro-Woolley's parks and recreation department and is a chemical-dependency counselor at Sea Mar Community Health Clinic in Mount Vernon. He also has a radio show on KSVR-FM on which he interviews lawyers and other experts about various issues.
These positions allow him to connect with the community in many ways, he said.
"Working with youth and adults, I see everything. I know what our community needs," Sosa said. "Many people, they see one piece and they don't see the rest of the pieces."
Sosa said most elected leaders pay only token attention to people like him.
"I don't see many people going to the community of the Latinos except when they're looking for the vote. They say 'buenos dias' and they court the vote and they leave. We need people who understand the whole community," he said. "... To understand the farm workers, you have to go to the farm. To understand the person who is hungry, you have to be hungry."
While he decides which office to run for, Sosa said he will help other Latino candidates however he can. Four Mount Vernon City Council seats are up for grabs this year, which Sosa said is a good opportunity for Latinos.
"We have quality people here. We have young people who can run and we have old people who can run, too," he said. "We have to find these people and support them."
Sosa said he hopes to be a role model for other people aspiring to elected office.
"Things are changing," he said. "I was a migrant worker and now I am a professional. Before, I was a farmworker homeboy. Now, it's different. I never in my dreams thought I would go to the White House and see the president of the United States (while lobbying for immigration reform). Now I have experience, I share my experience with the rest of the Latinos and they are thinking, 'Wow, I can do it too.'"
One topic discussed in Yakima was the range of difficulties immigrant and minority candidates can face, including being identified primarily by their race.
"(A news story) doesn't say 'white candidate Sarah Bishop,' but it might say 'Latino candidate Tony Sosa,'" Bishop said. "So race becomes a major factor in a way that's not the case with white candidates."
Candidate or not, a person is more than just race, Ramos said.
"We wanted to represent ourselves ... and represent everyone as a Latino. It just so happens I'm a Latino, but I'm an American and a veteran," Ramos said.
For some, Bishop said, it can be all in a name.
In 2012, Seattle attorney Bruce O. Danielson challenged incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez. Despite lacking Gonzalez' experience and endorsements, raising $0 and hardly campaigning, Danielson won every eastern and southwestern Washington county in the primary. He also got 52 percent of Skagit County's vote.
Gonzalez still won overall, but the overwhelming support for his unknown opponent showed how much impact an Anglo-sounding name -- the only thing many voters knew about Danielson -- can have, Bishop said.
Sosa doesn't worry too much about the challenges ahead.
"What I say to the kids and teens is, 'I am Mexican, not Mexican't,'" he said. "It means I can do it. I don't believe in barriers. I don't like barriers. I believe I will fly."
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