Liliana Rivera Baiman
Columbus City Council
Liliana Rivera Baiman immigrated to the US from Mexico as a young child. She was raised in Houston, Texas and began getting involved in politics as a student at the University of Houston. After serving as an intern for the SEIU she spent the next 13 years organizing within the labor and immigrant rights movement. She currently volunteers with the Central Ohio Worker’s Center liaising with women to assist with wage theft among other issues they face. If elected, Liliana will make public education, municipal daycare for all families and affordable housing her priorities. As a Latina candidate, she understands the plight disenfranchised communities face and strives to improve their opportunities. She lives in Columbus with her husband and son.
Meet the Candidate
Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
My journey to becoming a mother opened up my eyes to the reality of our healthcare system and parental leave policies. We lost a baby in 2017 due to PPROM and almost lost our sweet baby boy to the same in 2018. I spent 74 days on hospital bed rest and he spent 80 days in the NICU. We were fortunate to have good health insurance and understanding employers, but while in the hospital I quickly realized other women and families did not. When a friend who had a baby the same age as our Dylan mentioned that we needed to create a better world for our children, I decided that I needed to run for office even if it was at the local level. I need to make change, our city needs leadership from the perspective of an immigrant woman of color, one who came from a working family and understands the struggles many are facing. It isn’t easy balancing the needs of my family, work, and a city-wide campaign for office, but we won’t create the city we want to see watching from the sidelines. We have to understand the value of our experiences and jump right in!
Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
My mother is my inspiration, an immigrant woman who worked 2 jobs as a custodian to provide me with money for gas and food while I was in college. She inspires me work harder and make bold decisions, and instilled in me the value of personal sacrifice for the next generation.
Some of you are military veterans, some small business owners, some professionals, some mothers and grandmothers, some homemakers. How did one of these experiences shape who you are as a person and leader?
I have worked for the last 13 years in labor and immigrants’ rights movement and have held almost every position from Intern to Director. Most recently, I have also taken on the role of mother to a baby born at 32 weeks. I have spent my career knocking on doors, listening to members of marginalized communities, negotiating labor contracts, visiting worksites, completing casework, and most importantly empowering people by building individual commitment to strength in numbers. I have seen people without hope go through a complete transformation while working to form a union at their worksites. I have seen women in abusive situations leave partners, mothers go on strike to ensure they had enough to feed their children, and communities come together to support them. This type of work has given me strength when times are difficult, thick skin, and the skills necessary to organize communities in need.
The Matriots PAC has a goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I want to see a power structure in Columbus that reflects the diversity of our community. This means gender, race, ethnic background, orientation, identity, and economic status. We will never create policy for the benefit of working families and marginalized communities unless these communities have a seat at the table. We cannot truly claim success as a growing city until all residents have the opportunity to share in it.
Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
The affordable housing crisis and lack of living wage jobs. These two issues go hand in hand, and disproportionately hit communities of color, immigrants, and women. Headlines bragging about the creation of minimum wage jobs in retail and logistics while families are priced out of their neighborhoods is not a sustainable trend.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
Another thing my mother inspired in me is the love of gardening, and cooking with fresh herbs, fruits and veggies. I love spending time in my garden growing various flowers, cacti, and herbs. Cilantro is my favorite plant; I love the taste and smell it brings to our family meals.