“Your Vote Is Your Voice” was the campaign slogan when I ran for Senior Class President. Of course, the students were motivated by lighter matters like prom and graduation reunion. However, other elected representatives, such as a district court judge, can quite literally determine someone’s life or death. This is why it was so fascinating to interview Mr. Daniel Alvarez, candidate for district court judge of Jefferson County in Louisville, Kentucky. If elected, Mr. Alvarez would be the first Latino judge in the history of the state of Kentucky. Although I was embarrassingly late for the interview (I ended up in Indiana like 95% of Louisvillians who go downtown,) Mr. Alvarez was very kind and welcoming. As I stared at the walls of his office, I knew we would connect over his U of L Bachelor of Arts in History. History buffs in the Trump era … this should be fun.
Zara Macias: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, Mr. Alvarez! This conversation is going to be laid back and fun.
Danny Alvarez: Awesome, I like laid back.
ZM: Great! Let’s start with this: do you consider yourself a feminist?
DA: Absolutely. I have been blessed with very strong women in my life. My mother and grandmother have been my guiding forces. My grandmother gave up her life in Colombia and came to the U.S. to take care of us. She is my hero. I get teared up talking about her; she is so amazing. She taught me about faith, hard work, family, and love.
ZM: All the important stuff.
DA: Yes, exactly. She also taught me how to clean.
ZM: That’s very Hispanic! “You can’t go out until you clean!”
DA: And she was very particular! Like, if I cleaned a table, she would come over and inspect it. She would always say “No, that’s not good enough. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.” That mantra has stuck with me ever since: “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.” What I loved about my grandma is that she was always so positive, despite all the obstacles she had faced.
ZM: It’s beautiful that the first thing that came to mind when I said “feminism” is your grandmother. There are so many misconceptions about what it means to be a feminist. Is there anything else you would like to add to that idea?
DA: It’s interesting; I went to a meeting with Marta Miranda, the Chief Empowerment Officer of the Center for Women and Families. We were talking about feminism, and she asked me the same question. And I always say, “my grandma;” feminism is my grandma. She was the ultimate feminist who fought for herself. Feminism stands for equity, and we as men need to recognize our privilege in our patriarchal society. You know, I have two daughters, and I want them to have the same opportunities as my son. I don’t want my daughters to experience higher rates of sexual abuse simply because they’re women. Men need to respect women.
ZM: I completely agree. On to the next question. Which philosopher do you most identify with?
DA: That’s a good question. I think I’ve always liked Immanuel Kant because he has the categorical imperative. But as a lawyer, that has changed completely. Having seen what I’ve seen in law, there should never be bright-line rules. I think bright-line rules lead to injustices because we don’t take in the whole person and his/her experiences. Everything is gray.
ZM: It sounds like you lean more towards Aristotle. Virtue is a mean between two extremes. On one extreme, you never forgive people and on the other, you don’t care about their actions. There’s always value in finding a medium.
DA: That’s right.
ZM: Finally, the big question, since you are running for district court judge. What sets you apart from the other candidates?
DA: The wealth of experience I have. I’ve been practicing law for almost 20 years. I have practiced every type of law that comes in front of a district court judge as well as in federal court. I specialize in immigration law, so I can spot issues in the trial. As a judge, my role would not be to advise, but having that background would help me, for example, to not take the plea if it can lead to deportation. At the very least, I would recommend a consultation with an immigration attorney, to see what kind of effect the plea would have. So that would definitely distinguish me from other judges. I’m also bilingual.
I was honored to receive the endorsement of Citizens for Better Judges in 2015. They have an extensive process when choosing whom to endorse. They not only look at your platforms but also your history as a person. This group is made up of attorneys, community members, and other influential figures. Obviously, they haven’t chosen their endorsement in this election yet, but I’m confident I could receive it again. I have also received an endorsement from the Teamsters Local 89, a big union here in town. And, of course, if I do get elected, I would be the first Latino judge in the whole state of Kentucky.
ZM: Making history! As a history major, that would be exciting!