Watch Sandra’s TV ad, “Her Story”

Read Sandra’s letter to voters to learn more about her background and platform. 

Dear Neighbor,

I remember feeling the rush of hope and opportunity when we first arrived in Rhode Island.

Twenty three years ago, my family moved to Pawtucket from Colombia under political asylum. My father had built a great career and was able to provide a good life for our family, but that all ended when he began receiving death threats and was later kidnapped by guerilla fighters in the remote mountains. Leaving everything behind, we fled our home because it was no longer safe for my family to stay in my country of birth. I was sixteen years old.

We came to the United States filled with the promise of a better life in a beautiful and safe community. We knew it would be hard work, but the safety and opportunity were worth the profound challenge of uprooting our lives and moving to a new country where none of us spoke the language.

That first year was the hardest. Though I had recently enrolled in college in Colombia, I had to repeat the last year of high school in order to learn English. My limited English language skills led some of my teachers to assume I couldn’t understand basic concepts. It was the first time I really experienced being underestimated.

From an early age, my parents taught me the value of hard work and integrity. So in the face of adversity, I pushed myself forward and connected with my new hometown through community involvement. I worked my way through the Community College of Rhode Island, then Rhode Island College, before transferring to Bryant University to earn a Bachelor’s in Economics and Business Management. Later I earned my Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Rhode Island and went on to complete leadership courses with the RI Institute for Labor Studies and Research, Latina Leadership Institute, New Leaders Institute, as well as executive leadership programs at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Hassenfeld Family Foundation Public Service Fellow, which catalyzed my passion for public service.

That’s when I decided to run for public office. Over the last decade, I’ve been privileged to represent my community and hometown at different levels: as a member of the Pawtucket School Committee, as an At-Large member of the Pawtucket City Council, and now as a State Senator, where I serve on the Senate Finance Committee and as Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

I have always felt profound gratitude for the great blessing and equalizer that education represents. Those experiences gave me a new sense of purpose. There was a common theme among all the activities I’d become involved in: Service. It was because of this that I felt compelled to give back and say “thank you” to this community, this country – my country – that had generously opened its arms to my family in a time of great difficulty.

My commitment to public service strengthened when I became a mother. My children, Arianna Hallel and Alessandro, mean everything to me. Their future – and the future of all of our children – depends on the decisions we make now. We need leaders who will push for policy solutions that will create a better world. But how can we get there when Congress is so dysfunctional?

That’s why I’m running to represent you in Congress. Together, we can make history by electing a Rhode Islander who knows what it means to struggle, to fight for what we believe in, to work in coalition with a broad spectrum of people, and to never give up: a working mom who understands what is at stake for our families.

Today, Congress is full of members who don’t know what it’s like to start with nothing and have to work hard to make ends meet every month. They simply don’t have the perspective to really understand how much people in our country are struggling. As a result, ideas are compromised to create policies that continue to stack the deck against working people. I believe in the promise of our country – but for too long, and for too many, it has been an empty promise. I want you to believe, as I do, that anything is possible through hard work and determination. I will continue working hard to ensure that we all have a great future ahead – for our children, our families, our seniors, and for future generations.

Throughout my time in public service, I’ve worked hard to enact policies that truly make a difference – from stronger gun safety laws, to the codification of Roe v. Wade in Rhode Island, to income tax exemptions on retirement and Social Security income, and more. For some candidates, these issues are just talking points. For me, I’ve done the work and delivered major legislative wins for everyday Rhode Islanders. My priorities in Congress will build upon these successes.

I know that education is an equalizer: a high quality education starts in early childhood and extends beyond high school. From my time on the Pawtucket School Committee through serving as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, I have championed and overseen successful advancements in education that will not only benefit Rhode Island’s children, but will also grow our future workforce and attract more businesses to our state to grow our economy. In Congress, I will remain a committed champion for children and education.

I also know that working people keep Rhode Island’s economy going, and they deserve protections for their wages and benefits, including retirement security. From expanding family and caregiver leave policies to ensuring fair wages for janitorial and security sector workers, I have listened to the voices and stories from the communities I have served. I will bring the same tenacity and dedication to these issues in Congress and will continue working to create a thriving future for all Rhode Islanders. Because a thriving Rhode Island is a healthy Rhode Island.

We currently struggle with access to physical and mental health care, and face workforce challenges in these areas. Through initiatives like the Trauma Informed Schools Act, establishing the 9-8-8 crisis intervention hotline, expanding Medicaid eligibility for all children, and expanding coverage for health care needs, I have put in the work year after year to address these struggles. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee I have secured funding in the budget for impactful investments in our health care system and to grow our workforce pipeline. I will bring this focus on health care policy and necessary funding to Congress, and will work with my colleagues – as I have always done – to make these needed changes a reality, and work towards Medicare For All.

It is clear that our country is in the midst of a crisis. Our democracy is more fragile than it has ever been. Women’s rights are under attack. Voting rights are under attack. Social safety nets like Medicare and Social Security are under attack. Gun violence and mass shootings have become normalized. We are experiencing a climate emergency with chaotic weather patterns wreaking havoc across the nation. Inflation and stagnant wages are impacting working families – leaving them to choose between paying their mortgage, rent and bills and feeding their families. We need to do better. We have a Congress that no longer talks to each other – and the ones who suffer for it are all the rest of us. I know that it’s going to take one of us to make a difference for all of us. And that is why I am running for Congress!

So much is at stake for Rhode Island and the nation. In this Democratic Primary Special Election, we have the opportunity to do something historic. We can elect someone to Congress who actually lives the issues that everyday Rhode Islanders face – someone who knows what it’s like to come from nothing in pursuit of the American Dream. We can elect a working class mother who has a long record of standing up for working families, seniors, and marginalized communities. Identity isn’t everything, but representation really does matter. I pledge to be your voice in Washington, and I hope you’ll stand with me.

I am asking for your vote in the Special Election on Tuesday, September 5th.

In service,


PS. I’d love to talk with you! Feel free to reach me at 401-374-2036 or

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