Ballots have now been mailed, and in a few weeks we will know the results of Salt Lake City’s mayoral race.

As a gay man, a Native (American Indian), and a current constituent of state Sen. Luz Escamilla, I have been grateful for her consistent advocacy and allyship.

In February 2016, I attended the committee hearing on SB 170, a bill to recognize Indigenous

Peoples Day. In that meeting, I listened as questions and comments were shared that made me feel as if we, the indigenous peoples, had to justify our existence in the room. That is until Escamilla championed our cause.

She spoke thoughtfully and powerfully as she advocated for a community that wasn’t her own. That was the first time I felt I had a voice at the capital.

Before it was trendy to do so, and at great personal risk, Escamilla worked bravely to empower me and my community. She gives voice to the voiceless, even when it is unpopular with members of her church or her colleagues at the capital. I’m saddened to see Escamilla leave the state Senate, but very excited to see what her leadership will do for our capital city.

Braidan Weeks, West Valley City, is the state director of the Ute Land Trust and host for KRCL’s “Living the Circle of Life.” Opinions shared do not reflect those of ether organization.