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Blind Fil Am lawyer running for city council in West Covina

Ollie Cantos, a blind Filipino American civil rights lawyer, is running for city council in West Covina, California.

Cantos is the son of Filipino immigrants and grew up in West Covina Inquirer.net reports. He has been blind since birth and was often bullied by other kids.

According to his Linkedin, Cantos graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned his law degree from Loyal Law School, Los Angeles, in 1997. After law school, he worked as a staff attorney at the Disability Rights Legal Center.

In 2004, Cantos began working for the U.S. Department of Justice in the civil rights division. He held several different roles in the division throughout the nine years he worked there. According to ABS CBN, he is currently serving as Special Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

“I’m just really honored to have served this country as a commissioned officer appointed directly by the President and I’m really grateful to have had the opportunities and also to work on a bipartisan basis to do whatever I can to make a difference for our community,” Cantos said, according to ABS CBN.

Cantos is also the adoptive father to blind triplets. According to PEOPLE Magazine, he began mentoring the triplets while working as a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. in 2010. He shares custody with their mother.

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed Cantos to work from West Covina. He says moving back has allowed him to find ways to make a difference in his hometown.

“I have seen the pitfalls of bureaucracy and the triumph of what happens when people work together so when I was approved to work out here in West Covina full time on a permanent basis, that has enabled me to direct my energy to making a difference right here at home,” he said, according to ABS CBN

Cantos is running to represent District 4 in West Covina, where the city’s population is 20 percent Filipino. According to his website, if elected, Cantos wants to work on “tackling homelessness, revitalizing public spaces, driving grassroots community involvement, increasing support for law enforcement to promote public safety, and attracting new investment to strengthen our local economy.”

The elections will be held on November 8.

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