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New boundaries cut incumbents

DATE OF EVENT: Tuesday, Aug. 8, 1972

DATE PUBLISHED: Wednesday, Aug. 9, 1972, in The Kansas City Times

Editor’s note: Paul G. Rojas, a machinist from Kansas City’s West Side, won the legislative primary in 1972. He ran unopposed in November to become the first Hispanic member of the Missouri General Assembly. The report of Rojas’ victory (below) was merely a part of the summary of the day’s results.

But an Aug. 13 story written by Henry Clay Gold, The Star’s Missouri correspondent, described Rojas as the state’s first Chicano representative.

The best memories in the business of politics cannot recall the election in Missouri of a Mexican-American to public office.

Finally, in this year of political quotas, Kansas City has joined the most “in” trend of the new politics by sending Paul G. Rojas to the Missouri House. Rojas, in the contemporary vernacular, is a Chicano. …

To bring the saga of emerging politics among Mexican-Americans here into clear focus, there are two other significant developments.

Rojas and his friends did not accept the candidacy of [Pat] Rios, who was backed by their traditional opponents in the 1st Ward. In showing their political muscle, Rojas and his friends endorsed Don L. Franke over Rios for County Legislature. In the 6th Precinct of the 1st Ward, which has the heaviest concentration of Mexican-Americans, Franke defeated Rios 138-120. …

Rojas can outdo Harry Wiggins, retiring western judge of the Jackson County Court, in exuding sincerity. He battles injustices and was in court shortly before the Tuesday election because the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners had overlooked the Southwest Trafficway that stood between his people and their precinct polling place.

Rojas lost in court but Mexican-Americans were at the polls in numbers that formed a waiting line outside the polling place at the 7 p.m. closing time. …

Rojas is a machinist on the night shift of the Bendix Corporation. He is active in community affairs on the West Side and said his wife and seven children are used to making sacrifices. …

Rojas, 36, is the son of parents who came here in 1923 from Jalisco, Mexico. His mother died when he was 4 years old, and his father died after Rojas had completed his education at De La Salle and Redemptorist high schools.