Ismael Fernandez grew up in Wilder, Idaho, a town of 1,700 souls surrounded by tall hop plants and stubby alfalfa fields.
He lived with his grandparents in a home built on land where his grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran, once picked beets and onions.
When Fernandez was 19, he was elected to the city council. On his first day in office, in 2015, he stepped up to the short dais in Wilder City Hall and sat alongside the four other council members. A local reporter noticed something no one else had: There were five Spanish surnames on the council members’ nameplates. Almazan. Rivera. Godina. Garcia. Fernandez. The story soon went national. For the first time ever in Idaho—a state where non-Hispanic whites make up 82 percent of the population—voters had elected an all-Latino city council.