Twenty-seven-year-old Marlon Trigueros is a devout Christian. He spends his nights and weekends volunteering in his church, Ministerios Juda – tutoring children or preaching in parks. During the week, he works at a lumber yard. He spent a recent Sunday afternoon in Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights with a small group of friends.
On the edge of the park, they set up a loudspeaker and preached in Spanish to the non-existent crowd. Even though no crowd stood witness, Trigueros and company smiled and laughed as the afternoon sun began to wane.
The Huntington Park native says neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is the right presidential candidate. He perceives Trump as misogynistic and selfish, and says Clinton has made too many mistakes. Trigueros plans to vote for a third-party candidate in November.
Although Trigueros describes himself as a conservative person, he has voted Democrat in the past two presidential elections. He was first eligible to vote in 2008 and supported then-Sen. Barack Obama. In 2012, he did the same.
In the California primary, Trigueros voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, but now, he's looking beyond the Democratic Party.
"I know there are other parties that can provide a good option to run this country," Trigueros says.
Trigueros has shaped his political philosophy around two main issues: religious freedom and immigration. Both are extremely personal for him. For Trigueros, religious freedom extends beyond his own faith.
"A lot of people think that because we're Christians, we're going to vote for whoever is the most conservative, whoever is going to put up Christianity in this country," he says. "But what makes this country great is that so many people from every walk of life are able to come here and practice beliefs in a free manner."
As for immigration, Trigueros is the son of Salvadoran immigrants who came to America during the Salvadoran civil war and who are now naturalized citizens. He has many friends who immigrated illegally to the U.S. in search of better opportunities.
Trigueros says stereotyping immigrants as "thieves or murderers or rapists" is especially unfair. He says most immigrants are hard-working people who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their children.
Trigueros wants the next president to adopt a system that would make it easier for immigrants without criminal records to become taxpaying citizens or residents.
These beliefs attracted Trigueros to Sanders, who he says fought for the rights of average Americans.
"I was really rooting for Mr. Sanders. I believe that he had such honesty and such a belief of what he wanted for this country," Trigueros says. "He was not looking out for big business. He was not looking out for himself. He was genuinely looking for a change in this country."
Left without his original candidate, Trigueros says he will be voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson because he is a "more befitting candidate than Trump or Clinton." He sees this election as an opportunity to reform the two-party system that has dominated American politics for decades.
As for his hopes for the future, Trigueros keeps it simple: "I would like to see people be more at ease, be able to live in this country – the land of the free, the home of the brave – and for them to have that peace and that American experience that a lot of times those who were born here take for granted."