Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Fred Des Posorio, who immigrated from Peru at age 17, says that if he is elected a state senator, he'll aim to serve all groups and ethnicities.

PROVO — Fred Des Posorio doesn't fit the typical mold for a Utah County politician. While he is a member of the LDS Church and calls himself conservative, that's about all he has in common with most candidates campaigning around Provo this election season.

At age 17, Des Posorio, a Democrat running for State Senate District 16, immigrated from Peru to live with his aunt.

"My parents sent me here, especially my father, to take me out of Peru in a time of dictatorship," Des Posorio said.

Five years before his arrival in the United States, Des Posorio had witnessed the overthrow of Peru's elected president, Fernando Belaunde Terry, by Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado.

"I know what dictatorship used to be, and what it is, and the restriction of liberty and freedom," he said. "I learned to value democracy here, and it's something I take in my heart and life everywhere I go."

Des Posorio now works for Centro Latino, an organization that helps Latinos seeking financial and legal advice.

"There are a lot of Hispanics and immigrants that need help, a lot of people immigrating to Utah from all different states," he said. "Sometimes they get into trouble, have problems with their citizenship. We help those who qualify under the immigration laws with gaining citizenship."

Des Posorio is a divorced single father of five children — two boys and three girls ranging in age from 11 to 22. He says it was hard at times to balance work and family.

"It was a challenge as a father, but I can say that I raised them with family and traditional values," he said. "They are a great support to me."

Remarrying is something Des Posorio has considered, but he recently realized he's probably too devoted to his causes.

"I want to give more time to what I want to achieve," he said. "I'm engaged to politics."

Des Posorio was a double-major in international relations and political science at BYU, settling in Provo after his graduation in 1982. Before coming to Centro Hispano in 1992, he worked for the LDS Church Education System as a regional coordinator.

Des Posorio says if he's elected, he'll focus on serving all groups and ethnicities, including immigrants.

"I am a Latino, but I want to represent the native people of America, as well as the immigrants," he said. "Our leaders have to keep their eyes open. We have to get integrated and find solutions, not just close our eyes and say, 'Get out of here.' Realistically, it's going to be hard to do that, so we have to find solutions."

For Des Posorio, part of that solution is breaking down party barriers.

"I think people here identify more with conservatism than Republicanism," he said. "I think if we (Democrats) never stand up for an issue and raise our voice, there will always be one party (dominating Utah)."

One of Des Posorio's main goals as a politician is to unify people.

"I want Republicans and Democrats to treat each other as citizens and civilians," he said. "I can see, like John Kerry said, that we're all in the boat, so we all have to help each other."

Before Des Posorio can do that, he'll face another challenge — unseating Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo.

"I think I can win," Des Posorio said. "As I have talked to people, a lot of them have extended their hands and said they'll vote for me because they know me, and they go for the person."