Reaching Latino Voters Is All About The Message

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As the population of Hispanics-Latinos increases in the United States, and with it the number of eligible voters, so does the debate on how to best reach them.

Some thought leaders favor spatial over racial voting techniques, arguing that what a candidate says is more important than who says it.

Democrats are re-evaluating their messaging to Hispanics-Latinos in this year’s midterm elections after the 2020 election saw a substantial vote shift, with 63 percent of Hispanic-Latinos voting for President Joe Biden, down from 71 percent of them voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Republicans are working to build on the success of former President Donald Trump, who made gains among Hispanic-Latino voters in 2020 compared with his 2016 performance. Trump increased votes in heavily Hispanic-Latino Hartford and Bridgeport by five and three percent.

Campaigns traditionally use symbolic cultural messaging like speaking a few words in Spanish, overemphasizing immigration reform, and playing mariachi music in order to engage the constituency. A mistake that ignores life experiences says Antonio Arellano, interim executive director of Jolt Action, a progressive organization in Texas that aims to increase Latino political engagement.

“Both political parties need to recognize that Latinx folks across the country have been here for decades, for centuries and have…for generations been overlooked, neglected and underrepresented,� Arellano told Time.

The assumption is that the Hispanic-Latino electorate is a monolith. As if, for example, what motivates Puerto Ricans in Willimantic, Connecticut to vote isn’t very different than Mexican Americans in Imperial County, California.

The nuances range in age, race, gender, religion, socio-economic status, political ideology and educational attainment. And since most of the more than 60 million Hispanics-Latinos in the U.S. are born in the country, many social scientists don’t believe language is a common barrier.

“For some Latino voters, it’s not that they don’t understand English,” said Valeriano Ramos, Director of Strategic Alliances, Everyday Democracy. “It is that they don’t identify with those candidates.” (CTLN) s participating in Advancing Democracy: Connecticut Solutions Journalism Initiative as part of eight reporting projects in 10 newsrooms across the United States. The six-month program is sponsored by the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN); its mission is to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems.

CTLN is exploring solutions to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country.

Studies find that messaging is paramount for Hispanic-Latino voters, especially when the candidate is not a member of the ethnic group. In Racial or Spatial Voting? The Effects of Candidate Ethnicity and Ethnic Group Endorsements in Local Elections, Cheryl Boudreau, Christopher S. Elmendorf, and Scott A. MacKenzie’s analysis demonstrate that candidates’ ideological positions powerfully shape voters’ choices in local elections, even when they must choose between candidates of different ethnicities.

The theory of spatial voting concludes that candidates take positions in an ideological space and that voters choose the candidate who is closest to their own ideological position. Thus, spatial voting produces a close alignment between voters’ policy views and those of the candidates they choose.

Boudreau, Elmendorf, and MacKenzie studied the 2011 mayoral election in San Francisco, a minority-majority population, as non-Hispanic whites comprise less than half of the people, 42 percent, according to the 2010 Census. The Asian population at the time was 33 percent, and Hispanics-Latinos were 15 percent. Incumbent Ed Lee successfully defeated John Avalos and Dennis Herrera to become the first elected Asian-American mayor of a major American city.

Their analysis indicates that Lee’s ideology strongly affected voters’ choices, even after accounting for the impact of race/ethnicity, partisanship, evaluations of local government performance, and other factors.

Gains and losses notwithstanding, most Americans eligible to vote in 2020 said they were contacted by a campaign or a group supporting a campaign in the month before the November election. Fewer Hispanic-Latino and Asian American citizens reported such contacts, according to the Pew Research Center. A mistake Republicans are working to make sure doesn’t happen again this year.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has opened Hispanic Community Centers across the U.S., including one in the city of New Britain. Overall, conservatives are aware that Democrats do better with Hispanic-Latino voters; the Integrated Communications and Research (ICR) poll found that 23 percent identify as Republican. So, the GOP is taking an active role in nurturing Hispanic-Latino support.

Ruben Rodriguez, Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Connecticut, leads the statewide efforts. “We need to change the way Latinos vote in Connecticut,” said Rodriguez.

Republicans are eyeing the 5th Congressional seat, the Governor’s seat, and the Senate seat. Democrats currently hold all. The party thinks the state is ready for change.

“As chairman of the group, the biggest goal is to increase the participation in all of the political levels. We want the candidates to represent the true value of what we want to bring,” said Rodriguez.

Trump was successful in mobilizing conservative Hispanics-Latinos in 2020. Republicans are focusing their messaging to Hispanics-Latinos on strengthening the economy, religious and traditional values.

“Our message of family, faith, and free enterprise is one that resonates with all people, regardless of race, creed, or religion,� said George Logan, a former Republican state senator running for the 5th district seat.

Whether engagement with Hispanic-Latino voters by candidates from either party focused on policy positions will be successful in resonating with them, one thing is certain; both need them to go out and vote. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task, as midterm elections typically result in lower turnout rates across all voting groups.

Cover Photo: Photo by cottonbro.


Call for applications: Journalism Camp 2

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is pleased to sponsor, once again, the Journalism Camp: Covering Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, a first-in-class 12-week program providing practical guidelines for fair and accurate storytelling.

The FREE virtual workshop led by award-winning news media veteran and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)Hugo Balta, returns after a successful launch last Fall. 

Six young journalists from across the country participated in the inaugural class. “I have nothing but good things to say about the camp,” said Stephania Rodriguez, a student at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois. “It exceeded my expectations by feeding my knowledge, allowing me to network and connect with others, and publishing my work.”

Boris Q’va had this to say about his experience, “I felt heard when I needed it the most.” Q’va is enrolled in the New Media Journalism Master of Arts degree at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. “All of the lectures were equally important to me, but I found myself thinking about Solutions Journalism, and how it builds trust with the public through transparency.”

SUGGESTION: Meet The 2021 Fellows

As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows were published on one or all of the Latino News Network news outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of the Latino News Network.

“It is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,” said Balta.

Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.

Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.

The Journalism Camp is open to all students (undergrad, graduate) in good standing.

The application process runs from May 1 to 29. The weekly class will begin on September 7.

For more information about HZF’s Journalism Camp curriculum, how to apply, and ask questions – please email us at hortenciazavalafoundation

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Organ Donation: A Birthday Story

“Cumpleaños feliz, te deseamos a ti,” our family sang “Happy Birthday,” to my wife, Adriana. “Cumpleaños felices,” we raised our voices as she celebrated another year with her new liver. Adriana had suffered from polycystic liver disease, a rare condition that causes cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to grow throughout the liver until the selflessness of a young woman saved her life.

Soon after the birth of our first child in 2003, my wife’s aggressive form of the disease became even more severe, deforming her organ further. A healthy liver has a smooth appearance weighing between three and three and a half pounds. Adriana’s polycystic liver looking like a cluster of large grapes, weighed just over 20 pounds when it was removed.

The enlarged liver displaced her other organs, complicating her overall health; Adriana would surely die without a transplant. Her medical miracle happened in her native Colombia. An organ donor, a woman who unfortunately died in an accident, was a match with Adriana.

In general, about 75 percent of people who undergo liver transplants live for at least five years, according to the Mayo Clinic That means that for every 100 people who receive a liver transplant for any reason, about 75 will live for five years and 25 will die within five years. Adriana celebrated 17 years with her new liver last November.

Adriana celebrates her birthday in April 2022

April is National Donate Life Month. Doctors and advocates say it’s more important than ever to bring attention to the need for organ donors. Approximately every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national waiting list.

I became an organ donor soon after Adriana’s liver transplant. Before then, I was like many Hispanics-Latinos, who are less likely to donate organs than Americans as a whole, according to organ donation experts. Hispanics-Latinos are disproportionately in need of donor organs and are less likely to consent to donation than their non-Hispanic counterparts, reports the National Library of Medicine.

“We have transformed the way that they’re thinking and looking at … organ transplantation,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Caicedo, organ transplant surgeon and the director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. In an interview on WTTW’s Latino Voices, Dr. Caicedo told me that his team of 50 medical professionals at Northwestern Medicine’s Hispanic Transplant Program helps break down language and cultural barriers in the Hispanic-Latino community. “To be able to do it in their own language – knowing their culture, because our team is bilingual and bicultural — and removing all the language barriers and cultural barriers, we have been able to engage them in a positive way,” he said.

Last year, nephrologists at Loyola University Medical Center told Adriana that her kidneys, which suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), were giving out. PKD is another inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within one’s kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time. As a result, Adriana is quickly reaching the point of needing dialysis. 

I quickly volunteered to be tested to see if I could be a living donor for my wife.

Transplant patients are often reluctant to consider an organ from their spouses because the organs may not be a good match in blood and tissue type. Poor matching can cause the recipient’s immune system to reject the organ.

But a report in the journal Dialysis and Transplantation found that kidney transplantation from spousal donors “has comparable outcomes to those of other living-unrelated donors, and shortens the time spent on the waiting list.�

Adriana and I on the town

Adriana is on that list, and the wait could be as long as three years. Happily, Adriana and I learned that I am a solid match to donate my kidney to her. We will have the surgery in June.

There are more than 100,000 people currently on the national transplant waiting list.

Current statistics show that Americans belonging to minority groups make up nearly 60 percent of those waiting for an organ transplant.  Although a transplant can be successful regardless of the race or ethnicity of the donor and recipient, there is a greater chance of longer-term survival for the recipient if the genetic background of the donor and recipient are closely matched.  

Please consider becoming an organ donor. Americans from every community are needed to help make a life-saving difference. Persons who register as organ donors can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 others.

Some of those donations can take place while you’re living. For example, living donors can give a lung, kidney, or part of their liver, which can almost regrow to its original size.

Next year, my family hopes to add a June birthday for Adriana, the first of many celebrating her new kidney, our family’s love, and the gift of life.

The post Organ Donation: A Birthday Story appeared first on ILLN.

MALN Opinion+: Roberto Jimenez

This week on MALN Opinion+ we spoke with Roberto Jimenez-Rivera who is running for State Representative of Massachusetts in the new 11th Suffolk District.

Jimenez-Rivera said that watching his mother, a former teacher, and his father, a funeral director, dedicate their careers to helping people in vulnerable positions taught him the importance of building community and valuing servicework. It essentially planted the seeds that would eventually sprout into the transition from a career in education to running for office.

“I kind of grew up knowing that caring for people and making sure that you’re there to help and support is one of the most important things that you can do,� he said.

His career in politics started in 2018, as a volunteer for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s first congressional campaign. 

“That was really the first time that I was able to see politics as a way to build the movement that’s ultimately gonna bring people together, to help us achieve what we know that we need for our people to move forward and have the opportunities that they need,â€� he said.

He decided to run for Chelsea School Committee in 2019, was elected and currently serves on the board. He says that if he was chosen as State Representative he would continue to vouch for better education for the children of Chelsea through funding, more minority representation in teachers and diversifying school curriculum to better reflect the lived experiences of students.

Being inclusive to Chelsea’s diverse citizens is important to Jimenez-Rivera who says that he has worked to ensure that his campaign is completely bilingual and accessible to multilingual families as well.

“Sometimes you have a couple where one of them speaks Spanish and the other one speaks both languages, and then the kids only know English, but then maybe the grandma lives there and she only speaks Spanish and so I think it’s really important to me that we’re prepared to engage with whatever household, whether it’s all English, all Spanish or somewhere in between, to make sure that we’re able to approach everybody,� he said.

Jimenez-Rivera speaks on the importance of candidates being both inclusive and hands-on in their attempt to reach people. He says that during his last campaign he personally knocked on one-thousand doors out of the two-thousand his team reached. He says that he hopes to double his outreach this time around and shares his excitement to speak with people face-to-face, listen to the issues that matter to them and let them know that he wants to help.

“I might not have the solutions to everything but together we can work on finding those solutions and I’m more than happy to do the homework and make sure that we are finding the solutions and advocating for them together with the people of this community, but also together with other communities that will want to partner with us, because they know that the solutions that we find will be good not just for this district but for everybody in Massachusetts.�

Resources mentioned in this video:

Campaign Website:

Roberto Jimenez-Rivera’s Twitter:

More information:


RILN Opinion+: Elliot Rivera

This week we spoke with Elliot Rivera, Executive Director of Youth in Action (YIA) in Rhode Island.

This is a non-profit that focuses on developing young leaders to advocate for change on important issues that impact their communities.

The pandemic caused previous issues such as poverty, accessibility to resources, lack of self-care, domestic violence, and youth homelessness to be amplified. Running this organization is highly influenced by the young generation. “Let’s let the young people decide. They know what’s going to work best for them,� explained Rivera. 

YIA challenges the status quo by providing education about important controversial topics. It is understanding how these issues are connected to one another that is the key to bringing leaders to their full potential. “If we really want the current generation and the next generation to be the best that they can be, we have to start letting those opportunities for leadership and practice happen now,â€� explained Rivera. Their mission is more than the work itself as it is about the camaraderie they have for each other and the greater community. 

The tools used to build leaders in YIA are the development of public speaking, conflict resolution, owning your story, teamwork, self-care, and advocacy work. The importance of self-care and caring for the community while learning the skills to accomplish their goals is what makes YIA unique. 

The fight for antiracism and cultural humility is what YIA advocates for in the education system. Ethnic studies have been lacking as marginalized groups are being misrepresented in the education system. Mental health, counseling, self-care, and community care need to be focused to better reflect all cultures and the concerns of parents and families. Every group faces very similar issues meaning it is important to educate those who are not part of the minority to understand their issues and support them. When one group is struggling it will affect everyone. 

We are pushed to believe that we are alone, but YIA is working to change that narrative. We are all in this together as we all have a role to play. 

Resources Mentioned: 

NHLN Opinion+: Cindy Coughlin

This week we invited Cindy Coughlin, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor at Catholic Charities New Hampshire.

Coughlin works with Spanish and English-speaking populations of all ages in the areas of mental health. 

The impact of the pandemic caused people to be disconnected from socialization opportunities. “There was an increase in depression and anxiety amongst teenagers and young adults,� explained Coughlin. The immigrant community faced severe mental health issues as they faced the uncertainty of attending work and attracting unwanted illnesses to their families as well as being unable to visit extended family in their home countries. The undocumented community continues to be fearful of reaching out to services.

A significant issue that communities of color face are having access to medical professionals who can speak the same language as they do. A lack of cultural sensitivity among professionals when serving marginalized groups causes them to steer away from these resources. Inspiring more ethnic minority students to pursue medical professional roles will contribute to alleviating negative stigmas around these resources. 

As we are exiting the pandemic we have yet to see the full impact on mental health. “Younger generations, as they get older will see effects of this period of lockdown and loss of routine over time,� explained Coughlin. People are reaching out for help more frequently and are taking strides for growth with the lessons learned from the pandemic. 

Catholic Charities strives to make affordable and accessible resources available to meet the needs of all families. The organization also makes an effort to make all voices heard. Therapy is for all people and not just for those with severe illnesses. It is the responsibility of all people to be understanding of all stories and seek the resources they need to succeed. 

Resources mentioned in the video: 

CTLN Opinion+: Marilyn Alverio

This week, CTLN Opinion+ had the opportunity to speak with Marilyn Alverio, the founder & CEO of Latinas and Power Corporation and the producer of the Latinas & Power Symposium annual event.

We had an informative discussion about Alverio’s motivation for creating Latinas and Power Corporation, the research report findings on Latinas’ barriers in today’s workforce, and her ultimate goal for connecting with women to become leaders.  

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Latinas and Power Corporation team released results from their report “The Latina Pathway to Excellence in a Post-Pandemic World,” showing women’s challenges in the workplace. 

Looking to support, motivate and inspire women and amplify Latinas’ voices in Connecticut and beyond, Alverio uses her report findings to create a leadership Institute that would enable Latinas to succeed as leaders and advocates.

“One of the inequities that we found is that Latinas often start off on a not leveled playing field, and so we are still dealing with challenges as it relates to cultural expectations,” said Alverio referring to the messages still heard in the communities that women should not exceed men in a corporate environment.

Marilyn Alverio is a nationally recognized expert and speaker in multicultural marketing. She is known for her work as the former National Director of Ethnic Marketing for a Fortune 100 company. As an entrepreneur, she led Ethnic Marketing Solutions for nine years, an agency that focused on strategic marketing for companies interested in learning about and tapping into multicultural markets.

She brings invaluable insights into the corporate arena and has laid the groundwork to increase and retain business in ethnic markets for numerous companies around the country. She has held multiple management positions within the airlines, pharmaceutical, education, financial, and health insurance industries for more than twenty years, applying her vast knowledge in strategic marketing and branding strategies. 

Alverio has been active in Connecticut communities for more than 30 years. She has served on or is serving as an advisory committee for the Connecticut Health Foundation, World Affairs Council, Spanish American Merchants Association Marketing team, Urban League of Greater Hartford, and United Way of Greater Hartford marketing committee. 

Latinas & Power is a non-profit organization that continues to grow at the local, national, and global levels with in-person and new virtual platforms throughout the world and a mission to develop influential leaders and community advocates.

Latinas & Power Symposium 2022 event is taking place on June 22nd in Hartford, Connecticut. 

Key points of discussion:

  • About Latina and Power Non-profit Organization
  • Discussion of “Latinas Pathway to excellence in a post Pandemic world” report
  • Process of report findings
  • Latinas Leadership Institute for 2023
  • The continued support for women in a corporate environment
  • Where to find the report


Here is the link to register through eventbrite.

The report can be downloaded on our website as well:

The organization is in the early bird stage so be sure to take advantage of the $50.00 off during this period.

Registration is $125.00 until May 13th

ILLN Opinion+: Robert Rodriguez

On this week’s episode of Illinois Latino News Opinion+, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, president and founder of DRR Advisors, joined us for a discussion about businesses measuring inclusivity and accepting accountability for the lack of Latinos in leadership roles. He also stressed the power in Latinidad and identity.

DRR Advisors is a firm that consults businesses in building various inclusion initiatives and Latino talent management programs. He has worked with many companies in industries spanning from banking to transportation and while their business ventures range, many of them operate with similar outlooks toward their Latino staff. He says that one of the common factors in the past has been a lack of accountability on the company’s end and the mindset that their Latino employees have not reached leadership roles due to their own issues that need to be “fixed.�

“‘Cause we’re not broke, I’m not fixing anybody but the companies that get it are the ones that say, Robert, help us. Help us as an organization that will create the conditions that nurture their success. Help us improve the systems that we have in place regarding identifying top talent, help us make sure that Latinos aren’t over mentored and under sponsored,� he said.

He says that now many more companies are taking accountability for the systems that have traditionally prevented Latinos from progressing.

Dr. Rodriguez also spoke about his personal struggle in forming his sense of identity as a Mexican-American growing up in the Midwest, and how entering corporate America complicated it further.

“I didn’t embrace my Hispanic heritage. I was never ashamed of it, I just didn’t see it as something that served me well,� he said.

Dr. Rodriguez says that he grew out of this mindset and realized the strength of his bicultural perspective that came from his Hispanic background. He says that he now encourages young Latinos to approach identity and ethnicity on their own terms.

“But what I tell folks is whatever your sense of identity is, you own it, you determine it. Don’t let somebody else determine it for you and as I talk to many young Hispanics, that’s what they’re finding,� he said.

As a writer, Dr. Rodriguez has converted these lessons he’s learned through personal experience and research into the written word, making the information he sought during the early stages of his career readily available for Latinos looking for guidance, something he says he did not have.

“And the reason I wrote it is ‘cause I think there was a story that needed to be told that we are a powerful community, that we contribute a lot to this society and that we are a callus for economic growth. Now that I’ve written three books, I’m super excited now to see more and more Latinos writing books and getting published because our stories need to be told and I’m glad that there’s an audience for those books,” he said.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Auténtico, Second Edition by Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Andrés T. Tapia

DRR Advisors’ Website:

Autentico: The Definitive Guide to Latino Career Success

The post ILLN Opinion+: Robert Rodriguez appeared first on ILLN.

Lighting The Spark – Community Leaders & Changemakers

“Practices of the old are not going to attract the talent of the new,� said Nina Pande, executive director of Skills for Rhode Island’s Future (SkillsRI). “Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a pronounced voice.�

Pande shared insights about how SkillsRI helps employers in reimagining recruiting for diverse candidates by questioning current practices and holding them (employers) accountable.

She was one of the special guests on the Lighting The Spark – Community Leaders & Changemakers panel hosted by the Verizon State Government Affairs team; moderated by Adriana Dawson, Community Engagement Director at Verizon. 

The program was held last month as part of International Women’s Day (March 8), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Pande and other guests are trailblazing women across the country driving change in their communities. From ending hunger to creating new educational and career opportunities to opening doors for small business owners, these women are helping their communities thrive.

A Target 12 analysis of labor statistics from 2018-2020 found that almost an equal number of men and women were employed in Rhode Island when the first COVID-19 infection was identified, reported WPRI.

By April 2020, amid sweeping shutdowns, employment plummeted 25 percent for women, while declining only 8 percent for men. Since then, male employment has largely recovered, while the number of women employed in Rhode Island remained 11 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

Since the COVID-19 began, Latinas have not only experienced disproportionately high unemployment rates, but they also are dropping out of the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic group.

A report published by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative reveals three main drivers to changes in the number of Latinas in the U.S. labor force since the beginning of the pandemic:

  • Latinas are disproportionately responsible for family care obligations versus Latino men, and they are more likely to stay at home than U.S. mothers of other racial backgrounds. That burden was exacerbated during the pandemic because of the closure of schools and day care centers.
  • A lack of access to education and training opportunities for higher wage opportunities disincentivizes Latinas’ participation in the labor force overall.
  • Latinas are disproportionately employed in leisure, hospitality and related low-wage industries that were particularly vulnerable to pandemic-related closures.

Dawson also hosts US Tech Future, a Verizon-led community-focused initiative working to engage the local community in a discussion about technology and how it can improve the lives of local residents for their benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole.

Adriana Dawson (she, her, hers, ella) is a nationally recognized leader with over 20 years of demonstrated impact at the intersection of community and business development.

Adriana leads the Verizon Foundation and social impact programming efforts in her markets. In this role she leads and expands Verizon’s partnership network, strategic investments, and collaborates up and across the business introducing new market opportunities. She is also the Partnerships and Volunteer Global Committee Lead for SOMOS, an enterprise-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) giving voice to Verizon’s 4K+ Hispanic/Latinx employees.

Ms. Dawson, a first generation Colombian American, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Northeastern University and holds a Master of Arts in Management Communication from Emerson College.

Young leaders need to run for office. Where are you?

Publisher’s Note: According to a 2015 report from Stateline and NCSL, the average age for a New Hampshire State legislator was 66—the highest in the country—while the average age in the state was 48. Data from the report also reveals that although millennials made up approximately 26% of New Hampshire’s 2015 population, they comprised only 1% of the state legislature. 

I had the opportunity to witness a State House Session last Thursday in Concord. Not going to lie, it is a pretty interesting event. I proceeded to find a seat in the Visitor’s Gallery. You get a powerful panoramic view of the Speaker pulpit and the members of the leadership for both parties.

Suddenly, I decided to look down and a wave of white hair from older State Representatives hit me, it was noticeable. I tried to find young Representatives, that look like me! By young I mean less than 35 years old. I counted 4 and to be honest they might be older than that. Then I thought why are college students or younger than 35 years old Granite staters not running for office? The answer is clear.

The system is not designed for young people to run for office. $200 a term? Who is paying for my rent? My gas? College expenses? It is hard.

Young Granite Staters need representation urgently. We have retirees walking all over our education. We have seniors, most likely not having more children passing legislation telling young women what to do with an unborn child.

Those halls are full of titles but empty of purpose. If you are young, ignore my feelings and run for office. It will be a sacrifice, believe me, but worth your efforts. We need urgent representation, otherwise, nothing will be left to fight for. 

Sebastian Fuentes speaks about being an immigrant in one of the “whitest” states in the country.

Cover Photo: The Chamber of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Publisher’s Note: Fuentes’ letter to the editor was first published by the Union Leader.

Hispanics-Latinos are the largest minority population in New Hampshire with 59,500 residents or 4.3 percent of the population, according to the University of NH.

Do you have something to say? We’re interested. Submit ideas for Opinion-Editorial essays and/or finished work to

Sebastian Fuentes is vice-chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus. Fuentes is an advocate for immigrant rights in the State of New Hampshire. He has spoken at multiple rallies, conferences, and panel discussions in order to raise awareness about the struggle of the Hispanic-Latino community in New Hampshire.