Developing the Latino agenda in NYC

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With five months to go before the municipal primaries, the campaign for mayor is beginning to take off. Now is the time for Hispanic leaders—elected officials, activists, advocacy organizations and the media—to put together an agenda of non-negotiable demands for the candidates for New York City mayor.

It is true that we Latinos share the problems of many other New Yorkers. But since we make up 30% of the population and are responsible for the highest demographic growth, there are issues essential to the community that the candidates must recognize and take into account.

The question is: What are our priorities as a community, and what specific measures can be implemented in the next four years to address these priorities and help all Hispanics get ahead in this city?

Some of our current issues, like making paid sick days mandatory or decreasing unfair fines imposed on street vendors, have gathered momentum in this election campaign. But this only happened thanks to sustained, coordinated action from various groups.

On more challenging issues, such as improving academic achievement among Hispanic students, the candidates must be held to a high standard and present a detailed plan. Latinos account for 40% of students in public schools, so our community can’t be relegated to a bullet point in a campaign platform.

Other issues that matter to the community, like guaranteeing more Hispanic representation at the top of the municipal government, are still absent from the conversation in this campaign season.

The point of developing a Latino agenda is not just for the candidates to focus on and prioritize our needs. It also gives Latino voters a stake in this election and motivates them to get involved.

We must go public with specific plans for our community. Candidates are seeking ways to keep their names in the race, but they won’t address us directly unless we ask them to and make it clear that they can’t take our votes for granted.