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Latino elected officials gather at State House

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Latino elected officials gather at State House
State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez addresses a gathering of Latino elected officials at the State House.

When Jeffrey Sanchez was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, he was one of three Latinos serving in that body. Across the state, few Latinos held any elected office.

Now there are seven Latinos in the Legislature, and in the most recent elections, Latinos won seats on city councils and school committees in cities and towns throughout the state.

Meeting with a group of about 50 Latino elected officials, Sanchez marked the progress Latino candidates have made.

“We’ve increased by 300 percent in five years,” he said.

Working with other Latino officials Sanchez convened the State House meeting to welcome the new elected members and let them know what resources are available to them. The meeting included presentations from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

State Representative Byron Rushing said the growing number of Latinos in the State House prompted the caucus of black legislators to change its name to the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.

“It was clear to us that it made the most sense to bring the Latino and African American caucuses together,” he said. “It’s an important alliance. We have to keep it together and it has to get stronger.”

Rushing also noted that black, Latino and Asian elected officials in Boston meet regularly.

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Executive Director Arturo Vargas said the proliferation of Latinos in elected office in Massachusetts is mirrored in communities around the country, as more and more Latinos reach voting age.

“Latinos are making electoral gains all over the country,” he said, pointing to cities ranging from Seattle, where two Latinos were elected to the city council, and Wilder Idaho, where voters elected an all-Latino city council. “It’s happening everywhere.”