Members of the Latino community gathered at the state Capitol last week to let the three gubernatorial candidates know they represent 14 percent of the state’s population and will not be ignored.
“At the end of the day we are going to decide what the next governor and the next General Assembly looks like,” Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation, said last Thursday.
According to the U.S. Census there are more than 500,000 Latino residents in Connecticut. However, figuring out how many of those residents are registered voters is a little tricky.
State officials estimate there are 110,000 to 149,000 registered Latino voters in the state, based on a survey of surnames.
Ingrid Alvarez-DiMarzo, head of the Hispanic Federation in Connecticut, said she believes there are far more Latino voters than the 149,000 reported by the state.
She said she’s not counted as a Latino voter because DiMarzo doesn’t fall into the surnames used to estimate the number of registered voters.
“It’s very subjective, not objective,” Alvarez-DiMarzo said. “. . . That is a gross under-representation of how many Latino voters are in the state.”
Alvarez-DiMarzo said she feels all three gubernatorial candidates have ignored her community both in campaigning at the grassroots level and with paid advertisements.
“They haven’t been present enough in our communities. They need to do more,” Calderon said.
However, all three gubernatorial campaigns feel they are paying attention to the needs of the Latino community.
“Each day across the state, we are engaging Latino families, at the doors, over the phones, and through paid media,” Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said.
He said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a $10.10 minimum wage bill, the DREAM Act — which allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges — and legislation that will give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to obtain a drivers license.
As part of its outreach to the Latino community, Malloy is bringing in Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Javier García Padilla on Tuesday. Puerto Ricans make up 55 percent of Connecticut’s total Latino population.
On Saturday, former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno will visit New Britain and Waterbury with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley.
On Friday, Foley said he, too, is paying attention to the Latino community.
He said he’s done interviews with Univision and is running “Hispanic radio ads.”
“I’ve been in the Bridgeport community and Hartford, a little less, and New Haven, talking to people in the Hispanic community — small business owners,” Foley said.
Third-party candidate Joe Visconti said he’s spending time in urban areas and was the only candidate to attend the first annual independence ball for the Dominican Republic in January.
He said he’s filled out several questionnaires sent by Latino groups to his campaign, but he hates to pander. He also was apologetic for not having a Spanish-language version of his website available to voters.
But regardless of those efforts, the Hispanic Federation said the candidates haven’t been present enough in Latino communities.
“They need to do more,” Calderon said.
Specifically, the Hispanic Federation, which includes 11 local organizations, released a list of 125 recommendations for Connecticut’s next governor.
The recommendations include ways the state can better support Latino-centered nonprofit organizations, improving education, supporting healthy lifestyles by recognizing serious health disparities exist between Latinos and the general population, helping new immigrants “integrate, and contribute and succeed in Connecticut,” and improve economic security through a number of job programs.
The federation plans to remind 100,000 Latino voters to turn out and vote on Nov. 4.