ATLANTA - Sam Zamarripa, a Democratic senatorial candidate for Georgia's District 36, on Tuesday became the first Hispanic senator in the state's history.
Zamarripa, who was not challenged by any Republican candidates, will take his seat in the state senate next year.
In the first round of elections on Aug. 20, Zamarripa placed second behind Brenda Muhammad, but he defeated her in Tuesday's runoff balloting by 387 votes.
"This is an historic moment for the state of Georgia, it's a very important day for the Hispanic community," said Zamarripa, who noted that he was proud to be representing that community. Zamarripa, an investment banker of Mexican-Irish background, said he felt in tune with the needs and problems of the state's Hispanics and, although his district is not primarily Hispanic, he said he would attempt to help its Latino community. "Sixty percent of the people in my district are black. Hispanics make up less than 2 percent, that's why I want to be a bridge between these two communities," he said. "Every day on the streets, in the restaurants and construction sites I see the black and Hispanic communities sharing work and common places. I also see them sharing problems such as needs for education and health care," he noted. Zamarripa and Vernadette Ramirez, a Republican who lost the race for secretary of state, were the only two Hispanic candidates who reached the runoffs. Ramirez was defeated by Charlie Bailey, who received 60 percent of the vote.
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