News Column

Boston Pols Fight Over Hispanic Voters

July 24, 2013
hispanic vote

Top-tier mayoral candidates are slugging it out for the coveted Latino vote across the Hub -- targeting neighborhood strongholds, hitting festivals, courting top activists -- and hoping to siphon away support from community leaders rallying around Councilor Felix G. Arroyo's bid to be the city's first Hispanic mayor.

Alejandra St. Guillen, executive director of the statewide Latino political group Oiste, said the organization has unleashed an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign. While St. Guillen is backing Arroyo personally, Oiste is screening candidates and will make an endorsement next month.

"All the candidates would do well to reach out to the Latino community because it is a significant voting bloc," St. Guillen said.

Oieste said there are 42,000 eligible voters among the more than 100,000 Latinos in Boston, but only about 21,000 are registered. In the 2009 mayoral election, only about 30 percent of them turned out, but more than 60 percent voted in the 2012 presidential election.

St. Guillen said the goal is to get 5,000 more registered and to boost turnout for this mayoral race to the numbers that turned out in the 2012 presidential race.

In addition to St. Guillen, Arroyo has drawn the support of leaders such as Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, CEO of IBA, a community building agency at Villa Victoria in the South End; and Jaime Rodriguez, president of the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Association.

"I'm really honored that leaders in the community are supporting us," Arroyo said. "It's part of who I am. ... It's really humbling."

Boston Marathon hero Carlos Arredondo -- who famously held a tourniquet in place as he wheeled bombing victim Jeff Bauman from the attack scene -- is also backing Arroyo.

"It's difficult with so many candidates, but it's important as a Latino to support him," Arrendondo said. "He's a great role model for us all."

John F. Barros, a former School Committee member of Cape Verdean descent, said he's also been targeting Latino voters, including the roughly 28 percent that make up his Dudley Square neighborhood.

"I see them as an important part of my base," Barros said. "We're going to go hard after the Latino vote -- no question."

Councilor Michael P. Ross, who lives in Mission Hill, a neighborhood with a strong Latino contingent, recently picked up the backing of Latino activist Carmen Pola and attended an event with her last weekend at Villa Victoria.

"I believe I'll be very competitive in the Latino community," Ross said, noting that he's always had a Spanish-speaking staffer at his City Hall office.

Other candidates are targeting Latino voters as well, including state Rep. Martin J. Walsh, who was also stumping at Villa Victoria last weekend and will be marching in Sunday's Puerto Rican Day parade.


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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013

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