Organization Aims To Boost Latin Leadership
Jacob Ogles, Jacob.Ogles@srqmediagroup.com
Census estimates indicate roughly a fifth of Sarasota’s population claims an Hispanic heritage, but political involvement by that community remains remarkably low. A new non-profit is trying to change that.
Former Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirshner is working to launch Unidos Now, an organization focused on increasing the political voice of Hispanics. “We need to start engaging the community in a nonpartisan fashion,” he said. “If we have such population growth and are not embracing that and drawing it in, that’s going to have deleterious effects on the quality of government.”
Kirschner, who in the past has tried to actively get more Hispanic voters involve in City politics, was discouraged when Sarasota officials established citizen oversight committees in response to a police scandal which involved treatment of an Hispanic person, then there were no applications from any Hispanics living within the City limits to participate on the boards.
He also noted that Sarasota saw a remarkably low turnout among Hispanics in the recent City elections. A District 1 Commissioner race in May drew out just 23 Hispanic voters, which was just 5 more than participated in a March election in that district.
“We have a really large legal Hispanic population, but few of them are even registered (to vote), and the participation rates among those voters is very low,” he said.