Political parties at all levels, including in Monroe County, are reaching out to Latinos — an increasingly influential voting bloc.
Over the summer, former New York State Assembly candidate Peterson Vazquez founded the Latino National Republican Coalition of Monroe County. It's a local affiliate of the Latino National Republican Coalition, which aims to build GOP support among conservative Latinos and also focuses on getting them to run for office.
Monroe County's Latino population grew from 39,065 in 2000 to 54,005 in 2010, according to census data. The community's voting power has grown as well, though it leans Democratic.
But Vazquez says that Republican Party policies would benefit the Latino community and that their values often align. Some Latino voters may reject the GOP because of myths and misunderstandings about its positions, he says, and he wants to make sure that voters understand the Republican position on complex issues like the minimum wage.
"It's not that a Republican candidate, for example, doesn't want to solve the issue of poverty," Vazquez says. "We just have different views."
Vazquez says that he also sees an opportunity to increase the broader public's awareness and engagement in the electoral and political processes, as well as to increase understanding of the origins and positions of parties. Those efforts could be bipartisan and geared toward younger voters, he says, so when people cast a vote, they understand why they're casting it.
"We have to educate everybody, not just the Latino community," Vazquez says.
The Latino National Republican Coalition of Monroe County is holding a launch event at 8 a.m. on Friday, October 4, at Georgie's Bakery and Cafe, 857 South Clinton Avenue. State Assembly member Peter Lopez, a Republican from the Village of Schoharie, will be the guest speaker and state Republican Committee chair Ed Cox is attending as a guest. Tickets are $15 and available at www.lnrcmc.org/donate.