4/7/09

LI's 20 Latino Pols = shocking under-representation

The roster of Latino elected officials on Long Island increased by three in the last month to a total of twenty. Hurray!

(Now we need to elect 313 to reach parity with Whites!)

The newbies are:

1) Julissa Ferreras , Queens D , NYC Council
2) Livio Tony Rosario, Village of Hempstead Board of Trustees
3) Carmen Piñeyro, Village of Freeport Board of Trustees

It's progress -- although Latinos have a long way to go to achieve anything resembling fair representation. For example, there are about 800 White elected officials across Long Island (village, town, county, city, state and federal) excluding special districts and school boards. With a population of 3.6MM, Whites are represented on a ratio of about 4500:1. That compared to the 75,000:1 for Latinos (n=1.5MM). African Americans (n=1.7MM) do better at 41,000:1.

Include school boards and special districts and the White representation ratio drops below 2,000:1. Add in appointees on government commissions, nonprofit boards and business associations and the racial/ethnic representation gap grows exponentially.

This is not to advocate racial or ethnic proportional representation. There are wonderful examples of politicians very ably representing diverse constituencies. And then there are 'machine' politicians of all shades that are more interested in serving themselves and their political bosses.

Nonetheless, it is not healthy in a multi-ethnic community for one group to have so small a voice into the affairs and policies of government. A glaring example of the problems under-representation creates can be seen in the dismissive attitudes of Suffolk County officials to hate crimes against African Americans and Latinos. Another example--which no one talks about--is the distribution of government funding and philanthropic grants.

Long Island's 20 Latino elected officials:

Anthony Jimenez, City of Glen Cove Council
Carmen Piñeyro, Village of Freeport Board of Trustees
David Mejias, Nassau County Legislature
Diana Reyna, Brooklyn, City Council
Felix Ortiz, Brooklyn, NY Assembly
Hiram Monserrate, NY Senate
Jorge A. Martinez, Village of Freeport Board of Trustees
José R. Peralta, Queens, NY Assembly
Julissa Ferreras, Queens, NYC Council
Livio Tony Rosario, Village of Hempstead Trustee
Maria-Christina Poons, Town of North Hempstead Council
Mark A. Bonilla, Town of Hempstead, Town Clerk
Martin Malavé Dilan, Brooklyn, NY Senate
Nydia Velázquez, Brooklyn-Queens, U.S. Congress
Phil Ramos, Suffolk, NY Assembly
Ricardo Montano, Suffolk County Legislature
Sara M. Gonzalez, Brooklyn, NYC Council
Tony Martinez, Town of Babylon Council
Vito J. Lopez, Brooklyn, NY Assembly
Vivian Viloria Fisher, Suffolk County Legislature
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