[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s a political force, Latino voters are making significant strides in the region, state and country. With the 2016 election around the corner, the Latino Policy Forum hosted its fifth annual Latinos on the Move policy breakfast.
Held the morning of Oct. 22 at the Union League Club of Chicago, “Latinos on the Move: Challenging the Present, Strengthening the Future,” featured a vibrant keynote discussion on the effects of a burgeoning Latino electorate with Cristóbal J. Alex, president of the D.C.-based Latino Victory Project; Jesús “Chuy” García, Cook County commissioner and moderated by WGN TV’s Lourdes Duarte.
“We’re at a pivotal moment in history for Latino political participation,” said Latino Victory Project President Cristóbal J. Alex. “Thanks to demographic changes and growing Latino political power, our issues – affordable education, healthcare, immigration reform, fair wages, and others – are front and center in the national and local policy and political debates. We must continue raising our voices and keep being part of the conversation. If we’re not at the table, we’re on the menu.”
As the Latino electorate continues to grow, so does its power and influence. In Illinois, their share of election-day voters rose from 6 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2012. More than 410,000 Latinos are registered to vote in Illinois. Nationally, 40 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2030, up from about 25 million in 2014. According to recent Latino Decisions analysis, a candidate can’t become president of the U.S. without winning more than 40 percent of the national Latino vote.
Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García reflected on lessons learned from his 30 years of public service. “Our communities are hungry for representation that reflects our city’s, state’s and nation’s demographics,” he said. “Latino voters will make their voices heard.”
Following the panel, special recognition was paid to this year’s recipient of the Champion of Change award, Maricela García, founding executive director of the Forum. She is CEO of Gads Hill Center, a community-based organization founded in 1898 that creates opportunities for children and their families to build better lives through education, access to resources and community engagement.
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