When running to become New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio saw an administration that wasn’t fitting a diverse city it was meant to serve and promised to make his administration more inclusive in-regards to various communities located within the city. However, since taking office there are groups who are challenging whether Mayor de Blasio has kept to his promise.
One group in-particular coming out against the mayor are Latinos.
Among a collective of Latino community advocates and organizers, the Campaign for Fair Latino Representation are claiming that the current administration is underrepresented when it comes to Latinos and its committee has been created in order to hold the mayor responsible for the lack of Latino representation.
“We are community leaders, professionals, business people, and educators,” said Janet Alvarez one of the members of the committee. Apart from describing the members of the committee, Alvarez also discussed what they intend to do, “I would like to see this mayor engage our community, and create policies that address our concerns.”
Organizers within the group are hoping to get a one-on-one meeting with Mayor de Blasio so they can discuss the lack of Latino representation within the city’s government.
“We voted for him, we are his constituents,” added Alvarez. “We were there for him, and we want him to be there for us too.”
According to the 2010 Census, Latinos within NYC make up 28% of the population and when it comes to the number of Latinos who voted for de Blasio in the 2013 Elections an estimated 85% of Latinos voted him into office.
Now, when you take the numbers of Latinos who voted for the mayor and compare them to the number of Latinos he has appointed to administrative positions there are only 11% of appointed Latinos. This estimation is a lower than the representation of Black, Asian, and White Americans within his administration, according to findings by the National Institute for Latino Policy.
The formation of the committee has garnered some attention within the press these past few months. Since forming and trying to get their purpose covered within the news, the committee has successfully created an atmosphere or at least shown that the Mayor has a “Latino Problem” on his hand.
In an interview back in November, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, responded to such an idea of there being a problem by stating there was none and disputed it claiming de Blasio had appointed quite a bit of Latinos into key positions within his administration than his predecessor Michael Bloomberg.
In-response to the committee, the mayor’s office has not responded directly to the committee. However, the First Deputy Press Secretary to the Mayor Marti Adams has told news sources that the Mayor is committed to increasing the representation of not only Latinos but Black, Asian, and Pacific Islander Americans within his administration.
“We have been very clear in our intention to build an administration that is representative of all New Yorkers and we are proud of the diverse team that we have built to date,” said Adams, “There is always more we can do to increase diversity, and we won’t stop until we ensure that progress continues to be made.”
So far, de Blasio has appointed several Latinos to city government posts: Carmen Fariña as the Schools Chancellor, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as the Deputy Mayor, and Gladys Carrión as the Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services. Also, there have been 3 Latino appointments to the city’s Commission on Human’s Rights.
However, these appointments according to the members of the committee are hiding a far greater problem believing the appointment of a few into high positions is merely a distraction tactic.
“Whenever you get to the point that you can mention the one to four Latinos that got appointments, that shows the problem that we have,” said Anthony Miranda, Executive Chairman of the National Latino Officers Association. “I always challenge people to name all the white appointments that have been made, and no one can ever name all those names. But Latinos, you can name them on one hand.”
Since taking office, de Blasio has been accused of being insensitive when it comes to Latinos in the city. From showing up late to a memorial service being held for the victims of Flight 587 which angered members of the Dominican community to the Mayor opting to skip the funeral of Herman Badillo, the former congressman and borough president of the Bronx, there’s been questions regarding de Blasio’s sentiments regarding the community that played a large hand in his becoming the city’s Mayor.
When looking at the policies that de Blasio has pushed forth—like Universal Pre-K and low-income housing—that generally helps not only the Latino community both others as well, the committee approve of what the Mayor has done and are impressed with it. However, they feel in other places—like immigration—the Mayor could show some effort considering his has supported reform so much so in the past but not as much today.
But is it an intentional lack of sentiment or care for appointing enough Latinos into positions that would provide representation for the community at large? Or is it just the way any government administration is manned where any group may feel ignored in order for there to be a fair ground of representation?
Whatever may be the reason for there not being a more Latino presence within his administration, de Blasio will continue to be the committee’s target. Not trying to bring the Mayor down or defame him, the group largely wants to be heard and prevent a wall from being set down before Latinos that would keep the community at a great disadvantage. But there should be common interest that while Latinos are not ignored other groups are also given a place and have a presence for themselves.