As the May 21 election looms closer, the candidates for mayor of Los Angeles, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel, both democrats, on May 4 participated in a forum where they were asked to explain their positions and answer questions from the Hispanic community.
The forum was sponsored by the Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), National Council of La Raza, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and La Opinión newspaper.
“What makes this forum special is that is that it’s for the community and the questions that are being asked come from the different Latino communities in the city,” Mónica Lozano, executive director of Impremedia and editor in chief and executive director of La Opinión, told Efe. “They are not necessarily political questions, but quality of life questions that affect everyone,” she said.
The forum included the participation of Fernando Guerra, director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University; Lolita López, KNBC4 reporter, and La Opinión reporter Pilar Marrero. The group asked candidates questions submitted by different Hispanic community groups in Los Angeles. ABC7 Reporter Carlos Granda served as the forum’s moderator.
“Latinos have to get out and vote, and that’s why we have to talk to the community about what matters to them,” Guerra told Efe, noting that while “nearly 29 percent of all registered voters in the city are Latino, only 23 percent of those who voted in the primary were Latino.”
Presenting similar statements, the two mayoral candidates claimed among other things that they seek to give a greater share of civic participation to the Hispanic community; will work to improve the education of Latinos, especially in the poorest areas; and boost job creation and promote quality education and preparation of Hispanics.
Greuel said that if elected she will seek to “give minority women the opportunity to obtain the necessary resources to develop and offer young people a proper education to get a good job.”
Meanwhile, Garcetti told Efe that his platform is an opportunity for suggestions: “We have problems in the city, in education as well as in public transportation and the economy, this is an opportunity to give me ideas,” he said.
“And that’s my story: I represent a district whose population is mostly Latino and this is also an opportunity to give me your views on the future of the city.”
Both candidates offered to allocate more resources for adult classes and to integrate community programs to support benefits from the immigration reform law that would allow immigrants to legalize their immigration status.
Garcetti called attention to his Hispanic heritage and said he identifies with this community.
“My grandparents were from northern Mexico, Chihuahua and Sonora,” Garcetti said in Spanish. “But I don’t want your vote just because I speak Spanish,” he added, stating that he understands the needs of the Hispanic community and that, if elected, he will continue to work to meet those needs.
According to Lozano, the forum was a good opportunity to remind politicians of the concerns of the Hispanic community and to “not take for granted” the Latino vote will be in their favor.
The results of a survey conducted by research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and released last week, showed Garcetti with a one-point lead over Greuel among all Los Angeles voters.
“Although we are voting more, the policies of these elected officials do not always represent the concerns of the community,” said Impremedia’s director.
Lozana said La Opinion, Impremedia and other media outlets’ associated with the “Tu opinion cuenta” (“Your opinion counts”) campaign—which was used in part to collect questions for the forum—is looking to “lift voices and present them to the people elected officials who have influence and can make decisions.”
Lozano said they want to “ensure they respond in a more relevant way to the needs of the community.”