March 11, 1992
By Yolanda Reynolds
Henry Cisneros, former Mayor of San Antonio Texas, joined the Latino Issues Forum of Santa Clara County at a press conference at which they announced the Forum’s 1992 Voter Education Project.
Pete Carrillo, Forum President, pointed out the many achievements of the Forum in making government more accessible to the people. In 1991, the Forum added to its many successes when it led the effort that resulted in the successful districting of the San Jose Uniﬁed and San Jose/Ever- green Valley Community College Districts.
The Forum also played a leading role in determining the redistricted boundaries in City, County and State electoral jurisdictions that have just recently ended. Redistricting is a process that occurs every ten years, following the Nation’s decennial census.
Carrillo explained that it does no good to have these new District lines if the people do not vote. Henry Cisneros said that in the United States, a person’s vote is their voice. He reminded the press of the words of Willy Velasquez who coined the expression “su voto es su voz.”
Cisneros said that Latinos can position themselves to play a signiﬁcant role, not only in local issues, but in State and particularly national, politics. He said that key states such as California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida have very large Latino populations and that, if the Latinos are registered and if they vote, anyone running for office will have to “court the Latino vote” and more Latinos will be elected to ofﬁce.
Cisneros reminded those at the conference that in the United States change is brought about — not by guns and revolution – but by the votes the ballot boxes. He said “peep voting make the difference.”
Cisneros explained the importance of every vote. He pointed out that there have been some very important elections in which just a few votes have made the difference. He gave as an example, President Kennedy’s election, which actually depended, he said, upon one vote in every precinct in the country.
Cisneros said that he hoped that citizens would go beyond voting an actively get involved in the community by volunteering; and that they should give something back to their community.
In San Jose, the Hispanic population count is 208,388 and makes up 27% of San Jose’s total population. Of the 200,000 Latino’s in San Jose, 136,393 are 18 years old and older.
The City Council Districts with the largest number of Hispanics are: District 5 (21%), District 3 (20%), District 7 (16%). District 4 (6%) with another 37% of the total Hispanic population residing in the remaining 6 districts of the City.
Voter registration and participation has been notoriously low in some communities. In San Jose, out of the total Latino population, only 57,230 are currently registered to vote and of that number only 20% actually vote.
The Latino Issues Forum is determined to change that. Bea Robinson. Director of the Latino Issues Forum, said that already 100 volunteers have signed up to help in the voter registration drive.
Pete Carrillo, President of Latino Issues, said that they are coordinating their voter registration drive with other voter registration efforts that are underway by such groups as the San Benito/Santa Clara Counties Central Labor council, the United Democratic Campaign and the pro Stadium Campaign, the latter of which hopes to register 10,000 new voters who will vote for the stadium.
Mayor Hammer explained that, besides having more registered voters by the June and November elections. she was very hopeful that the Latino community would vote in favor of the proposed stadium.
The Forum explained that their program is a multi-phased approach, which will focus on “an intense civic education/media campaign, a targeted voter registration drive and a dual get out the vote effort.”
The Forum expects that their voter registration drive will need $90,000 and they are seeking donations. They hope to register 6,000 new voters.
The Latino Issues Forum can be reached by calling (408) 236-7239. © La Oferta Newspaper.