Angelo Falcon, president of the non-partisan policy center, the National Institute for Latino Policy, agrees. He says the issues that New York Latino families care about are the same issues that most other New Yorkers have on their minds: income inequality, a sound economy that offers good paying jobs, working public education, affordable housing, the end of stop and frisk policies that target young men of color, access to good healthcare, and even immigration. Will New York City continue to be a haven for immigrants as it has historically been?
Falcon says that under the billionaire Bloomberg administration Latinos have faired well and this election offers an opportunity to be in the dialogue.
“What has happened with Latinos in the past decade is that we have not been at the table in major decisions,” he explained. “One of the striking things about the Bloomberg administration is the near absence of Latinos in policy making decisions--of the eleven deputy mayors and executives-- he has only one is Latina,” he explains. “Latinos are very under represented and she (Deputy Mayor Carol Robles Roman) is not part of the inner circle.”
According to Falcon, the role Latinos play is problematic because the Latino community does not have people who will advocate for issues that matter to them. As an example, he said that even though Latinos are 29 percent of the population and are more than 40 percent of the poor, gentrification and rezoning threatens a lot of their neighborhoods and housing stock and no representative was at the table when decisions in those areas were made. In CUNY—the City University of New York-- he explained, there has been tremendous drop in Puerto Rican enrollment.
“When you go up and down issues that affect Latinos, the community continues to be at a disadvantage because we are not at the table. And, if you’re not on the table, you are on the menu,” he said. Adding, “We get killed twice.”
Falcon says that this is particularly an important time for Latinos to exert their voice.
“The only time that people listen to the Latino community is during election,” he says. “This election is a window that is an opening to negotiate stronger roles in helping to run the City.”