Vice President Joe Biden is no stranger to Latinos, and his campaign laid out an agenda this week that addresses important issues and concerns of the fastest growing demographic group in the country. He made it clear to Latinos in Iowa and around the country that he is the candidate for them.
“Latinos are one of the fastest growing populations in the country and contribute to all segments of our economy and culture. America succeeds when Latinos have the opportunity to enter the middle class and achieve the American Dream,” reads part of his agenda. “The Latino community is a core part of the American community and their contributions are evident in every part of society.”
On the national level, Biden for President Latino Leadership committee members include Hilda Solis, who previously served as a Secretary of Labor during the Obama administration, former Secretary of Interior Kenneth Salazar from Colorado, Congressman Ruben Gallego and Congresswoman from Texas Veronica Escobar.
Here in Iowa, School Board Member Rob Barron will head up state efforts.
In a virtual roundtable today, Biden’s campaign rolled out the Iowa Latino Leadership Council with twenty members from across Iowa, including Sara Huddleston, Lilián Sanchez, Barron and others.
Turning out the Latino vote has been difficult in the past, but that may change. The community has endured Trump’s vicious attacks and racist insults from the beginning of his campaign and throughout his presidency.
The deaths of caged children at the hands of private prisons and deaths of Latino immigrants made “essential workers” as the pandemic infected thousands in the agricultural sector have given way to a more determined Latino electorate to vote Trump out.
The document shared by Biden’s team outlines how he plans to address the needs of the community. It includes investing in Latinos’ economic mobility, expanding access to high quality education and tackling racial inequality in our education system. Additionally, his agenda plans to make far reaching investments in ending health disparities by race, securing our values as a nation of immigrants and combating hate crimes and gun violence.
“Joe Biden’s Latino Agenda stands boldly as among the most ambitious plans I’ve seen,” said Congressman Gallego. “As we reconstruct our identity and rebuild our economy, we’re going to do it in a way that underscores the success of the Latino community as part and parcel to our ability to thrive as a nation. And we’re going to do it by electing Joe Biden.”
To spread Biden’s vision for Latinos in each state, it will require local contacts and commitments. Barron spoke to Starting Line about his involvement with the Biden campaign.
“When I was asked to participate, I had to say yes because with this election I can’t say no. We have to win in November, and not only the presidency but, the Senate, House, State House. We must win these races”, said Barron.
Once he accepted the call to serve, Barron set out to recruit members for the Iowa committee. His ask to participants is that they help amplify Biden’s message and policy ideas throughout their personal networks.
He also said the campaign is led by good people and they are open to hearing from members of the committee on what to say, where to go and who to talk to. Those who joined are meant to represent many viewpoints in the Latino community across the state, and this is a group of people that will provide valuable guidance for the campaign in Iowa.
“Latinos are really motivated to vote against Trump and are willing to help in any way,” Barron said. “All the people I recruited might disagree on tactics and some are more progressive than others, but they just want to fix this. Many people on the council supported different Democratic candidates and different ways on seeing the world represented, but they all came on board to say, this is what matters right now, their support for Joe Biden right now.”
Barron hopes that this Latino outreach will be seen as meaningful in comparison to previous cycles where the timing of the Democratic Party’s engagement with the Latino community was usually towards the end of the cycle. He added that he is also hopeful that the committee’s guidance will be followed, and it will be helpful to our community.
According to Barron, this is possible only if this is a two-way street by having good people in the committee and the right people leading the campaign in Iowa, which he believes Biden does.
“For generations, Latinos have been the silent backbone of Iowa’s communities,” Sara Huddleston, the first Latina elected to public office in Iowa, said during the roundtable. “As we’ve grown, so have attempts from leaders like Trump to distract us from their own failures with divisive politics … Joe Biden knows our values, and he understands that ensuring that our collective success depends upon the success of the Latino community. That’s why I’m proud to support Joe Biden and his Latino agenda, which would ensure that as we rebuild our economy and our rural economies, we’re building back better together.”
Following the news of Biden’s Latino Agenda, Barron said he suspects Iowa will see a more serious effort to win the Latino vote from state to congressional campaigns, moreso than in years past.
Barron wants to be open to every different way to win those votes, so he wants people to reach out to him, to engage and talk. You can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Iowa steering committee are:
- Perla Alarcon-Flory, certified Spanish court interpreter and Sioux City Community School Board member
- Rob Barron, Des Moines School Board member
- Mary Campos, community leader
- Gabriel de la Cerda, Iowa State Central Committee member
- Manny Galvez, founder of El Trueque
- Araceli Goode, Iowa Democratic Party Latinx Caucus chair
- Joe Henry, community activist
- Tar Macias, founder of Hola America
- Vanessa Marcano-Kelly, entrepreneur
- Emilia Marroquin, community member
- Mitch Henry, independent political consultant
- Jazmin Newton-Butt, candidate for the Scott County Board of Supervisors
- Omar Padilla, community activist
- Patty Ritchie, Iowa Democratic Party Latinx Caucus vice chair
- Nick Salazar, LULAC state director and former Bernie Sanders campaign Iowa co-chair
- Lilián Sanchez, Iowa Latino Hall of Fame Inductee
- Scott Syroka, Johnston City Council
- Rita Vargas, Scott County Recorder
- Steve Villatoro, Former IDP Latinx Caucus chair
- Jose Zacarias, West Liberty City Council and school board member
by Claudia Thrane
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