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Hispanic growth in Palm Beach County signals need for new district maps

Hispanic population grew from 19% to 23% in 10 years
Posted at 3:09 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 18:22:23-05

GREENACRES, Fla. — New data from the latest Census shows that Hispanics make up the fastest-growing population in Palm Beach County.

With the boom comes the need for new maps that divide the county's districts.

The heart and soul of the Hispanic community lies a little west of the coast. This includes Greenacres — the city with the only Hispanic mayor in Palm Beach County.

MORE: Hispanic, Latino, Latinx? Identity terms evolving in Latino communities

There has been a boom in Hispanic growth and business and soon this area could become part of the Hispanic dominant district within Palm Beach County.

Edgar Perez, Palm Beach County restaurant owner
Edgar Perez speaks about the growth of the Hispanic population since he moved to Palm Beach County from Guatemala in the early 1990s.

In the kitchen at Sabor Latino restaurant, there are plenty of Latin flavors that represent parts of Palm Beach County.

Edgar Perez's business is heating up so much that he has opened three locations in the last 13 years.

"The Spanish population is growing so fast," Perez said.

And it's not cooling down any time soon.

The Hispanic population in Palm Beach County grew from 19 percent to 23 percent in the last 10 years.

"There's a Black and Browning of Palm Beach County," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard
Commissioner Mack Bernard discusses upcoming redistricting plans in Palm Beach County.

Bernard represents District 7, a Black-majority district.

MORE: Hispanics, Latinos face confusion in the 'race box'

The population shift means new district maps need to be drawn up in the county. That could mean Hispanics would make up the majority of District 3.

"At the end of the day, if you create the district, the residents will still have to go out and vote and create that representation," Bernard said.

"What your hope is, is that that community breeds a candidate and that they come forward and they run," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents District 6.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay says a Hispanic candidate could win District 3.

She said with Mayor Dave Kerner's term limit up in 2024, and a presidential election that year, there's a chance for a Hispanic candidate to win District 3.

More than 10,000 businesses in the county are Hispanic-owned.

Perez said since he arrived in Palm Beach County in 1994 from Guatemala, he has seen the Hispanic market increase, giving him the confidence to expand his business.

"I didn't make a mistake," Perez said.

A virtual town hall will be held Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. to discuss the county's redistricting.

The meeting will provide information on the 2020 Census, the redistricting process, upcoming public hearings and provide an opportunity for the public to provide feedback. Click here to register.

The final redistricting map for the county will be presented and voted on at a county commission meeting on Dec. 7. The county has to decide on a map and adopt it by the end of 2021.