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Palm Beach County sees increase in Latinos seeking office

'This is a very exciting year for Hispanics in Palm Beach County,' Jorge Garrido says
Posted at 5:13 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 21:47:52-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The demographics of Palm Beach County are changing, and the Latino community has felt underrepresented.

However, the number of Latino candidates running for public office in next month's election has local leaders talking.

There's increased attention on having more Latinos run for public office in local communities. They are a group historically underrepresented.

"This is a very exciting year for Hispanics in Palm Beach County," said Jorge Garrido, chairman of the Hispanic Vote of Palm Beach County.

There is an increase in Hispanic candidates running for public office in our area.

Garrido's group is a nonpartisan political action committee that focuses on the political and economic empowerment of the Hispanic community.

"You may have other issues that are specific to the Hispanic community, whether it has to do with education, health care," Garrido said. "We have a large population in our community that is undocumented. How do we handle those issues in a humanitarian way, making sure that we follow the law that is taking care of our community and those needs?"

Latinos make up 25 percent of the population in Palm Beach County, but the percentages are far smaller than that for elected positions.

"Twenty-five percent is a pretty substantial number here in Palm Beach County, " Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "We need folks that look like us, that speak like us, that understand our culture and our struggles."

Fuentes and Garrido said running for office is a big endeavor, and a variety of issues may keep some from considering an elected office.

But for those who are willing to take the leap of faith, they want change.

Part of the focus is in communities where the majority of the population is Hispanic.

"Being able to say we have the majority in the city, but we have no representation in city council, it is kind of a disservice to our community," Garrido said. "Having at least one in there, I think it will be a big win for the Hispanic community."

Early voting for the municipal elections begins Saturday.

Voters can cast their ballot at any of the four early voting locations.

WPTV will have election results on March 8.