FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thousands of Black & Latino Voters to be Registered on LI in Advance of Local Elections
Immigrants, Civil Rights Advocates, and Allies Launch Major Campaign to Build Power and Win Immigration and Police Reforms in Upcoming Countywide Elections
PATCHOGUE, NY — On the steps of a church where community leaders once denounced the hate-motivated killing of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero, Latino and African-American advocates today announced a major campaign to register and mobilize voters of color in advance of November's countywide elections. Over chants of "Vote for Respect!," two dozen representatives of youth and civil rights advocacy organizations said they had already begun months of hard work to build electoral participation and leadership from Hempstead and Westbury to Bayshore and Brentwood. [Event photos here, available for publication.]
Over one dozen organizations are participating in the coordinated campaign, which seeks to bolster to turnout in a local election year, when participation often dips. Organizers said African-American, Latino, and immigrant communities had a great deal at stake this year, including continuing to win pro-immigrant reforms in Suffolk County, where County Executive Steve Bellone is up for reelection, and on police reform and educational justice in Nassau County, where a hotly contested race for District Attorney is forming.
This year’s campaign counts in part on the participation of youth, including members of Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), SEPA Mujer and Strong Youth. Along with Long Island Civic Engagement Table, these organizations plan to collect over 2,500 voter registrations through the summer. The event also included the participation and support of organizations such as the New York Immigration Coalition, Long Island Wins, La Fuente, Long Island Progressive Coalition, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Long Beach Latino Civic Association, and Centro Corazon de Maria Hampton Bays.
Marcy Suarez, Youth Organizer for Make the Road New York, said, “Our vote has the power to change our schools, our laws, and the way our government responds to the needs of low income, working class communities of color across Long Island that we organize. Our vote is the power we hold as a community. Many people fought hard and died for us to have the right to vote and we will be working hard from now until November to get people, especially young people, from our communities out to the polls”
Sonya Black, Suffolk Organizer for New York Communities from Change, said, “It's important for our communities to get out and vote. That's why NYCC is working across Nassau and Suffolk counties to register hundreds of voters and to knock on doors and speak to 11,000 voters of color this year about the issues at stake this election – from educational justice and police reform to fair housing and clean, healthy parks and neighborhoods. Working families are struggling on Long Island, but this voter registration campaign is the first step in winning sensible, progressive policy to get Long Island working for all.”
Patrick Young, Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center, said, "We work with hundreds of immigrants ever year, to assist with naturalization and to help them become citizens. The number one reason our clients want to become citizens is so they can register to vote. Local elections are vitally important for Latino communities, and we are glad to be a part of this effort."
Alejandra Sorto, Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said, “Long Island’s Latino and African American community is growing, and as we grow we are building voter power, working to make sure that communities of color have a voice that elected officials cannot ignore. More than any other election, local policy affects our daily lives: whether county government speaks our language, or our children are safe from police brutality. We are registering over 3,000 voters this year and will work with them through the fall to make sure all our people vote for respect in November.”
"SEPA Mujer believes that in order to make the voices of the Latina immigrant women that we represent and serve be heard, we must act diligently to make sure our community votes and our issues be heard! Change will happen if we pressure candidates to represent us justly", said Dulce Rojas, Community Organizer for SEPA Mujer.
“As we get closer to the 2015 county elections and with the 2016 Presidential elections around the corner, the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group of more than 150 organizations serving and advocating for immigrants in New York State, is committed to ensuring that immigration is a frontline issue in every electoral conversation. We look forward to working with our Long Island partners to make sure that immigrant Long Islanders have a strong voice when it comes to electing who represents them,” said Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
Sister Rosalie Carven, of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, said, “We need to tell People who are not registered to vote that "they have to be in it to win it" - participation in civil decision making that is. And our political leaders need to understand that there is no ‘silent majority’ living in our neighborhoods any more.”
"There is so much on the line in local elections,” said Dan Fingas, Organizing Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “Our town and county elected officials decide on important issues like access to affordable housing, public transportation, and just policing. That's why we need every eligible voter registered and every registered voter to vote this November."