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Latino candidates running for state, local offices explain their proposals for their community

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Gaby Lozada
/
NHPR
For two hours, the candidates addressed questions from the media that varied from tactics to bill proposals.

Candidates from different state districts shared their thoughts Wednesday on how they have included the diverse Latino community in their campaigns. The conversation revolved around Latino inclusion and engagement, especially for those who feel disconnected from politics.

Some of the candidates talked about how valuable it is to bring them to vote, even if it gets difficult. One of them was Allisandra Murray, who has immigrant parents from Nicaragua and is in their twenties. They are running for Hillsborough District 20 in next week’s primary.

Murray is worried about young Latinos with no interest in voting, so they are using Tik Tok to amplify their voice.

“The more Latinos disengage, the less the things we want to happen will happen,” they said.

Murray says they have a vision for a new bill they would like to push for: making New Hampshire a sanctuary state for trans people.

“If they are in states where they can’t get healthcare, they could [come] here,” they said.

Dr. Trinidad Tellez, who has Mexican and Cuban roots, is a Democrat running to represent Hillsborough District 40, which is another primary race. As a Latina who has experience bringing health equity to underserved communities, she says her main concern is access to health insurance.

She said her work will be focused on “making sure Medicaid expansion continues, dealing with some of the laws that have been causing harm.”

Tellez said the community needs more active and thriving members, which can be achieved through better healthcare. She thinks the system is too complex and hard to understand, even as a physician.

“We need to make more connections to make the system more accessible,” she said. Tellez is the state’s former director of health equity.

Other candidates also addressed this topic.

Democratic Rep. Maria Perez is running for reelection in Hillsborough District 43, representing Milford. She says she has two bills in mind if she gets elected: one related to expanding the right to an abortion and the other about the mental health of minority communities.

“Latinos have a stigma about mental health, and we need to break it to save more lives,” she said.

Perez said inclusion should also be a priority, but she said representatives should be careful not to treat community members as tokens when they invite them to testify.

Inclusion is Jason Bonilla’s objective. As a son of Salvadoran immigrants, he says he has been fighting for more from his seat at the Manchester School Board - Ward 5. He is running for the same position this year.

He says Latino kids look at him and see themselves, but more importantly, they see a Latino making changes. Bringing his personal experience of growing up in an English learner household “pushes other colleagues to really think critically about equity,” he said.

He says he plans to create pathways for parents of English language learners to advocate for their children.

Among the candidates was Carlos Gonzales, the first Latino elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2000 as a Republican. He currently serves on the Manchester School Board for the city’s Ward 12, and is also running to represent Hillsborough District 40.

He said he hoped both parties would be more honest and straightforward about what an elected official can do for the community.

“We are here to stay, but we need to participate,” said Gonzalez.

Corrected: September 7, 2022 at 7:23 PM EDT
An earlier version of this story misstated Rep. Perez's district.
Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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