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Hispanic Roundtable Candidates and Issues Forum

On Thursday, October 23rd, our event for the day was the 2014 Hispanic Roundtable Candidates and Issues Forum presided over by our friend Mr. Jose Feliciano at La Sagrada Familia Church on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. As the program notes stated:

"The Hispanic Roundtable is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to act as a catalyst to empower the Hispanic Community to become full partners in the economic, education, political, civic, and social life of Greater Cleveland."

The format was a good one. The candidates for United States Congress, County Executive, County Council, along with gubernatorial candidate Anita Rios with the Green Party, were given a few minutes to make a statement and then a panel consisting of members of the Young Latino Network including Mr. Anthony Alto, Ms. Maria Agosto, and Mr. Jason Estremera got to ask them a few questions. In the interest of time, the candidates running for Ohio State Senator, Ohio State Representative, and Ohio Supreme Court were given time to speak but were not asked questions by the panel. Candidates running for the other judicial offices were not given speaking time or questions but Mr. Feliciano introduced them.

Before we got to the candidates, several other people had things to say including Mr. Anthony Alto of the Board of Elections who said that it looked like Cleveland was on the upswing due to the upcoming GOP conventions and other developments. "But what about Latinos?" he asked. "We must move forward with the rest of Cleveland. We must make our voices heard on election day and get involved!"

Then Ms. Stephanie Morales of the Cleveland Board of Education spoke about the need for Issue 4 pertaining to Cleveland Municipal School District and Ms. Diana Del Rosario, Dean of Student Affairs at Cuyahoga Community College spoke in support of Issue 6 which would benefit the college.

Then it came time for the candidates to speak. To be sure, their were quite a lot of candidates speaking about many things but here is what some of them had to say about issues pertaining to immigration:

***Mr. Richard May, the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in District 9 was asked what he would do to improve the quality of life of those isolated in the inner city, particularly immigrants he didn't think that there was that much he could do as a elected official but suggested that the groups represented here like the Hispanic Roundtable reach out to them and let him know what he could do.

***County Councilman Jack Schron, the Republican candidate for County Executive said that he appreciated his family's history as immigrants-his grandparents immigrated to the United States from Hungary and opened a butcher shop and became successful through hard work and initiative. County Councilman Schron said that he definitely believed in inclusion and his personal actions speak for themselves; he was very proud that in his own business Whites, Hispanics and African Americans work side by side.

***State Rep. Armond Budish, the democratic candidate for County Executive, said that Cleveland should be a welcoming community to the country and to the world. He said that our diversity is our greatest asset and that the different communities of Cleveland enhance the entire community. He concluded by saying that we should help Global Cleveland do all that they can do.

***U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a Democrat running for reelection, said that she helped to write the immigration reform bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate but stalled in the U.S. House. She supports the Dream Act and for giving due process to those who being held at the U.S./Mexican border. When queried about whether or not she would hire a liaison to connect exclusively with the Hispanic community she said that the percentage of Hispanics in her district was not very large but she would hire a liaison for who could connect with all of the different communities of her district.

***Judge John P. O'Donnell, Democratic candidate for Ohio Supreme Court, said that one of the cases that he handled that he was most proud of was one where he vacated a marajuana conviction of an otherwise worthy person who was facing deportation, because he was an immigrant, if Judge O'Donnell hadn't have done what he did. When a law enforcement group asked him to talk about a case that he was particularly proud of he told them about this one; it might have cost him their endorsement but Judge O'Donnell doesn't care because if he had it to do over again he would have still come down in the immigrant's favor.

***County Councilman Dave Greenspan, a Republican running for reelection, proudly talked about his wife who immigrated to the United States with her family from South Korea. His mother-in-law did not speak English when she came here but she knew that hard work was the key to success so she inspired her daughter (i.e. the future Mrs. Greenspan) who is now works for the Eaton Corporation in a very responsible capacity.

***Ms. Anita Rios, the Green Party candidate for governor, told the Latinos who were present that "you are absolutely essential members of the community." She went on to say that immigrants should be welcomed to this country. She favors amnesty for the undocumented and believes that they should be able to get a driver's license as well.

***Ohio State Senator Michael Skindell, a Democrat running for reelection, said that his state senate district has a large population of Hispanics. State Senator Skindell pushed for election materials in Spanish and spoke out against law enforcement randomly stopping people for questioning that they suspected were illegal immigrants.

***U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, another Democrat running for reelection, said that she supports the dream act and comprehensive immigration reform. She pointed out that her office assisted Mr. Ricardo Ramos who faced deportation at the beginning of the year. She also said that we need to take another look at our trade agreements because she believes that they helped to create the problems that motivate people to leave their homelands and attempt to immigrate to the United States.

The spirit of the evening was best captured by Mr. Jose Feliciano in his opening remarks when he said, "Your vote is your voice...We have the balance of power in our hands!" Mr. Feliciano went on to say that everyone knows that he likes music so a little bit would be played from time to time...

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