Cleveland mayoral candidates participate in forum focused on Latinos

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Candidates for the mayor’s office visited the Hispanic-American committee on Thursday for a “conversation with the candidates” to discuss Latino topics.

Ramonita Vargas with the committee says it’s time for more politicians to interact with the Hispanic community: “I think it’s time for people to listen, what we have to say.

Today’s lineup included 7 mayoral candidates: Kevin Kelley, Zach Reed, Basheer Jones, Justin Bibb, Sandra Williams, Dennis Kucinich and Ross DiBello. Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno, two Senate candidates, also participated.

Vargas says the committee has never hosted so many political candidates for an event and hopes they can continue to discuss the issues that affect Hispanics the most.

“I think there are not enough opportunities in our community,” she said.

Bibb said communities of color should work together to solve similar challenges: “A new sharing of political power between black Clevelanders and our Latino Clevelanders.”

Gibbons, on the contrary, said he wasn’t looking to change much of the nation’s current social dynamics. “The luckiest Hispanic, the luckiest black, Irish, German, lives right here in the United States,” he explained.

The candidates also explained how they would seek to support the Hispanic community.

Jones expressed concern over institutional racism and redlining, and how tackling these inequalities will help the city develop fairly.

“There are people who profit from the oppression of certain people,” he said.

Moreno took a different approach and said lawmakers should step back altogether and allow private companies to take the lead.

“The government is not going to solve your problems, I am sorry it is not,” he said.

As the candidates continue to share their plans for the city, Gus Hoyas, also with the Hispanic-American Committee, hopes their community can continue to be part of it.

“We know they will represent all of the Clevelanders,” he said, “but we also need to make sure they meet our agenda.”

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