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'Coming to our Census': finding a voice in Utah politics

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SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in Utah's history, the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office is producing ballots for the upcoming election in English and Spanish.

According to Pew research, the Latino population boom helped Utah get a fourth congressional seat. But they have yet to find a strong voice in Utah politics.

Rudy Miera, 25, is making sure his voice gets heard. He is President of the Utah Federation of College Democrats and is on the Board of PACE Latino. He said he would particularly like to see younger people getting involved in politics.

"Your voice will matter if you make it matter," he said.

Historically, Latinos have not turned out as voters.

"In 2010, the Latino vote in Utah was about 8–9 percent comapred to a general population in Census data of 14 percent," Tim Chambless said.

Key issues that could drive Latinos to the polls this fall are the economy and immigration.

Miera's family is deeply rooted in Utah history. He is a fifth generation Utahn, and his great-grandfather, Bernardo de Miera, helped map Utah. But still he says his family's immigration status is routinely questioned.

"All my life, I've been asked, ‘So, when did your family come here?'" he said. "The majority of the Hispanic community is affected by it."

Miera believes immigration reform is dependant upon a stronger voice from the Latino community. He would also like to see more Latinos run for office.

"The more Latinos see other Hispanics run for office, the more they are going to get involved," he said.

Your voice will matter if you make it matter.

–Rudy Miera

Statewide, about a dozen people who identify as Latino have filed to run for elective office, but only a few ran in high profile races.

Ross Romero ran for Salt Lake County mayor but didn't make it out of Democratic convention, and Attorney General candidate Sean Reyes lost the Republican primary.

"I've never run based on my ethnicity," Reyes said. "I've run on my credentials, on being the most qualified candidate. But I'm proud of my communities and I do think it's a healthy thing to have diversity in Utah, whether it is in politics or business or just the general community."

Miera is also optimistic about what the booming Latino population could bring to Utah.

"I feel like Utah has a bright future," he said. "So much potential."


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John Daley


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