Latinos may seek City Council seats
If one or more of the three recall petitions
have enough signatures of registered voters to qualify for an election,
it's a good bet that one or more of the challengers on the ballot
will be Latino.
In the 18 years since incorporation, only one Latino has served
on the City Council -- Ruben Abrica, in the 1980s. He is now on
the Ravenswood City School District board.
Nelson Santiago ran unsuccessfully for the council in 1993. And
when then City Councilwoman Rose Jacobs Gibson was appointed to
the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in late 1998, Belinda
Rosales and Pat Foster applied for the vacancy, with Foster edging
But the growing number of Latinos in the city hasn't translated
into political leadership -- yet.
While the city government has scrambled in the 1990s to hire bilingual
city staff and police, there hasn't been Latino representation on
the City Council.
There was attempt to change that last November when three Latinos
---- Victor Perez, Everardo Luna and Jose Beltran -- ran as a slate.
But they finished a disappointing seventh, ninth and eleventh in
the crowded field of 15 candidates.
If there is a recall election, Perez thinks one or more them may
be on the ballot. "That's something we're sifting through now,"
Perez is supporting the recall attempt because he doesn't think
the present City Council is adequately representing Latinos.
And there are a lot of Latinos now in East Palo Alto.
Back in the 1990 Census, it was clear that Latinos were on the
way to becoming the ethnic plurality, if not majority, in the city.
The surprise, in the 2000 Census, isn't that the Latinos have become
the majority ethnic group, but by what margin.
In 1990, there were just over 10,000 African Americans in the city,
compared to about 8,500 Latinos (or, in Census-speak, "persons of
But in 2000, blacks declined to 6,796 (a decline of 32.5 percent).
Latinos, meanwhile, more than doubled their numbers, to 17,346
(an increase of 103.4 percent).
The city's population swelled from 20,956 in 1990 to 29,506. And
Latinos are now 58.8 percent of the city's population.
-- Don Kazak