Fort Worth Hispanic Community Pushing for More Representation Ahead of Local Elections

Saturday, May 6, is Election Day, with hotly-contested local races across North Texas. Fort Worth has the largest number of candidates running for city council and mayor in the past four elections.

The District 2 race is especially competitive. That's where the city's only Hispanic councilman is leaving his long-held seat. That's one seat out of eight council members and the mayor now up for grabs at a time when the city population overall is 35-percent Hispanic and growing.

Folks with whom NBC 5 talked Friday say it's time their local government reflects the changing community.

On North Main Street there are more Spanish storefront signs than English. And there aren't a whole lot of people celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

"Cinco de Mayo, to Mexicans, it doesn't mean anything. It's a man-made holiday to us," said Victor Luna.

It's one of those things, if you're not part of the community, you just might not know. To Maria Roman, those cultural misconceptions hold a deeper meaning.

"Coming from the neighborhoods that we're coming from, the area, the families that we have," Roman said. "If you don't have that, if you've never been a part of that, then it's really hard to understand our needs."

It's why folks like Roman want to see more Latino representation in their city government. There are more than 20 candidates running for mayor and all eight council seats, but only four are Hispanic – three of them running for the District 2 seat alone.

"I think it's really important," said Jesse Lancarte.

His family has run some of Fort Worth's best-known Mexican restaurants since 1935, including Joe T. Garcia's and Esperanza's. Even as he's watched the Hispanic community grow, he thinks political involvement has dropped, and it's not just the candidates running.

"I think it's extremely important to vote, if you want to complain," Lancarte said.

Helping a community that speaks two languages find one voice.

Of course ethnicity is not the only thing the Hispanic community cares about when they go to vote. Several people said they want more representation on both sides of the political line.

Last year, Fort Worth voters approved adding two new council seats, many hoping that will better represent the Hispanic community, but that change doesn't take effect until 2023.

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