Hispanic candidates gather to discuss politics for Spanish speakers in New Hampshire

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Carlos Gonzalez (left) and Maria Perez on Sept. 7, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Five of New Hampshire’s Hispanic candidates gathered at City Hall Plaza on Wednesday morning to discuss their experiences and the challenges both they and New Hampshire’s Hispanic community are facing when it comes to participating in the political process.

Hosted by Vote Now NH Hispanics, the panel included State Representative Maria Perez (D-Milford), and Manchester Board of School Committee Member Jason Bonilla who were joined by three candidates for state representative from Manchester: Republican Carlos Gonzalez, Democrat Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray and Democrat Dr. Trinidad Tellez.

The five members of the panel noted that despite their common bond as Spanish speakers, they also noted their differences and the fact that the Hispanic community is not a monolithic block.

On that point, members of the panel urged elected officials and leaders within the Democratic and Republican parties to not take Hispanic votes for granted. Perez expressed frustration with what she perceived as a lack of interest in Hispanic issues from a Democratic U.S. Senator she did not name on Wednesday and Gonzalez said he became a Republican primarily because he felt rejected by Democrats when he first became involved in the political process over 20 years ago.

In addition to calls for outreach, they also urged members of the Hispanic community in New Hampshire to make their voices heard however they can.

“(Political leaders) need to address us, accept us and make us a part of their system and we need to respond. Because if we do, we will open the door to future generations,” said Gonzalez.

For Gonzalez, who is also a member of the Manchester Board of School Committee and has been running for public offices since 2000, there has been significant improvement in recent years when it comes to inclusion for the Hispanic community in ways such as multilingual ballots and more Spanish speakers working for elected officials.

However, Gonzalez and other members of the panel still said that work needs to be done to increase inclusivity for the Hispanic community within New Hampshire’s political process.

Rodriguez-Murray, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community and hopes to make New Hampshire a sanctuary for transgender people from around the country, said that any minority needs to understand that it has a place in New Hampshire’s political dialogue and it’s up to members of that minority to spread their message.

“I think assuming that Latinos don’t have a stake here and there aren’t enough of us here for our issues to matter is a big mistake,” said Rodriguez-Murray. “We have to fight for our place, because we know no one is going to do it for us. We have to make ourselves heard and make our presence known.”

Event moderator Gustavo Moral believed that the panel showed the growth of Hispanic political activism in New Hampshire and echoed

“I think the community is beginning to show more face and involvement and is beginning to send a message that ‘hey, we’re to stay, we’re here to be a part of the community, and we’re here to work together as a state’,” he said. “I think the (New Hampshire) Latino community is vibrant and I think everyone is excited to contribute and move forward.”

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From left, Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray, Dr. Trinidad Tellez, Jason Bonilla, Carlos Gonzalez, Maria Perez. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.