New York City
Latino voters need to 'understand their voice' in New York City, says City Council candidate
Marjorie Velázquez hopes to become the first Latina to represent the 13th council district in the Bronx.

 Encouraging Latino residents of New York City to register to vote is key to unlocking their power in the city, according to Bronx City Council candidate Marjorie Velázquez.

Velázquez - a Puerto Rican-American born in the Bronx - hopes to become the first Latina to represent New York City's 13th council district after winning the June 22 Democratic primary.

A graduate of New York University, Velázquez formerly held a number of positions in corporate finance, budgeting and accounting.

Following a serious accident and subsequent car crash that left her temporarily disabled in 2012, Velázquez jointed Bronx Community Board 10 and currently serves on the executive board as Municipal Services Committee chair. 

Puerto Rico comes out. When they vote, they vote in droves. Puerto Rico is a highly voting area. We need to transfer than momentum, and that energy, here to New York City.

She now races off against Republican Aleksander Mici in the November general election.

The district covers a number of areas of the Eastern Bronx, including Throggs Neck, Morris Park, Locust Point and Pelham Gardens.

In an exclusive interview with LPO, Velázquez called on more to be done to encourage Latinos across the city to vote and participate in local politics.

"We really need to hone in and make sure that we believe in one another, and that we go out and register to vote and come out in big numbers," she said. "I think especially when it comes to New York City, we have the opportunity to also get involved locally through joining our community boards."

Did New York's Ranked-Choice Voting help or harm Latino voters?

Voter turnout across New York City, however, remains low.

In the recent primary, for example, initial Board of Election statistics show that only 23% of registered Democrats and Republicans voted.

In the 2017 election that saw Bill de Blasio become mayor, only 1,097,846 of 4,596,813 active registered voters cast a ballot - a turnout rate of only about 24%.

New York Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams. 

According to Velázquez, a failure to adequately encourage members of the community to vote was a significant shortcoming of previous elections.

"I want folks to come out in high numbers, especially when we're looking at a New York City race that was determined by ranked choice voting," she said. "The margin Eric Adams had over Katherine Garcia was 7,000 votes. We need to make sure we are going out there and advocating to get out and vote." 

We need to make sure we are going out there and advocating to get out and vote

"I want people to understand their voice, especially the young kids," Velázquez added. "We saw the momentum that Andrew Yang had. How can we build that up in our communities, especially in the Latino community?"

New York's low turnout, Velázquez added, stands in stark contrast to that of Puerto Rico. Statistics show that the average voter turnout in local Puerto Rican elections stands at nearly 70%.

"Puerto Rico comes out. When they vote, they vote in droves. Puerto Rico is a highly voting area," she said. "We need to transfer than momentum, and that energy, here to New York City."

Of New York City's five boroughs, the Bronx is the only one with a majority Latino population. According to 2019 census data, 56.4% of the borough identifies as Latino or Hispanic.

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