Some progress has been made in increasing Latino representation in city government, but more work needs to be done, according to a report released during a June 15 press conference at the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) in Jamaica Plain.
The report, titled “The Silent Crisis II,” was commissioned by the Greater Boston Latino Network, a group of Latino community organizations in Boston and Chelsea, including HSTF. “The Silent Crisis I” report was released in 2014.
The report found that from 2014 to 2017 the Latino population in Boston increased from 17 percent to 18.8 percent, while it increased from 62.1 percent to 64.2 percent in Chelsea. During that time, Latino representation in executive positions in Boston government increased from 7.5 percent to 10.5 percent, while in Chelsea it went from 16 percent to 24 percent.
The news was mixed for Latino representation in boards and commissions from 2014 to 2017, as it fell in Boston from 7.1 percent to 5.1 percent, but rose in Chelsea from 9.6 percent to 12.5 percent.
James Jennings, an author of the report and a professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, said that there are three main findings from the report: there has been some progress made in increasing Latino representation in city government, but “not as much as we would like”; that the increase in representation has not been evenly spread across government; and that there is a gap between the size of the Latino population and its representation in city government.
The professor also noted that the Latino population is young and that it is “very critical” to have role models in leadership positions for the youths.
Jennings said the report offers several recommendations to improving representation, including engaging all departments in government, having Latino officials and local organizations discuss the challenges to increasing representation, and mobilizing residents to know their government and how to get involved with it.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh spoke about the city’s population growth and how Latinos are an important part of that, noting that 28 percent of children under five years old in the city are Latinos. He said that the power structure of the city has to change with the demographics or the city “won’t be ready for the future.”
“We need Latino leadership across the board,” he said.
Walsh talked about Boston creating the Office of Diversity, which is now headed by Danielson Tavares, and Boston being the first city that has put its diversity numbers on a dashboard online. The mayor said there needs to be accountability, but there shouldn’t be finger pointing.
“Let’s not turn on each other. Let’s work together,” said Walsh.
For more information about the report, visit greaterbostonlatinos.org.