The Associated Press in 2016 released a report compiled by the Austin American Statesman stating that Hispanics and Latinos are largely underrepresented politically across Texas.The American Statesman reported more than 1.3 million Hispanics in Texas live in cities or counties with no Hispanic representation on their city council or commissioners court. Disparities remain high even when accounting for non-citizens.This is very much the case for Jefferson County as well where Hispanics and Latinos make up 20 percent of the population yet do not have representation on the Jefferson County Commissioners Court. Equally as concerning is the city of Port Arthur, where Hispanics and Latinos make up 33 percent of the population yet have not seen a consistent Hispanic presence elected to the City Council for a number of years.Across Mid County communities, Groves has the highest population of Hispanics and Latinos at 4 percent. Yet Hispanics and Latinos have zero representation there, as well.Representation of all ethnic groups across local government is important to ensure all citizens have a voice. Representation in local government needs to change as communities grow and as their demographics change. City-data.com states that the current ethnic makeup of Port Arthur shows African Americans represents 38 percent of the population, Hispanics are at 33 percent and White/Caucasians are at 21 percent.That is vastly different from 2000, when African Americans represented 44 percent of the population, White/Caucasians were at 32 percent and Hispanics at 17 percent.Back in the 1980s, when white/Caucasian ethnicity was much higher that other ethnic groups in Port Arthur, a change was made at the local government level to increase the number of city council seats to nine. This added two citywide seats and two overlapping district seats. The mindset was to allow ethnic groups with lower population numbers an opportunity to acquire equal representation on local government councils.Fast forward to today, where out of the nine seats on The Port Arthur City Council, eight are held by people of African American ethnicity. There are zero Hispanic/Latinos as well as zero white/Caucasians. So why is it that? Why do Hispanics and Latinos stay away from consistently being a part of local government?The most obvious reason is our lack of voter turnout, which continues year in and year out. When you have a 4 percent voter turnout on a regular basis, candidates are basically relying on the registered voters to whom they reach out and entice to the polls. They are not reaching out beyond that.In simple terms, they only want the voters who will get them elected — voters they know will show up to the polls.Voter turnout will only get worse if eligible individuals don’t vote consistently. They will become structurally excluded from the political process. That means candidates will not campaign for an individual’s vote if that person is not a regular voter.The Austin American Statesman report also suggests a few reasons for this lack of presence and representation. Texas laws have made registering to vote more difficult, redistricting efforts were designed to dilute Hispanic influence and there is a perceived abandonment of Hispanic voters by statewide political parties.To increase Latino representation among local governments, reports suggest, they need to feel more engaged. They need to have a stake in it. They want to have an equal place in society.But many feel they do not, are overlooked and do not have a voice. They need to see that change will be beneficial and that their voice is just as important as every other legal citizen.Latinos are a highly supportive group with strong family ties. Those ties are also very strong for leaders that will push for issues they feel are important to their culture and families.Find a candidate or candidates who can push for the issues important to the Hispanic and Latino population and change in the lack of political representation here would come now, not later.
Vince McKee NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio – While all eyes were on Amanda Nunes Saturday night as she hoisted up her newly won UFC Womens Bantamweight title, I couldn’t help but think the next big thing in the division fought on the undercard. Julianna Pena is not to be forgotten about or taken lightly.Pena has been on a roll since winning the Ultimate Fighter Season 18 Women’s Bantamweight season title. Peña faced Jessica Rakoczy in the finals on November 30, 2013 at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale. She won the bout via TKO in the final seconds of the first roundShe has remained hot since leaving the house, winning her first three fights since. She has toppled the likes of Jessica Eye, Milana Dudieva and most recently Cat Zingano Saturday night. All of her wins were in dominant fashion, further expanding her explosive arsenal each time out. She is 8-2 in her career, but an impressive 4-0 in the UFC overall. She is no stranger to the camera and public spotlight, both for good and bad reasons. Peña was featured in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary Fight Life, the film is directed by James Z. Feng and released in 2013. She is also no stranger to the wrong side of the spotlight as well as on Sunday, December 20, 2015 Peña was arrested in Spokane, Washington. Pena was charged with 2 counts of Assault. It is hard to ignore her heart and hustle as she has already overcome several obstacles in her MMA career. Peña was expected to face Jessica Andrade at UFC 171 on March 15, 2014 but was forced to pull out because of injury. She suffered the injury while grappling in training, tearing her ACL, MCL, LCL and meniscus.She was away from the sport over a year when Peña returned to face Milana Dudieva on April 4, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 63. She won the fight via TKO in the first round. The win also earned Peña her first Performance of the Night bonus award. She not only has the talent to go far, but also the look to keeps the men’s attention and pose for magazine covers, posters and whatever else the UFC merchandise machine needs of her. If Holm, Tate and Rousey arent’t careful, Pena will sneak ahead of all of them and challenge Nunes for the next title shot. Pena is for real and a name you will want to remember her name for a very long while!Agree or disagree, let me know. You can follow Vince McKee on twitter at VinceTheAuthorDon’t forget to visit our great sponsors at https://www.neosportsinsiders.com/sponsors/ Related TopicsAmanda NunesDana WhiteJulianna PenaMiesha TateRonda RouseyUFC 200