The Herald: Why Aren’t There More Hispanic Pols In Broward?


The Miami Herald wants to know:  Why aren’t there more Hispanic politicians in Broward?

The paper probable should modify that question:  Why aren’t there more successful Hispanic politicians in Broward?

For years, having a Hispanic name was poison on a Broward ballot.   Voters have told me they moved from Miami-Dade to get away from the Hispanic dominance.

Also, many Hispanics are Republicans which works to our South, but is a disadvantage in the Democratic Republic of Broward.

There were exceptions former Sheriff Nick Navarro won office twice as a Republican in the 1980s.

This year, two Hispanics won countywide, but in non-partisan judicial races.

There is one difference between Miami-Dade and Broward.

Hispanics in Broward are largely spread out.  They are not confined to one particular area.  So they can’t form voting blocs to influence local races.

Weston does have pockets of Hispanics.  Many are not citizens and don’t vote.

Just maybe some Hispanics in Broward are more mature than some Hispanics in Miami-Dade and some Angelos here.  They vote for the candidate, rather than the ethic group.

Whatever the reason, the Miami Herald wants to know.

By the way, the survey is being done from Miami and not the Broward office.

Here is the paper’s blast e-mail:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Public Insight Network

Date: Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Subject: Why aren’t there more hispanic politicians in Broward?


You received this e-mail because you are part of the Public Insight Network.

The Miami Herald wants to know: Why aren’t there more Hispanic politicians in Broward?

Despite the high percentage of Hispanics living in Broward County, there are very few Hispanics who hold political office there.

Have you noticed?.

Share your thoughts here.

We’re always looking for new sources here at the Herald, so if you know of anyone else who might have insight on this topic, please, feel free to forward this e-mail to them.

Thanks so much for your time, and for being a source for the Herald. I hope to hear from you soon.


Deborah Acosta

Public Insight Analyst

Miami Herald Media Co.

(305) 376-3563

16 Responses to “The Herald: Why Aren’t There More Hispanic Pols In Broward?”

  1. Survey Says says:

    They don’t vote that’s why.

  2. Git R Done says:

    How many speak ENGLISH?

  3. Angelo Castillo says:

    Hey Survey,

    Your statement is correct, but if you rearrange the words then you may get closer to understanding something that too many in the US just plain miss. Try asking “Why don’t they vote.” That offers meaning. It’s not for lack of caring. It’s because they still don’t feel like they belong.

    Here’s a little Hispanic 101 for those with the patience to learn.

    The Hispanic experience in America is a study in isolation. We live in the world that surrounds us as best we can. Then we retreat to our homes, to our families, to our own TV stations, own foods bought in our own supermarkets, shared in the traditional fashion with our own families and friends. We find refuge there. This is what home means. This is where our identity lies. The tendency is to look at America as “them.”

    Personally, I’m long past that stage. While not born in the US, I was born in Havana, my personal experience here turned out to be very different than most. But I remain close enough to my native roots to understand and feel as comfortable in American as Hispanic cultural surroundings.

    This is a major issue for Hispanics — feeling like we belong in the US, feeling free to be who we are and yet feel welcomed. We want to be part of the US. We just don’t want to stop being Hispanics. We don’t want to melt into anybody’s damned pot. We want to be who we are and still feel like we belong. Easier said than done, but there it is.

    Let me try to explain. I’ll offer a backdrop against which the issue becomes easier to appreciate.

    21 countries in the world are Spanish speaking. Spanish is the third most commonly spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin and English, with Arabic a distant fourth. Were it not for India, where technically English is the official language, English would probably be somehwere below tenth on that list.

    Spanish is mainly spoken in Spain, Africa, and South, Central and Latin America. But in each place, the people have their own history and culture. Their own music and cuisine. Their own inflection and accent. I dould not call the differences dialects, there really aren’t any dialects in Spanish, but each of these nations have their own phrases and idomatic experssions in Spanish that are unique to them.

    Some Spanish speakers are caucasions or blacks, some are of native Indian ancestry, and my guess is most are of mixed ancestry. My guess is most are Catholics but I’ve met many Hispanic Protestants, Jews and Muslims. Spanish speaking people live in countries large and small, wealthy and abjectly impovershed. Our experiences are as different as rice and beans and tacos, skyscrapers and mudbrick homes, mountains and plains, llamas and horses.

    In all these cases, Spanish as a language unites us all but our lives in the nations we were from are very different. Even so, for some Spanish is a reminder of our rich history going back to Europe. For others, it is lasting evidence, something like a branding, that their true identity was taken from them centuries ago by Spanish colonialists. Raped away from them. Raped into becoming something they never were. And that feeling of being raped culturally still exists.

    That’s the part that Hispanics don’t like talking about because it gets us angry and you won’t like us that way.

    Are you starting to get the picture?

    So, now comes this new group and they too want us to leave all that baggage behind, stop speaking our Spanish, which was never ours to begin with, and become Americans?

    Bad enough we couldn’t be who God made us.

    Now we have to become something else yet again. Just to fit in.

    Can you begin to understand how put off that prospect can make a person? Growing up in the US, I didn’t have any command of English until about the sixth grade. I had teachers who I knew were not my intellectual equal telling me as a child that being a janitor was OK because some just weren’t meant to go to college. All that because she was too stupid to see that my only issue was a language barrier that she was too inept to help me overcome. So I did it on my own. Almost every Hispanic can relate to that story and has one of their own just as maddening.

    As different as all our experiences as Hispanics might be, our experiences here in the US are much more similar. And also not. True, we all struggle at the beginning to fit in. Language is a barrier that’s hard to overcome. But we also came here for different reasons.

    In the US, they call us from Cuba immigrants. Sorry but that’s not correct. Cubans, at least those from families like mine, that came here after 1959 sought political asylum. That’s hugely different from being an immigrant.

    Our families didn’t want to come here, we either came or they were going to kill us. We either came or we’d starve. We sought polical asylum. The initial plan wasn’t to remain here, the hope was our stay would be short lived. As such, many scratched out a living and did the bear minimum to assimilate. After all, we expected to go back. But that never came to pass. Some of us “got it” and realized that going back was never going to happen. The US became our lasting home and we became citizens. Others never gave up. And have not still.

    The early arrivals from that era were Cuba’s wealthy and educated who had to scratch out livings as best they could because very few spoke English. In contrast, Puerto Ricans came to the US looking for work. They didn’t all speak English but some did. Most were were poor but they were also Americans — they didn’t have to go through immigration. Mexicans and Latin Americans came to the US for the same reasons but didn’t have the advantage of citizenship.

    Today, we see Venezuelans and Colombians and other nations, both working class and people of means, coming to the US to further their business interests or get a fresh start for their families.

    Let’s also not forget that they break down into all manner of other diverse groups, politically.
    Language alone will not provide the connective tissue necessary to unite so diverse a population into a voting block. Also absent is a forum where it is customary for Spanish speakers, no matter how diverse the background, to gather. This is an essential ingredient for forming unification.

    First generation Hispanics in the US, irrespective of nation of origin, with few exceptions, are deeply grateful for all the US offers them and their families. They work hard, fight in our wars, attend our schools, have pride in their homes, are good neighbors and have shown little difficulty fitting in and inter-marrying with Americans.

    But for many of the first generation, they would prefer to to live AND doing well financially in their own nations. If only that was possible. Their children, however, the second or third generation in the US, while remaining proud of their heratige, would never consider leaving the US. For them, this is home.

    Blacks, both African American and Carribean, have their differences but by and large share common churches where they gather. Jews have their religion which, although practiced differently, forms the basis for years of commonalities that bind them togehter as groups. Not so with Hispanics. It’s easy for the American to look at Hispanics (some prefer the term Latino) and say — they are one group. Untrue.

    Is there such a thing as a Hispanic community in the US? Not exactly. We have not created the incommons here that bind a community together. The reasons exist and some desire to create the partnerships do also. It’s just never happened. Where there is lack of community, division tends to set in. And so sadly is is as common to see Hispanics of diversity together celebrating their in-commons as it is to see them apart because of their differences.

    It’s unclear whether we can put all those issues aside and come together as a group. Perhaps we can. Perhaps an event will trigger it. This much is certain, we love being Hispanic and we also want to be Americans. We have to find our way there.

    This also is true. Those Spaniards of centuries ago were devilishly clever. Divide and conquer is a very tough strategy to beat.

    Hope this helps.


  4. Answer the Question says:

    Hispanics may not vote and still they can be elected. You are proof. As I recall from an article here, your victory last week was due to non-Hispanics in Century Village.

    If there is a good candidate, it doesn’t matter what their ethnicity is at least in some cases.

  5. Floridan says:

    Hispanics may not vote in large numbers (although I don’t know this for a fact), but then neither does the population as a whole.

    In the November 2010 election, in which there were many hotly contested contests) we had a 40 percent voter turnout in Broward; in the August primaries only 15 percent of registered voters made it to the polls. The March municipal elections were even worse, with a voter turnout of less than 10 percent.

  6. Floridan says:

    “contested contests”? Ugh

  7. Kevin says:

    Buddy, I have a feeling that the Census data coming out in April is going to show that Weston is majority Hispanic, or somewhere close to it. 40% of the commissioners are Hispanic (2 out of 5 — Angel Gomez and Merdeces Hendricksen). And don’t forget the ex-wife, who was the first Hispanic elected in Weston in 2001, and darned near won a state legislative seat in 2004 that was only 20% Hispanic.

  8. Rastas says:

    Hispanics should go down on their knees and thank God for the greatest single positive thing in their lives: the fact that He in His infinite wisdom located the United States next to their (largely) underdeveloped crapholes and kleptocracies. In countries where “Hispanidad” has been allowed free rein, we see the less-than-inspiring results…lots of toe-tapping music and good beer, and fragile, misery-ridden societies that have largely failed to improve the lot of their citizens.
    IMHO, the best thing Hispanic-Americans can do for themselves is jettison this legacy of failure and feeling of being owed something by life and the rest of us (they’re welcome to keep their music and beer) and strive to become full-fledged, grateful U.S. citizens.

  9. Kevin says:

    Another HUGE difference that is subtle but incredibly important in partisan races between MD and Broward is in partisan registration patterns: a large plurality (about 40%) of Hispanics in Broward are registered with no party affiliation, which of course dilutes their block voting power in the all-important Democratic primaries…….I think this is one of the things that hurt Angelo when he ran for CC in August.

    FROM BUDDY: That’s extremely interesting. Do you believe it is because Hispanics moving to Broward are younger?

  10. Kevin says:

    Buddy, I am actually trying to find a social scientific way to answer that question. Observationally, however, I would say that “yes” part of the reason that so many Broward Hispanics are registered as independents in their relative youth vis-a-vis their counterparts in MD. Also, the diversity of national origins that Angelo talks about is a big factor — there is no “institutionalized” partisan community based on national identity, like there has been with Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade since 1980.

    I’m trying to raise some grant money to undertake exactly this kind of study that your blog post is about to use the new Census data and voter info/surveys.


  11. Kevin says:


    your post was outstanding. You should have been a sociologist or political scientist!!

  12. Broward Lawyer says:

    Buddy wrote, “This year, two Hispanics won countywide, but in non-partisan judicial races.”

    Yes Buddy, What you don’t mention is that 2 highly qualified Hispanic judges were targeted because of their names.

    Fortunately, Judge Carlos Rodriguez defeated Frieda Goldstein and Judge Carlos Rebollo defeated Robert “Bob” Nichols.

    Let’s hope this is the end of ethnic targetting.

    FROM BUDDY: Amen.

  13. Doctor Bill says:

    Buddy: there is also one angle to this that I believe cuts across racial line (perhaps until only this last race).
    I was told a few years ago by a relative and through latter conversations with others that when non-hispanics go into the voting booth in Broward they will usually vote AGAINST the Hispanic name.
    The fear, as told by my relative is that Broward Blvd. would become Jose Mati Blvd. and street signs would be changed to Spanish.
    Is it possible that there has been an un-spoken and accepted practice to vote against Hispanics by white and black, dems and republicans in Broward out of fear of an Hispanic invasion?

    FROM BUDDY: I agree. As I wrote in my post, many people I have talked to moved from Miami-Dade to get away from the Hispanic, really Cuban-American, dominance.

  14. Angelo Castillo says:


    Glad you liked the post. It’s what I sense from life experience. You’re the scientist in this discussion.

    After you get your grant, perhaps you’ll invite sociologists to study the issue with you. They may find that passive aggression explains much of this behavior. The thought that if I vote, then I’m less of a Hispanic, a sell out assisting something that does not want me around.

    In fact the exact opposite is true. We can never stop being Hispanic. Not voting only sells ourselves out because we’re not going back. And if we really want to be welcomed, then we have buy in at some level and stop acting like outcasts.


    PS — Kevin Hill and I met in 2000 when Barbara Herrera Hill was running for the Weston City Commission. I remember him telling me that cable TV had already become the smart media choice for local Broward campaigns. I repeated comment to several well known campaign operatives. They all laughed it off. Ask them now, they’ll pretend it was their idea! But Kevin was ahead of that curve all along and I’ve never forgotten it.

  15. Kevin says:

    Angelo, when it costs 6 bucks per add to run several hundred commercials on cable, one would have to be an idiot not to do it! Broward campaign operatives, many of then at least, are still dinosaurs compared to their counterparts in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

    This leads to a question I have asked a lot of campaign consultant. They can’t answer it.
    Numerous home owners in South Florida don’t get cable, choosing instead DirectTV or the Dish Network. The penetration of satellite is large. Cable subscriptions have been dropping nationwide.
    How do you reach these voters?

  16. Kevin says:

    Buddy, those voters that have satellite (like I do), well, you just have to mail them or knock their doors if they are habitual voters.

    I am one of those people who is very much against robocalls. They tend to piss people off.

    And don’t get me started on the growing problems we survey research people are having with people not having landlines anymore.


    That is a good avenue of research — the problems of research with the growing use of cell phones. Are you reading James “Jim” Kane,’s pollster and a UF adjunct prof.?

    My sons — one who works for the Florida Senate and another in UF law school — have no landlines. They’ve have never had one, except when living with me. Both are so-called likely voters who vote in every election. They never get polled. I do think they would get annoyed if they got polled on their cells. That’s the rub, as Hamlet said.

    So how do you do legit surveys in the future when many voters use cells?