“Respeta Mi Gente” Coalition Leaders Speak on Priorities for Puerto Rican Community in November Midterm Elections

ORLANDO, FL — Today, Respeta Mi Gente, a coalition of advocacy, civil rights, faith and civic engagement organizations, launched its voter engagement, issue advocacy, and education campaign focused on building political power among the growing share of Puerto Rican voters in Florida and ensuring that the community’s priorities are front and center going into the 2018 midterm elections. Leaders representing these groups addressed the media to highlight priorities and action items the coalition will take to ensure elected officials and those running for office will prioritize the Puerto Rican community come November’s election.

You may watch a recorded version of our event here.

“Puerto Ricans in Florida must continue to build political power during and leading up to the 2018 midterm elections so that elected officials and those running for office are forced to pay attention and address the issues most affecting the community. The Respeta Mi Gente campaign will ensure these concerns are front-and-center and make sure concrete plans and actions are offered so that we see solutions for the future,” said Betsy Franceschini, Senior State Director Florida Southeast of Hispanic Federation.

“The work of ‘Respeta Mi Gente’ is a continuation of what we were doing under ‘Que Vote Mi Gente’ in 2016. The transition to ‘Respeta Mi Gente’ is focused on the failure of the U.S. Government to address the need of families who were displaced last year due to Hurricane Maria, the gross negligence of the Federal and State Government to provide relief in a timely manner and to rebuild the devastation caused by the hurricanes. That being said, the Puerto Rican vote in Florida is a vote for the community as a whole here on the mainland as well as those on the island who are voiceless and disenfranchised. The elections in November will be an opportunity to spotlight the growing power the Puerto Rican community in Florida,” said Marcos Vilar, President of Alianza For Progress.

“Through our work, we have registered to vote over 24,000 people since April 2018 and 100,000 since 2012 in Central Florida alone. We are especially proud that we are integrating the Puerto Rican population in rising numbers - we have seen that 51% of those who have registered to vote with us are self-identified as being of Puerto Rican descent. We believe that our communities will greatly benefit from being continuously involved in our government and election processes and we’ll be here to support their civic engagement,” said Nancy Batista, Florida State Director of Mi Familia Vota.

“This is the most important elections of our lives. We can be the change that we’ve been waiting for. We must continue to use ‘Respeta Mi Gente’ to educate our community. The power of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic community is in their vote. For Puerto Ricans who are coming from the island, one of the most important educational tools we must provide is for them to understand the voting process in the mainland and have them understand the importance of exercising that avenue of representation,” said Carmen Torres, Steering Committee Member, Vamos4PR.  

In the coming weeks, Respeta Mi Gente will continue their education efforts through a series of community events and door knocking campaigns to highlight not only the priorities of the community but critical deadlines around voter registration, vote by mail and other election day deadlines.

The deadline to register to vote in Florida in the upcoming midterm election is October 9, 2018.

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Respeta Mi Gente is a campaign to build political power among the growing share of Puerto Rican voters in Florida and leverage it, together with the vote of the greater Latino population, to address the community’s priorities on the Island and on the mainland in the 2018 midterm elections.

Kara Watkins