Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Puerto Rican representation missing from Orange County redistricting board

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I’m a proud Puerto Rican.

On a lot of weekends and holidays, I’ll travel to see family and enjoy the food, music, and environment from my culture and it’s a inspirational reminder of what it’s all about. I’ll talk to family from Humboldt Park in Chicago, where they’ll be celebrating in a similar fashion. We debate sports and politics, and enjoy each others company. It’s a great thing to be a part of and I’m blessed.

I go to a lot of political events and unfortunately, I might be the only Puerto Rican there and it’s stories like Mildred Fernandez and the one I’m about to write about that frustrate the heck out of me.

It was reported by El Sentinel and WFTV Channel 9 that there will be no Puerto Ricans on the Orange County redistricting board.

300,000 Hispanics in Orange County and not one Puerto Rican. There were 3 non-Puerto Rican, Hispanic appointees. 300,000 Hispanics and not one voice from it’s largest group, that will advise in redistricting?

I’m not angry, anger does nothing. I’m disappointed and as a resident who has spent 25 years in Orange County, ashamed.

The WFTV report had video from County Commissioners Jennifer Thompson and Fred Brummer.

Commissioner Thompson gets a pass, I’ve seen her urge application to county boards through social media. The largest hispanic population in Orange, and she selects a chamber of commerce contact, and a developer darling. Very disappointing.

I honestly believe Commissioner Brummer could care less. His district has a small amount of Hispanic voters, so his political career isn’t affected; but as a conservative, he is part of the problem with minority outreach in the Republican party, here in Central Florida.

I’ve applied to Orange County advisory boards and all I got in return, was an automated reply stating that I would be considered, when a position opened up. Never mind, the fact that those were openings advertised on the website. If I can’t get a position advising on roadkill pick up, I definitely won’t be appointed to help draw district lines!

I don’t want anyone to step down from the selected board. It wouldn’t be appropriate or fair to the existing board member. Here is what I would like to see.

I would like to hear a board announcement that is louder than a whisper, mandatory qualifications integrated into the application process and a phone call follow up to each inquiry. I would also like to see mandatory notices sent out from each county commissioner to constituents on their email lists and social media networks for each opening that becomes available on a board. After this, it will be up to the public to step up and serve and there will be no excuses.

A qualified, diverse and strong body of government should be the goal.

In the end, I see this as being a good thing for the Puerto Rican community. This should be a wake up call, and ultimately bring everyone together to keep Orange County great.

There are at least 3 Hispanics on the board, and that’s what keeps this from becoming a ridiculous oversight of Orange County Government, to just plain sad.

  1. […] week, I wrote about one of the largest groups in Orange County being ignored for appointment to the county redistricting […]

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