SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose Latino leaders and allies came together Monday to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint the first Latino or Latina senator from California. 

The press conference comes as California’s own Kamala Harris is set to be the first woman and person of color to serve as vice president of the United States — leaving a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. 

“Since last week Latino leaders from across our state have come together in Sacramento, in the Central Valley, in Southern California, San Diego and Los Angeles,” said California’s 30th District Assemblymember Robert Rivas.

“Leaders who represent over 15 million Latinos, Latinos who call California home, the largest population of Latinos in the United States of America,” Rivas added. 

“And we are gathered here this morning to join our colleagues from across California … we are united in respectfully asking the governor to recognize our community, its contributions and its needs.”

Hosted at the historic Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco and the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley coordinated to bring together more than a dozen of the Bay Area’s Latinx leadership calling for the governor to appoint its first-ever Latino senator in the state’s 170 year history. 

“With so much at stake heading into this new era, the time is now for California to select its first-ever Latino senator,” said District 5 Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco. 

“In fact, never before has the field of eligible and viable Latino leaders been so robust and prepared to lead at the Senate level,” Carrasco added. 

“Issues ranging from U.S. citizenship for our two and half million lawful permanent California residents, to the economy, to education and the environment … these demand a Latino representative.”

Latinos account for roughly 40% of the state’s population and amid COVID-19 continued to prove to be critical and essential to the state’s economy by generating approximately $100 billion annually. 

But despite the Latino community’s significant contributions to the economy, the coronavirus is disproportionately sickening the  Latino population — making up nearly 60% of COVID-19 cases.  

In Santa Clara County, Latinos recorded 58.6% of 31,103 total COVID-19 cases and 34.9% of COVID-19 related deaths. 

Leaders say California’s history is intrinsically tied to the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latinx community and experience — and urge state leadership to appoint Latino representation to the U.S. Senate to create racial equity through representation. 

“We have been seen for many many generations but we have not been heard,” said Cindy Chavez, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

“How do you reflect that we are being heard? … you chose one of the brilliant, amazing, energized leaders throughout this state that are Latino that are ready to serve in this position.”

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