WHAT: Press Conference to launch month of action leading up to the November local elections in Suffolk County
WHEN: Thursday, October 13, Noon
WHERE: Ross Park, Brentwood, Long Island. The park is located on Brentwood Road, between Suffolk Ave. and 2nd Ave, by the bus hub.
Today, Latino and African American community members came together to announce the creation of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), a new non-partisan initiative led by Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Long Island Immigrant Alliance, and CARECEN- to spur civic participation and foster greater government accountability. Participants also announced a month of action to mobilize low-income voters for the upcoming county and township elections in Suffolk County.
In 2008, the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who lost his life in a violent hate crime, put Suffolk County in the national spotlight as a bedrock of anti-immigrant politics. At the same time, Suffolk’s working class communities have been overwhelmed with forecloses, job losses, and deepening economic insecurity. Three years after the Lucero killing, Latino and African American residents of Suffolk County are coming together to launch a non-partisan voter education and mobilization effort to ensure that the new County and Town governments recognize the contributions and priorities of working class communities of color and focus their efforts on promoting real solutions to the urgent economic issues facing these communities.
Participants discussed issues like foreclosure, unemployment, low-wages, and school and service cuts, and expressed frustration by the fact that many local elected officials have remained largely unresponsive to these communities’ needs, instead focusing their energy on promoting anti-immigrant policies.
Harold Watzkin, a Central Islip resident and member of New York Communities for Change, said “there are too many foreclosures in our communities and too few services being offered to our struggling neighbors. Our vote is our voice. The community needs to get out and vote if we really want to see politicians pay attention to the needs of Central Islip.”
María Magdalena Flores, a Brentwood resident and member of Make the Road New York, added, “Our communities have suffered too much from hate crimes, discrimination, and the irresponsibility of certain politicians in Suffolk County. Now is the time to go to the polls to vote in numbers so that they listen to and respect us.”
Through CARECEN’s work, LICET is also expanding the voter base by helping legal permanent residents complete their naturalization process. As Pat Young, CARECEN’s program director and LIIA Board member, explained: “CARECEN is working to turn immigrants into the most vital opponents of hate mongers-informed and voting United States citizens. Suffolk officials who try to win votes by scapegoating immigrants will be held accountable by new citizens anxious to move the county forward and help it emerge from its climate of fear.”
At Thursday’s press conference, speakers from various community organizations unveiled a month of extensive voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts in low-income Suffolk communities to mobilize thousands of voters to the elections on November 8th.