[Excerpt of article by Lau Guzmán, Record-Journal, August 30, 2023]
MERIDEN — Language access for Spanish speakers is becoming an increasingly significant issue for many of the Latinos running in the city’s municipal elections in November. Many of these proposals are coming from candidates who are relatively new to city politics and don’t have the long experience of other candidates on the ballot.
About 11% of the city’s population is foreign-born, according to a report released last month by DataHaven, a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting, analyzing and sharing data. The largest number of immigrants living in the city are from Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. DataHaven also noted that about 13% of Meriden residents speak English less than “very well,” which often makes it difficult for residents to access resources from government and local nonprofits.
The issue extends to the School Board race as a little more than 60% of the district was Latino in the 2022-2023 school year, according to information from EdSight, a data portal that provides information about schools and districts through the Connecticut governmental website. At the same time, 17% of the district were considered English Learners, up from 12% in 2013-2014.
Of course, language access isn’t the only issue for Latinos. Meet some of the Latino candidates who are campaigning on platforms of improving language access, increasing safety, and rallying more constituent participation.
Isabel Rosa-Kaiser aims to improve language access
Language access is a personal issue for City Council candidate Isabel Rosa-Kaiser. Her Puerto Rican mother didn’t speak English, so Rosa-Kaiser watched her struggle to find resources while also battling cancer.