Utah Democrats Encourage Latino Participation

Feb 13, 2014

On Wednesday, Utah's four elected Latino legislators met with the public at the Utah State Capitol to outline and discuss pieces of legislation they are introducing and supporting during this legislative session.

Matt Lyon, executive director of Utah's Democratic Party, said all of the Hispanic elected officials in the state belong to the Democratic Party. He said Utah Democrats are increasing efforts to encourage Latino residents to participate in politics. As director of the party, Lyon is concerned by figures that indicate 13 percent of residents living in Utah are Latino but make up only 6 percent of the electorate.

"Are we making sure that we are being representative and that we are supporting our diverse communities," said Lyon. "That we are supporting our Hispanic and Latino populations and making sure that they are getting the same opportunities that we are giving everybody else?"

The Utah Democratic Party has hired a new Latino Outreach Director.  Jerry Castro-Cayetano has overseen outreach programs in Texas and New York.  He also worked on President Obama's presidential campaign.  Lyon said Castro-Cayenta is working with the party to address education, salaries and wages, and social-economic issues within Utah's Latino communities throughout Utah and in Northern Utah.

"It is a very significant portion of our population." said Cache County Democratic Party Chairman, Vincent Wickwar.

According to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau, 13 percent of Logan's population reported to be of Latino descent.  And, the Latino population makes up 30 percent of the students at Logan High School.

"It is a struggle to get everyone involved and thinking that these elections are important to them," he said.

Cache County Democrats are working with the state democratic party to encourage voter turnout and to train potential candidates for local and state races. To address local topics, Wickwar said the Cache County group has a volunteer who will help introduce the party to groups and individuals wanting to learn more about voting or running for an office.