“The Latino vote is going to be crucial on a scale never seen
before, at least nationally,” says Sepúlveda, who also serves
the administration of President Barack Obama as director
of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for
“Ohio has been a battleground state in the past, but this year
it is at the top of the list. The Latino community has really
never received as much attention as it should have. However,
this year, the Obama campaign is going to do things
differently,” promises Sepúlveda.
Sepúlveda’s comments strongly echo those of Ohio Democratic
activists Richard Romero and Roberto Torres
expressed in last week’s issue of La Prensa.
Romero is a member of the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino
Affairs (OCHLA) and chaired that body in 2008-2009. Torres,
formerly of Toledo and later Canton, is now based in Cleveland.
Sepúlveda stressed that the president’s re-election campaign
recognizes that understanding a community is crucial, and that
is vital to turning out the Latino vote in November.
“We will use people from within the communities…This can no
longer be neglected or taken for granted. We’re going with the
local volunteer side because of the energy and passion which
they generate,” says Sepúlveda.
That’s where Sepúlveda says a different plan is now needed than
was used in the 2008 presidential campaign. This involves giving
more campaign responsibilities and decisions to locals instead
of leaving it all in the hands of out-of-state campaign staff.
This reinforces another key point made in last week’s La
Prensa by both Romero and Torres about the effective use of
more local Ohio campaign workers by the president’s re-election
campaign team. Sepúlveda recalled this concern as having been
expressed to him by Torres in Lorain during CHIP’s Hispanic
How will this be implemented by the Democrats in Ohio where at
least two out-of-state campaign workers are already on the
Although Sepúlveda would not comment yet on Ohio staffing
because he said decisions on staffing in the state still have
not been made, he says Ohio said would clearly follow the
Florida pattern. There, according to Sepúlveda, local Latinos
with strong community ties and with experience in volunteering
are already playing key campaign roles.
“This is different from past campaigns. This is the first
presidential campaign where they are actively on the ground.
“We hired local folks who know the community and the back yards.
That’s never been the way we ran presidential campaigns before,”
Certainly, campaign workers from outside the state are still
part of the Ohio campaign apparatus. However, Sepúlveda says
they will work side-by-side with people who know the local
community and have been through the system before. The
out-of-state staffers need to learn from the locals to gain
knowledge about local Latino community events and leaders.
“We need to know and be aware of these differences, especially
in Ohio where the Puerto Rican influence is greater in Lorain,
and where the culture is more influenced by Mexican-Americans in
Toledo and Columbus,” explains Sepúlveda.
“The same basic differences in Latino sub-groups are true in
Nevada between centers such as Las Vegas and Reno. But this year
we are even focusing our efforts heavily on California, where we
know we are going to win. Although we’ve ignored California
before and taken it for granted, we now have staff on the ground
“If one of our California-based staff persons wants to work Las
Vegas, we will let them go there. But we do not let an
out-of-state person work the other state area without being part
of a team. We will send them into the community with a local
from Las Vegas who already knows the lay of the land and has
practical knowledge of the neighborhood,” says Sepúlveda, in
what could be construed as encouraging news for local Ohio
Latinos eager to participate in the campaign process.
During the weekend, the Ohio Democratic Party’s State Executive
Committee, the governing body of the party, released a list of
those named delegates-at-large to the party’s national
convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, to be held the week of
Sept. 3, 2012. The list included several well-known Latinos:
the internationally-renowned advocate for immigration and
workers rights and founder and president of FLOC, the Farm Labor
Organizing Committee AFL-CIO.
The Cleveland-based visionary, advocating urban growth via
immigration-friendly policies, immigration reform, and the
passage of the DREAM Act.
a member of OCHLA and the founder and principal partner of
Language Access Consultants, LLC as well as an Obama appointee
to the State Justice Institute.
Lourdes Barraso de Padilla, a member of OCHLA and
executive director of City Year in Columbus, where she plays an
active role in organizing that city’s Festival Latino.
Velásquez, Torres, and Framer were all participants in the
Lorain Hispanic Leadership Conference, hosted by CHIP—the
Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress.