According to the US Census, Latinos account for about 9.9% of Georgia's 11 million population. But as revealed by last week’s Georgia special Senate election, a few thousand votes can make a big difference. Even before polls opened for the January 5th Senate runoffs in Georgia, Latinos surpassed their best turnout numbers when compared to previous runoff elections. For example, in the race for secretary of state in 2018, about 10% of Latinos who turned out in the general election showed up again in the runoff. As of last Monday, about 65% of Latinos who had voted early in the general election also voted early in the runoff.
Several groups worked overtime to GOTV among Latinx voters. A coalition of six Georgia-based nonprofits registered and turned-out Latinos included Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Georgia Familia Unidas, Coalition of Latino Leaders, Dignidad Imigrante and Los Vecinos de Buford Highway. National groups such as Mi Familia Vota, Mijente, Hispanic Federation, Poder Latinx, Voto Latino, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, LIBRE Action added resources and manpower to turn out Latinos. Fair Fight, the group started by voting rights activist and political leader Stacey Abrams also focused some of its election work on Latino voters. Mijente, which has worked several years in Georgia, also worked with Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
Hear from LA-area Latinos that drove to Georgia to assist with GOTV to Latinx communities in areas such as Dalton, Cedartown, Savannah and Atlanta. Hear how they encouraged Georgia’s Latinos to vote with innovative and effective engagement strategies and how they connected with and educated voters in meaningful ways.
Featuring Ricardo Mireles, Executive Director, Academia Avance
Ricardo Mireles is the founder Academia Avance, a college preparatory charter public school located in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. Development started in 2004, with authorization granted in May of 2005 by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Operations commenced that summer with 100 students in grades 6-7. Avance now serves over 300 students in grades 6-12. The charter was renewed by the Los Angeles County Board of Education in 2010, and again by the State Board of Education in 2015 and 2020.
Development of Avance followed Ricardo's stint at the California Charter Schools Association in 2003. CCSA was his crash course on all things charter, after spending four years at the LAUSD, having joined in 2000 the team that launched the planning and eventual construction of 120 new schools. It was at LAUSD the he came to realize that even more than just needing new school facilities, Los Angeles needed a new way of schooling kids.
Mr. Mireles brings to Avance Schools a broad range of experiences in public policy and technology. Mr. Mireles has taught at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, and at the Don Bosco Technical Institute. He completed a fellowship in public affairs with the Coro Foundation - New York City in 1990. He is a graduate of the Don Bosco Technical Institute, has a B.A. in Anthropology from Columbia College, and has completed graduate work in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ricardo lives with his wife Raquel, son Sol and their bull terrier in Highland Park.
Featuring Graco Hernandez Valenzuela, University of California at Irvine, Alumnus
Born and raised in Northeast Los Angles by immigrant parents, Graco Hernandez is a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine. Specializing in theatre and political science, he has an interest in both arenas and wishes to nurture both moving forward. Most recently, Graco supported the grassroots efforts in Georgia's 2021 Senate Runoff elections.
Featuring Orayka Alexander, Community Organizer, GA Familias Unidas
Orayka Alexander is CEO for the financial services firm she started in 2006, Alexander Multiservices. During the 2020 General Election and the subsequent Senate Runoffs she volunteered with GA Familias Unidas to turnout voters in the heavily LatinX populated towns along I-85 running Northeast from Altlanta. She grew up in the Dominican Republic and later in New Jersey, but met her Mexican husband-to-be in Georgia... so their kids represent the diverse New South.