Is the path to political power open to Latinos?

Hugo Balta


Nashua is one of the epicenters of demographic change in New Hampshire. The city in Hillsborough County has the most Hispanic-Latinos in the state with nearly 13-percent of the population of more than 88,000, according to U.S. Census data.

Republican Steve Negron and Democratic state Rep. Manny Espitia both from the Gate City, joined WMUR’s Close Up program to talk about the challenges and opportunities Hispanics-Latinos face in the increasingly diverse state.

Elected in 2016, Negron served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Espitia, a rising star in the Democratic Party, represents Nashua’s fourth ward.

When asked if the path to political power is open to Latinos, both shared that the system needs to be more accessible.

“I say there’s always ways to make it better. but you’ve got to start somewhere, and I think with Manny in there now and when I was there a couple years ago,” said Negron. “I think really shows that we’re really having an opportunity to open up the gateway for people locally to get into the state politics.”

“I think we definitely need to work to make it easier for folks to be able to come in,” Espitia said.

Both said they have confronted and overcome discrimination. In an interview on the Latino News Network podcast, “3 Questions With…”, Espitia recalled being the target of the Nationalist Social Club, a neo-Nazi group also known as NSC-131 earlier this year, after condemning racist graffiti that read in part: Keep New England White.

According to screenshots on social media, an anonymous NSC 131 posted: “Anyone w/ a name like ‘Manny Espitia,’ State Rep or not, has no moral right to throw shade at any true (White) Nationalist New Hampshirite. You have no right to be here, you’re an occupier here & the days of these types trampling on New England are coming to an end.”

The State Representative said he was disappointed Attorney General John Formella found the racist statements directed at him did not rise to a criminal act or civil rights violation.

SUGGESTION: Census: Latinos go BIG but remain small in New Hampshire