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Midterm election candidates court Latino voters in Charlotte

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Kayla Young
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WFAE/La Noticia
Potential voters mingle with election candidates at Midnight Mulligan Brewing on Thursday.

This story was produced through a collaboration between WFAE and La Noticia. You can read it in Spanish at La Noticia. Puedes leer la nota en español en La Noticia.

Charlotte’s Latino voters got a rapid-fire introduction Thursday evening to dozens of midterm election candidates, bidding for positions in North Carolina courts, the county board of commissioners and the school board.

The voter outreach event, hosted by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce Charlotte at Midnight Mulligan Brewing, gave each candidate 90 seconds to make their pitch.

Chamber president Gris Bailey said the social aspect of the event sought to appeal to Latino voters, who want to see that candidates are actually paying attention to community needs.

“There are over a million Latinos here in North Carolina. Our GDP in the United States is $2.8 trillion,” Bailey said, referring to a report from the Latino Donor Collaborative.

“I think that we need to do a better job in getting Latinos together so that we can exercise our vote and we can help leaders make decisions on our behalf.”

About 80 potential voters attended Thursday's event. A survey of the crowd ranked immigration policies, fair wages, school safety and housing as leading election issues.

Marta Tataje, a co-host with the National Association of Hispanic Realtors, said Latinos share many of the same political priorities as other demographics.

“What's really important to note is that our needs are not different really than any other community's needs,” Tataje said.

“It's just that there's going to be more of us that are going to be apparent and we're going to be able to vocalize more that the needs are there.”

Attendee Sheila Garcia Garcia said she’ll be voting this November, not just for herself but for her family.

“I was born and raised in Charlotte, but my parents are immigrants, so to me, it does matter. I am very observant of what they have to say. I care about their background as well, so I listen to every detail,” Garcia Garcia said.

“Gen Z Latino voters are coming out to vote. We're voting for our families. We're voting for our grandparents. We're voting for our siblings who can't vote.”

One challenge for campaigners will be boosting Latino turnout. One study, by the Naleo Education Fund, projects fewer than half of North Carolina’s more than 250,000 registered Latino voters will turn out this November.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.