East Hampton officials are considering approving a Latino advisory board to help get the town’s Hispanic residents more involved in local government.
“The Latino community is over a third of East Hampton residents and half of its school students,” said Angela Quintero, a native of Colombia who is helping organize the board. “Many local Latinos are American citizens and vote here. In order for East Hampton to progress, the Latino community must be integrated into the political conversation.”
Quintero and Maritza Guichay, who both live in East Hampton Town, will be co-chairs of the advisory board, which will have nine members.
Supervisor Larry Cantwell proposed the idea Tuesday during a town board work session. The board will vote on a resolution to form the panel when it meets Thursday for a regularly scheduled meeting.
“We’re trying to find a vehicle for opening up the communication and dialogue,” Cantwell said Tuesday. “The town had a similar committee 10 or 12 years ago, but for whatever reason there hasn’t been one since.”
Cantwell said the group would keep the Latino community informed about new laws and things happening around town, and would relay the information in Spanish when needed. He said there could be workshops and other gatherings held in Spanish as part of the effort.
“The hope is that more Latinos would begin attending board and other local meetings if they felt more a part of things,” Cantwell said.
Guichay, a native of Ecuador and a local resident since 1999, said she has met with the leaders of East Hampton’s Latino community, who see the effort as a “great opportunity to be heard.”
“We own homes here, we go to school here, we have businesses here and work here,” said Guichay, the comptroller for Plum Builders in East Hampton.
Diana Walker, of Amagansett, said she is helping organize the advisory board because it is overdue.
“There are Latinos here [in East Hampton Town] from Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia,” said Walker, who is white. “The mission is to educate people [about the broader community] and make them aware that they really can contribute. It’s lovely this idea has been welcomed.”