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Glen Cove council candidate is first Hispanic woman to seek post

Marcela De La Fuente after she formally announced

Marcela De La Fuente after she formally announced her candidacy for the Glen Cove City Council as the first Hispanic woman to pursue such office today, June 12, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Christopher Cameron

The first Hispanic woman to run for Glen Cove City Council announced her candidacy Monday.

Marcela De La Fuente is running for a seat at a time when Latino residents in Glen Cove are making efforts to increase their representation in city government, which has lagged behind their overall presence in the community.

De La Fuente said she planned to bridge that divide, although she did not provide specifics on what policies she would pursue while in office.

“Our community suffers from a lack of services because only a handful of public officials are Hispanic,” De La Fuente said at a news conference. “The people of Glen Cove deserve a government that includes everyone in its decision-making process.”

Nearly one-third of Glen Cove’s population identifies as Latino or Hispanic, and most of the nearly 7,600 Latinos in the city are of Central American background, primarily Salvadoran, according to the U.S. Census Bureau surveys from 2011 to 2015 that were released in December.

Only 40 percent of Latino adults in Glen Cove are U.S. citizens and eligible to vote, according to Census estimates. De La Fuente said she would work to increase the number of Hispanic residents in Glen Cove who register to vote.

“We have 1,900 Spanish residents here in Glen Cove who vote,” De La Fuente said. “We know we have a lot more to go. I know a lot of people who have not registered. We are working to get them registered.”

Officials cited language barriers that have deterred Hispanic residents who want to get involved in town, village, or school board meetings.

“The primary focus of the campaign is language access,” said Nelson Melgar, De La Fuente’s campaign consultant. He added that De La Fuente’s policy platform is still being developed.

De La Fuente, 58, migrated from Chile more than 30 years ago. The mother of five is a retired business owner who is running for office for the first time. She is running for one of six seats on the city council.

Glen Cove has had one council member of Latin American ancestry. Steve Gonzalez, who is of half Puerto Rican ancestry, served on the council for eight years as a Republican in the 1980s and 1990s. Peruvian-born candidate Carlos Shimabukuro lost his bid for council in 2015.

All six seats on the council are up for election.

The candidates joining De La Fuente on the Democratic ticket for city council are incumbent councilman Roderick Watson; Andrew Bennett, an assistant school principal; Anne Phillips, a tax administrator; Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, a freelance producer and speech coach; and Roger Williams, a Baptist pastor.

Republican council candidates are incumbents Joseph Capobianco, Nicholas DiLeo Jr., and Pamela Panzenbeck; former Democrat party leader Michael Zangari, Matthew Connolly, an attorney who in 2015 unsuccessfully ran for county legislature; and Kevin Maccarone, an attorney and son of former councilman and planning commission member John Maccarone.

Glen Cove’s mayoral position is also up for election in November, with GOP-endorsed incumbent Reginald Spinello facing Democratic Councilman Timothy Tenke.

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