Only 1 percent of elected representatives are Latino, even though Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population. The representation gap is particularly stark in Pasco, Washington. Despite making up 60 percent of the city and 70 percent of the county population, Latinos have no representation except a long city council member—there’s not even a Latino member of the school board, despite the school district being overwhelmingly Latino.
For the most part, Pasco’s Latino residents didn’t try to change the status quo. But things changed after videos of local police shooting and killing an undocumented, mentally ill farm worker named Antonio Zambrano Montes started circulating online. Many Latinos in town felt frustrated with how local officials were handling the investigation, and several decided to run for city council. One of them was Bertha Alicia Coria, a 19-year-old college student and substitute teacher who suddenly found herself thrust into the world of politics. Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop followed her one-woman campaign.
Photo of Bertha Alicia Corea (Marlon Bishop/Latino USA)
3 thoughts on “Death and an Election in Pasco”
As a resident of Pasco, I must point out that the lack of representation of Latinos in elected government is largely due to lack of participation in the political process by the Latino population. The school board, for example, is currently all white, but there have been Latinos on the Pasco School District board in the past. However, none stood for election this time. Election of city council and school board members by district might help, but until more Latino community leaders like Saul Martinez stand for election and Lationos begin to vote in proportion to their percentage of the population, they will remain under represented.
I enjoyed reading and listening to the article. Thank you for interviewing me Marlon.