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WUWM is honoring the lives of Latinos in Milwaukee and their contributions to the community during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa talks empowering the Latino community

Maayan Silver
Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa speaks at podium.

Mirroring many trends across the country, the Hispanic community in Milwaukee County is continuing to grow — now making up about 40% of the entire state’s Latino population. Milwaukee Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa represents a large portion of this burgeoning community.

As Zamarripa looks at this growth in population she also points out that the Latino community in Wisconsin also has a vast economic impact that she says cannot be ignored.

“I'm excited to know we are growing (the Latino community) in our population growth across the great state of Wisconsin, and have become the largest minority group in the state,” says Zamarripa. ”Immigrants across the board have always had a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and that is no different in our Latino community."

As the size and influence of the Latino population in Wisconsin continues to grow, Zamarripa says she is focusing on how to help the Latino community be heard. When assessing what she feels needs to be improved, Zamarripa pinpointed a long-standing trend in the Latino community — a low voter turnout.

“It concerns me greatly because I see us not gaining the political influence in our local and state governments in the way that I believe that we should,” Zamarripa continues. “We are, in many aspects, the future of the great state of Wisconsin, so that concerns me a great deal that I'm not seeing our great members (of the Latino community) being translated to political influence and power in the way that I think it should.”

With Wisconsin's gubernatorial race approaching, Zamarripa is not only focusing on getting the Latino community to use their vote, but getting them to use it in a way that she feels will best represent them.

“I'm very supportive of the governor in his reelection, he has already taken a historic step, an unprecedented step in standing with immigrant Wisconsinites by supporting things like tuition equity for Wisconsin Dreamers and drivers licenses for undocumented Wisconsinites,“ says Zamarripa.

Looking past the race for governor, Zamarripa detailed some of the things that she would like to see in Wisconsin’s political sphere.

“Now what we need is a legislature to follow Tony’s (Governor Evers) lead,” says Zamarripa. “I have seen us falter when it comes to bilingualism, English and Spanish in particular, considering we (the Latino community) are again the fastest growing minority group, and yet I haven't seen government at any level here in Wisconsin really truly work to be bilingual and bicultural for their Latino/ Spanish preference constituency.”

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
Beck Andrew Salgado was a producer with Lake Effect.
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