Important issues to the Latino Community


For the past few years, the election for New York’s 25th Congressional District of the House of Representatives has been one of the most highly contested in the state. This year’s election is not shaping up to be any different. Both the Republican candidate, Ann Marie Buerkle, and the Democratic candidate, Dan Maffei, have campaign advertisements you have probably seen or read in the mainstream media. CNY Latino presents you with the opinions of the candidates on questions that affect the Latino community, before you go to vote on November 2nd. 

1. How do you think we can increase employment among Hispanics in a meaningful way?

Buerkle: First, we have to increase the number of jobs in the economy in upstate New York, and in the country for everyone. This will certainly impact the Hispanic community. Next, we need to have a good education system. We need to get to children, when they are in grammar school and high school, and make sure they know what opportunities are available to them. There are wonderful programs in the healthcare profession. Someone needs to take an interest in the student, whether he or she is Hispanic, African American or living in a difficult situation, and ask, “what are you interested in?”, and find out what are the student’s strengths.  They need an adult to help them through the process, and explain the potential they have as a human being.

Maffie: Education is so important to making sure that every American has an opportunity to get a good job, and join the middle class.  If we can improve our underfunded schools, and give every child a good education, these numbers can improve.

2. Do you favor English-immersion or Bilingual education for Spanish speaking children and other English language learners in U.S. public schools?

Buerkle: I think we need both. Being able to speak Spanish fluently is a tremendous asset in an international market. However, I think we are also doing these children a disservice, when we do not make them as equally fluent in English. They need both languages, when they enter the workforce to put themselves at an advantage.

Maffei: I support giving every student the opportunity to learn in the best way possible.  Having strong language skills is an important part of success in our modern economy, but we should be looking for the best way for children to achieve those skills no matter their background.

3. What policy changes are you in favor of to increase graduation rates among Hispanics, and make them college ready?

Buerkle: I want to reform education in order to make sure we are addressing the needs of every student, and to empower students to be more successful. Also, these national mandates are not helpful. They create more burdens and strings that our school districts have to accommodate. I say we make education more local. Keep those dollars in state and local government. Let the school boards, parents and communities work with the children and decide.

Maffei: We need to make sure that every school has the resources it needs to educate our children.  Too often, mandates from Washington eat up funding, but don’t improve the education available to our kids.  Instead, let’s give our schools the resources, and let our local communities make the right decisions about what our children need to succeed.

4.  What can be done to support Hispanic college students?

Buerkle: It is important to make sure students are mentored, and given choices, when they are in High School. Beyond that, I don’t think we have done a good enough job keeping tuition costs down. Increases in Pell grants and scholarship money from the Federal government have driven up college costs. Over the last 25 years, the cost of college has tripled, and the average income of a middle class family has risen only 10%. We are incentivizing colleges to raise their tuition, and there has not been enough oversight. This disproportionately affects lower income and middle class families, who cannot afford it. I think you have to look at how colleges are spending their money, and they have to be held to a higher standard.

Maffei: We should be working with our great colleges and universities here in CNY to make college more affordable for every student.  Instead of cutting Pell Grants and student loans, as the Ryan Budget does, we should be looking for ways to support middle and lower income college students so that they can graduate without crushing debt and serve their communities.

5.  What policies do you propose to insure the uninsured portion of the Hispanic population?

Buerkle: If we can get the American people and the Latino population back to work more than likely they will be able to afford health insurance or it will be a part of their employment. So from where I stand, jobs and the economy are the number one issue. The other day, I heard a story about a single mother with small children. When she got a job, they took away her Medicaid and Food Stamps. It seems to me we ought to have better programs than this all or nothing. We want to say, if you can work, and can’t afford health insurance, we will help you. We will base it on a sliding scale. I think we have to look at our policies.

Maffei: I believe that the Affordable Care Act is a first step towards getting more Americans health insurance.  We need to continue to improve the law where necessary, and we must do more to reduce the rise in costs of healthcare through smart policy and innovation.

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