Latino leaders hold summit

February 14, 2009 4:58:00 PM PST
There was a first of its kind meeting in downtown Saturday, the Houston Area Latino Summit. The purpose was to discuss the big problems facing Houston Latinos and to build a network of leaders ready to tackle those issues. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

"This is the first summit of its kind here in Houston," said Houston City Council Member James Rodriguez.

For Council Member Rodriguez, the crowd of more than 300 Latino leaders meeting downtown on a Saturday morning says that they care just as much as he does about the future of Houston Hispanics.

That's what they're all here to talk about, starting with the addition of two city council seats sometime in the near future and the 2010 census.

"That the Latino population is accurately counted and that it's an opportunity for redistricting to pick up more Latino council seats, state senate seats, and congressional seats," said Council Member Rodriguez.

The 2010 census and educating the Latino population of its importance are paramount.

Council Member Rodriguez added, "Federal funding is based on the accurate numbers and even transportation dollars, mobility, also healthcare."

In the room, longtime leaders and new faces were all looking to connect and figure out just how to turn this energy into action.

Berta Mejia, Presiding Judge of Municipal Courts said, "It's nice to hear what everyone is doing and what we can all do together as a group to meet the needs of the community."

Houston resident Christina Cabral, "I'm excited about all the Latino leadership from all different backgrounds coming together today to find out how we can mentor and help our role in community to make Houston a better place."

We even found students in the group who were attending to hear about the big issues of education, immigration, and jobs.

University of Houston student Pedro Diaz commented, "There's plenty of Hispanics here. We need to go out and vote and make our voice heard. We need to flex our political muscle."

One of Diaz's colleagues, Hillary Sotello, said, "As a Latina, I want to hear what they all have to say, what their issues are, and where they stand on different things."

The organizers are hoping to keep the group in touch and to meet again. For more information on the Houston Area Latino Summit, click here .

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