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Report: Latinos Lack Power In City Governments

While the numbers of Latino residents in Boston and the surrounding communities of Somerville and Chelsea are growing, a report released Tuesday suggests that Hispanics are not well represented in leadership positions in city government.

The authors of the study, commissioned by the advocacy group Greater Boston Latino Network, said increasing diversity at city halls would help government better meet the needs of multicultural communities.

"This is not just about Latinos. This is about the quality of government. Inclusive government is better government," Miren Uriarte, a report coauthor and a University of Massachusetts Boston professor, told The Boston Globe, which released details of the study Tuesday morning.

In a separate announcement Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said he was appointing the city's first-ever chief diversity officer. Shaun Blugh, currently a recruiter for IMB Development Corp., will be assigned to monitor and encourage diversity in the municipal workforce.

"Even before being sworn in as mayor, I made some very ambitious and serious promises about increasing diversity across our workforce and ensuring that city government reflects the people we represent," Walsh said in a statement announcing the appointment of Blugh and of Freda Brasfield as deputy chief diversity officer.

The report noted that while one in every six Boston residents is Latino, only one Hispanic serves in Walsh's 13-member cabinet and Latinos account for only 7 percent of city department heads or appointees to boards and commissions.

"When people see themselves represented they are going to be more likely to be engaged, to come out to vote, to support candidates that really speak to the needs of their own communities or their own families," Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, told WBUR.

In Somerville, where 10 percent of the population is Latino, Hispanics make up only 2 percent of leadership positions at City Hall.

In Chelsea, a city just north of Boston, Latinos make up about 60 percent of the population, but represent only 14 percent of the top positions in city government.

With reporting from the Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom.

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