* This article first appeared in The
Times Herald-Record on March 8, 2001. Used by permission.
figures reflect rise in Latino population locally
are gaining political and financial clout.
By Wayne A. Hall
The Times Herald-Record
Maria Maceda comes from Honduras' second largest city, San Pedro, where
poverty grips people's lives.
Now she's invested her savings, in the Dolarito (everything's a buck)
store on Newburgh's Broadway.
In small cities like Newburgh and Middletown, Latino population numbers
are jumping, and the financial clout of Latinos is growing.
Preliminary year 2000 Census figures reported in yesterday's Washington
Post project Hispanics are now on a population par with African-Americans.
So does this mean Hispanics are flexing newly developed political and
cultural biceps? Yup, and to them, the census figures of Hispanic growth
are old news.
"I saw it years ago," says Broadway music store owner Rene Campos, who
is active on the YMCA's board of directors. But he wishes more Latinos
were in positions where they could help with access to places where
Spanish is rarely spoken, such as some hospitals.
And local politicians yesterday said they'll be glad to do some of the
heavy lifting to put the Latino agenda up front.
"We're reaching out, registering more voters," says Orange County Democratic
Party chair Jonathan Jacobson, a Newburgh lawyer. "We think that Newburgh
city Mayor Andrew Marino's election was partly due to the statement
during the election by (GOP hopeful) Mary Crabb that Latinos tend to
be hard to reach because they're clannish."
"I don't think they know that (about the election outcome)," counters
GOP county party Chairman John Hicks, a Warwick lawyer. "We're always
eager to be inclusive."
While the raw figures aren't available yet for Newburgh and Middletown,
they're expected any moment, says Middletown's economic development
director, Neil Novesky. He's seeing Latinos making an impact culturally,
economical and politically.
The numbers tell the story. "When I was a boy," says county Legislator
Jeffrey Berkman, "the number of Hispanics in Middletown was about
2 percent." Now its 13 percent, according to the 1990 Census. It was
the same in Newburgh, where Hispanics are 23 percent of the population,
African-Americans 33 percent.
Will those numbers hold? If anything, they will change upwards, Novesky
Take a walk through Newburgh and you see the Latino numbers piling up
behind a potential political floodgate.
There are Latino lawyers, bodegas, restaurants galore, a night club,
all suggesting a growing clientele. There's even a taxi company in Newburgh
sporting the name of the Mexican hometown Œ Puebla Œ for city's many
"This is a good place to start a business," Maceda said.