Editor’s Note: The President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials sent a letter to President Elect Joe Biden on November 10:
On behalf of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), I write to congratulate you on your election as President of the United States. NALEO and its members stand ready to work alongside you to address the issues that face Latinos and all Americans. I also write to strongly recommend that you appoint qualified Latinos to top positions at all levels in your Administration once you take office as President. We believe there should be no less than five Latinos appointed to Cabinet–level positions, to at minimum surpass the highest number of Latinos ever serving at one time in such positions in a Presidential Administration, which was four. We also believe your Administration should have a strong Latino presence at every level, to fully reflect the diversity of our nation’s population and to benefit from the wealth of talent and commitment that Latinos bring to public service.
NALEO is the non-profit non-partisan leadership organization of the nation’s more than 6,800 Latino elected and appointed officials. Its members and Board include Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
We believe your Administration can be faithful to these values by ensuring that Latinos comprise at least 20% of all appointed positions, to reflect the full diversity of our nation and to enrich your Administration with leaders who will help our nation move forward in the coming decade.
You have identified four critical issues as your Administration’s priorities – COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change. Latinos comprise 18% of the nation’s population and are its second largest population group. Given the disproportionate impact of these issues on the Latino community, your success and the success of our nation depend on your ability to ensure that the needs of Latinos are addressed as you move forward with your vision of a just and equitable recovery. Without the expertise and experience Latinos bring to our nation’s governance, your Administration will miss an opportunity to effectively undertake the many tasks you have identified, such as developing implementation options for policy and management agendas for federal agencies. For these reasons, we believe it is particularly important that your Administration appoint Latinos to Cabinet-level positions beyond those where they have traditionally served. For example, our nation has yet to have a Latino serve as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, or Secretary of Treasury.
Moreover, in past Administrations, Latinos have failed to be fully represented in Cabinet-level and other appointed positions. When you take office, you will have the opportunity to fill thousands of positions in your Administration, as well as governing posts on advisory boards, commissions, and other bodies within the federal government. We note you state your transition will prioritize such core values as diversity of ideology and background; talent to address society’s most complex challenges; and integrity and the highest ethical standards to serve the American people. We believe your Administration can be faithful to these values by ensuring that Latinos comprise at least 20% of all appointed positions, to reflect the full diversity of our nation and to enrich your Administration with leaders who will help our nation move forward in the coming decade. There are talented Latinos serving as elected and appointed officials, and our members have worked tirelessly on the frontlines to surmount the obstacles facing our communities and all Americans. There are also skilled and dedicated Latino civic and community leaders, as well as in the private sector, who are extremely qualified to serve at every level of your Administration.
Ultimately, we urge you to appoint no less than five Latinos to Cabinet-level positions, to at minimum surpass the highest number of Latinos ever serving at one time in such positions in a Presidential Administration. We also urge you to ensure a strong Latino presence in all your appointments. We look forward to working with you to achieve this important goal, and will provide recommendations and lists of qualified Latino candidates who will proudly serve our nation in your Administration.
Ricardo Lara is the President of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and is the California Insurance Commissioner.
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