Ogden City Councilman Luis Lopez and other important community members spoke Sept. 15 in a panel hosted by Weber State University’s Center for Diversity & Unity entitled “Making Your Voice Count in the Hispanic Community.” The event highlighted the importance of voting, especially for the Hispanic portion of the community. Lopez said, “I consider voting to be one of the pillars that holds our democracies together.”

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Luis Lopez, Ogden City At Large Seat C, Oscar Mata, Executive Director for Weber County Democratic Party, Jesse Garcia, former city councilman and Martha Syme, OWATC Diversity and Outreach Coordinator, sit on a panel for Making Your Voice Count in the Hispanic Community, hosted by Weber State University's Center for Diversity & Unity on Thursday, Sep 15. (Dalton Flandro / The Signpost)

Including Lopez, the panel had four speakers: Executive Director Oscar Matra, Diversity and Outreach Coordinator Martha Syme and former Ogden City Councilman Jesse Garcia. The panel was held in the Hurst Center Dumke Legacy Hall between noon and 1:30 p.m. Students and community members were given the opportunity to ask these members of the community questions about being public leaders and even things concerning voting and education for Hispanic children.

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(Dalton Flandro / The Signpost)

“Communication is the most important battle,” Synme said of bettering the Spanish community locally. “If we make sure that we provide those resources to educate ourselves in what we are doing, then we can speak up about things that matter, whether it’s politics, whether it’s understanding why my vote counts or whether it’s if I want to speak up and come to school or to have the rights to be part of the community. That’s very important.”

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Jesse Garcia, former city councilman, speaks at Making Your Voice Count in the Hispanic Community, hosted by Weber State University's Center for Diversity & Unity on Thursday, Sep 15. (Dalton Flandro / The Signpost)

The panelist spoke about what to look for in potential candidates but also spoke about what it was like to grow up as a Hispanic in U.S. society.

“Everywhere you looked, there was so much negativity,” said Garcia, “Like I said, the first forty years of my life were really difficult to be a part of my community. Now it’s much easier.”

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Luis Lopez, Ogden City At Large Seat C, sits on a panel for Making Your Voice Count in the Hispanic Community, hosted by Weber State University's Center for Diversity & Unity on Thursday, Sep 15. (Dalton Flandro / The Signpost)

Garcia also said that “There are a lot of people out there who are going through struggles.” She paraphrased Martin Luther King in saying, “Your life will never be what it ought to be until your fellow member’s, men’s or women’s lives, is what it’s supposed to be.”

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