- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Officials say about 300 people have attended what was described as South Omaha’s first Latino political convention in an effort to help the area become a force in future elections.

The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1kGxW3c ) reports people gathered at the event on Sunday at the Livestock Exchange Building with the goal of boosting voter participation and revealing the results of a “community assessment.” The survey showed how residents live and how they view their community.

Omaha’s 4th Ward, located in South Omaha, had a turnout rate of 36 percent in last November’s general election, the second-lowest rate in the city. The 2nd Ward in north Omaha had a lower turnout rate.

After the results of the assessment were presented, 10 elected officials or candidates, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford, state legislators and school board members, were asked to respond.

Officials discussed several topics, including immigration reform and political participation.

The assessment covered an area of South Omaha that accounts for 32,000 people. Tony Vargas, a member of the Omaha Public Schools board and candidate for Legislative District 7, addressed the assessment’s finding that 29 percent of households in the area have at least one person who was out of work but could be working. Vargas said that more jobs need to be created and businesses need to be supported.

State Sen. Sue Crawford noted how struck she was by the number of people interested in their community and how many more people are trying to get involved in the political process.

Sergio Sosa, executive director of the Heartland Workers Center, said he was proud to have so many politicians speak about community issues.

“They came not to disclose their agendas but to react to the community’s agenda,” Sosa said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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