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Coalition’s Voices of the New New York Forum Looks Ahead to 2016 Election Season

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 2126272227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York  (Wednesday, December 3, 2014)

Coalition’s Voices of the New New York Forum Looks Ahead to 2016 Election Season

On Wednesday, December 3rd, the New York Immigration Coalition and the CUNY Graduate Center held the Voices of the New New York Forum, bringing together leaders in government, the labor movement, the non-profit sector, and academic institutions to share best practices and lessons learned from the 2014 elections. We were joined by Arab American Association of NY, La Fuente, Minkwon Center for Community Action, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, NYS Immigrant Action, Make The Road Action Fund, Citizen Action, Community Voices Heard Power, SEIU 1199, 32BJ SEIU, TWU Local 100, New York Central Labor Council, Common Cause, Citizens Union, Partnership for a New American Economy, Bridgeroots, and the CUNY Mapping Service of the Center for Urban Research. Voices of the New New York Forum was the first election debrief of its kind where partners and allies mapped and evaluated immigrant communities’ electoral impact on the 2014 midterm elections.

The Forum began with partners reflecting on the 2014 midterm election in relation to past elections and providing an ethnic breakdown of voters across New York. By analyzing election results, voter data, and voter engagement methods, we gained insight that has enabled us to develop a model aimed at transforming electoral participation in New York and to determine best practices for the road to the 2016 election. Policy leaders also discussed reform methods to engage historically disenfranchised communities in the electoral process.

After the forum, panelists laid out the road towards the 2016 election season with a number of collaborative priorities to engage immigrant communities.

“We thank all of our partners for coming together to think through lessons learned from the most recent election cycle,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Through the Voices of the New New York Forum, we have begun to look towards the 2016 election cycle and what we need to do to mobilize and empower immigrant communities to the voting booth. We look forward to boosting electoral participation to ensure that immigrant issues remain priority in the 2016 race.”

Left to Right: Linda Sarsour, executive director of Arab American Association of New York; Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuentes; Valeria Treves, executive director of NICE; Grace Shim, executive director of MinKwon Center for Community Action speak at the Voices of the New New York panel.

“The Voices of New New York forum was a great way to continue to learn and share best practices for engaging New Americans in the electoral process. We will continue to work with our diverse partners to ensure the immigrant vote continues to grow and strengthen its influence both in and out of the ballot box,” said Lucia Gomez, Executive Director, La Fuente.

“Proud of the work we have done to galvanize voters but much more work needs to be done. We continue to engage in trial and error to find the best tactics and strategies to get out the vote. The next step is to encourage more immigrants to run for office and engage communities on issues like campaign finance reform,” said Linda Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of NY.

“NICE joined other grassroots organizations, labor unions, PACs, under the leadership of the New York Immigration Coalition to discuss the future of immigrant voting in New York,” said Valeria Treves, Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment. “Together we shared challenges and how we can collaborate and improve our outreach efforts for 2016. At NICE, members are dedicated to educating their voting-eligible Latino neighbors on all candidates in their community and to educate candidates on the issues relevant to our communities. We are committed to building leadership within our community to stand with immigrants and support issues that directly affect us. As a collective of immigrant rights groups in New York City, we will continue to look critically into how to better engage immigrant communities for the 2016 elections.”

"Immigrants are part of the fabric of America, but the obstacles to integration and equality are large, with the Asian American community having to overcome cultural, language and racial barriers to its empowerment,” said Grace Shim, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. “MinKwon is proud to join its allies and the New York Immigration Coalition in leading the way for civic engagement that brings the voices of our community's marginalized to City Hall, Albany and Washington DC."

"Engaging new New Yorkers in civic action and mobilizing their electoral power is more important than ever, as special interest money threatens to drown out the voices of regular people, said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY. "Common Cause NY is eager to collaborate with our partners to increase civic engagement in marginalized communities as we fight for democracy reforms across the state."

“Citizens Union was glad to be a part of the Voices of the New NY Forum as it produced valuable conversation around the need to increase access to the ballot for all New Yorkers, especially new immigrants, which is a key component to the CU mission and the challenges we face in making it so,” said Dick Dadey, executive director, Citizens Union. “When more New Yorkers vote, our democracy functions better and we can hold our elected officials more accountable.”

“The forum by NYIC was the start of a much needed discussion with community organizations , Labor and good government groups around civic engagement and voter turnout ,” said Marvin Holland, political director, TWU Local 100. “NYIC can count on TWU Local 100 to partner with them going forward to bring this most vital discussion to communities all over NY.”

The New York Immigration Coalition and the CUNY Graduate Center convened an impressive convening labor, nonprofit and good government advocates to discuss better ways to organize voters and encourage electoral participation. The lessons learned and shared from organizing this year are important in shaping the issues and advocacy that will define legislative goals for the coming years,” said Bessie Schachter, program director, NYS Immigrant Action.

"We've seen that the Rising American Electorate can be engaged around our issues. The challenge is to make sure we are engaging people year-round, not just during elections,” said Kristina Andreotta, NYC campaigns manager, Citizen Action of New York. “We also need to identify and promote our own candidates, who are from the communities, from the grassroots, who live these issues day in and day out. And we need to get big money out of politics so that the wealthy few stop drowning out the voices of our communities."

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The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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