State Lawmakers Form Bipartisan Latino Legislative Caucus


Wednesday, May 5th 2021, 6:13 pm
By: Storme Jones


OKLAHOMA CITY -

They're the state's fastest growing population and now Latinos have a caucus within the state legislature. 

Sen. Michael Brooks, D-OKC, said just five years ago there was one Latino lawmaker at the state Capitol. Now that number has grown to four. 

“We have two people from the House, two people from the Senate. And we have two Republicans and two Democrats,” Brooks said. “We are small but mighty.”  

Despite coming from opposite sides of the aisle and opposite sides of the building, members of the Oklahoma Legislative Latino Caucus said they actually have a lot in common. 

“The idea of growing up in a world where I didn’t have many teachers that looked like me, didn’t have really any elected leaders around me that looked like me, this concept of being a Latino kid that can maybe one day do this job was very foreign to me,” Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond said.  

Rep. Jose Cruz said he learned English in the first grade, became a naturalized citizen at 20, and graduated law school two years ago. 

“My grandparents both came from Mexico and I wonder sometimes if they were still alive if they would’ve ever thought that their granddaughter would ever be serving in a position like this,” Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, said. “I kind of wish they could see now.” 

The caucus said next session, they'll open the group to non-Latino lawmakers who represent heavily Latino districts.  

“I’ll give you an example, Guymon has a thriving and growing Latino community. None of us represent Guymon but there are some people in this building that do, that live in that area that know the issues that happen in that district,” Martinez said. 

Next session, the caucus said they'll also be inviting Latino staff to join the group.