Jackie Espinosa: ‘Boricuas in Florida Need to Recognize the Immense Power of Our Voice’


Image courtesy of Jackie Espinosa

By Giselle Balido

March 2, 2022

Jackie Espinosa, who is running for a seat in the Osceola County Commission, believes Puerto Ricans can see huge changes in their communities if they vote, but in the right way.

Let’s face it, “redistricting” is not the sexiest subject one can think of; in fact, if pressed, most people couldn’t tell you what it means.  

Yet it’s really very simple: Redistricting means dividing states and the people who live there into geographical territories that determine who represents them.

Why is it so important, you might ask? Because when done fairly, it can ensure that communit­ies have a fair shot at elect­ing candid­ates who repres­ent them and will fight for their concerns. However, if maps are manipulated to favor one party, giving it more representation before the US Congress, the House, and the Florida Senate, it can exclude them from having a seat at the table.

“Redistricting matters!” Jackie Espinosa, who is running for Osceola County Commissioner District 4, emphatically told Floricua. “How the lines are drawn can make a big difference in the laws passed in our communities and where our tax dollars go. This affects the quality of the education, the job opportunities, and the services a community receives.” And this is where you come in.

The Hand that Holds the Ballot, Holds the Power

In Florida, both congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature. Which means that who you elect to office can decide who draws those lines.

For this reason, voter turnout among Boricuas in Florida is a big concern for Espinosa, who thinks Puerto Ricans need to start utilizing their voice to create real change in their communities.

“Part of the problem we’re having is that we are not recognizing the immense power of our own voice,” said Espinosa, who was born in New Jersey to Puerto Rican parents. “We’re not exercising our right to vote. Many of us are not understanding how important our vote is.”

For example, Espinosa says that the 2020 Census showed a high percentage of Latinos living in her district. But it also showed an alarming trend.

“We are termed ‘the most insignificant majority of the minority.’ What they mean is that we have the highest numbers, yet the lowest voter turnout. That is disturbing, because if we only understood how we can assist our own community just by getting involved a little more, we would see a huge change across the board.”

The business owner, who earned a degree in legal studies which later allowed her to pursue a career as senior real estate paralegal, reminds Boricuas that “we come here with a blue passport. Which means we have the right to vote immediately.”

Yet, she says, many Puerto Ricans living in Florida don’t exercise that right because they think they’ll eventually go back to the island.

“But even if we’re here temporarily, we should get involved in what’s going on, because that little bit paves the road,” she said.

Getting Involved, but in a Way That Matters

Espinosa also wants to drive home that if voting is important, when you vote can make a huge difference. The key word: primaries.

“We don’t go out to vote in the primaries,” she said, referring to the time when party members vote in a state election for the candidate that they want to represent them in the general election. “And if you don’t vote in the primaries, nine out of ten times that candidate that you are rooting for won’t make it to the general elections. The minute we wait for the general election in November, we’ve lost the battle.”

For Espinosa, exercising the right to vote is more than a way for Boricuas to have the representation they need in their communities. It is an act of solidarity and, yes, even love, with present and future generations.

“We care about our family; that’s who we are,” she said. “Our legacy has to be generational.”



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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