News4's Erika Gonzalez spoke with Prince George's Co. Executive Rushern Baker and asked why it's taking so long to get a Hispanic representative on the county's school board.
As Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker reviews applications to fill a spot on the county's school board, members of a seemingly under-represented community say Baker's selection is very important to them.
The county's most powerful Hispanic leaders held a news conference last month voicing their disappointment in the county executive not appointing at least one Hispanic person the board after changing the school governance structure.
"Out of the 14, not one is Latino when we make up almost 23 percent of the population in the system," Del Joseline Pena Melnyk (D-Dist. 21).
There has been an open spot on the board since member Carletta Fellows stepped down in District 7, a predominantly African American community with very few Hispanics.
"Our fastest growing population is Latinos so we want to make sure they are represented so we are going to try," Baker told News4 last week.
State Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) said the county needs to do a better job showing it is inclusive and progressive sooner rather than later.
"We're trying to create a government that is reflective of a population and right now we're falling short of that," Ramirez said.
He told News4 he and other Latino leaders supported a Hispanic candidate in June -- a Princeton graduate with two master's degrees -- but even she didn't make the cut for three school board appointments made by Baker.
"When you have applicants like that and they're not given an opportunity, I think we're having problems," Ramirez said.
The deadline for applicants interested in filling the District 7 position came and went Tuesday with 15 applicants -- none of whom were Latino.
"This is a very diverse county and we will make sure the board reflects that. You will see that in the coming school year, that we'll have that diversity," Baker said Tuesday.
Last week, Baker said he would reach out to expand the pool of Hispanics for county positions -- including the school board -- but says the process may take time.
"Our first job is to get qualified individuals to turn around our system. That is a priority. The second is to make it as diverse as possible," Baker said.