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Hispanic voters in Tampa say the cost of living is a top issue in the midterm election

2022 midterm election Hispanic Democrat Caucus
Gabriella Paul
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WUSF Public Media
Hispanic Democratic voters gather in a parking lot near Egypt Lake-Leto to organize a caravana -- a parade-like tradition that originated in Puerto Rico -- to mobilize voters in support of candidates on the Democratic ticket.

Prices of everyday goods have climbed more than 10% in the greater Tampa Bay region, according to Consumer Price Index data.

Ahead of November's midterm election, Pew Research Center estimates that the national Hispanic eligible voter population will exceed 34.5 million.

In Florida, the number of registered Hispanic voters has climbed to 2.6 million — an increase of more than 100,000 since 2020 — according to book closing data published by the Florida Division of Elections.

Bethzaida Olivera lives in Tampa with her daughter, Esmeralda, but she was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She immigrated to Florida in 2016 in search of economic opportunity.

She said climate change and public education curriculum are important voting issues to her.

Bethzaida Olivera midterm election Gabriella Paul
Bethzaida Olivera
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Courtesy
Bethzaida Olivera and her daughter, Esmeralda Patterson, enjoy a trip to Disney Springs in July of 2022.

This year, Olivera said voting for local and state officials who can help relieve the rising cost of living is a top priority, too.

"Money is tight because everything is going up," Olivera said. "The inflation here in Tampa is ridiculous."

Prices of everyday goods have climbed more than 10% over the past 12 months in the greater Tampa Bay region, according to Consumer Price Index data released in October.

Eight in 10 Hispanic registered voters, including both Democrats and Republicans, said the economy is a top voting issue for them this year, according to a survey published by the Pew Research Center.

Lizandra Salazar, who is a cancer survivor, joins another three-quarters of Latinx voters who said health care will impact their vote in the midterm elections. Uninsured patients can face exorbitant treatment and drug costs.

"If I'm part of the solution by voting, that means the whole world to me," Salazar said.

Lydia Medrano, who serves as a district director in Tampa for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said affordable housing, health care costs and immigration policy are top of mind for the Latinx community.

Now retired, she volunteers with LULAC to help lessen the barriers to voting.

On Saturday, she joined a caravana, a parade-like campaigning event that originated in Puerto Rico, hosted by the Hillsborough County Hispanic Democratic Caucus.

Voters gathered in a parking lot near West Tampa where they decorated their cars with American and Puerto Rican flags, played Latin music from a PA system and set off on a one-hour route that stopped at two early voting sites.

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.