The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), which represents more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials, called on President Barack Obama to be inclusive—the organization wants at least two Latinos included in the Obama cabinet as the president enters his second term.
“We call on the president to ensure that his administration is fully reflective of the diversity of this great nation by appointing at least two Latinos to cabinet-level positions in his second term,” the group said in a statement. “We appreciate the president’s continued commitment to strengthening our democracy by fully engaging Latino voices and talents, and look forward to continuing to work with him and his cabinet members in the coming years.”
NALEO’s request comes after Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on Wednesday that he is resigning in March. Hilda Solis announced Jan. 9 that she too is stepping down from her position as secretary of labor. That leaves the Obama cabinet with no Latinos.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 30 Latino organizations, joined NALEO in calling on Obama to appoint Latinos to his second-term cabinet. In a letter the group sent to Obama on Wednesday, they asked the president to replace Salazar and Solis with two Latinos. They also called on Obama to “take a historic step and appoint three Hispanic members to the traditional cabinet, something no previous president has accomplished.”
NALEO: Plenty of Latinos to choose from for the Obama cabinet
Though NALEO isn’t recommending individuals to serve in Obama’s cabinet at this point, the group contends there is certainly a wealth of talented and experienced Latinos from whom the Obama administration could choose.
Some of those Latinos it noted include Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-California), who will serve as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will step down July 1 after serving two terms.
Villaraigosa is one of the Latinos rumored to join the Obama cabinet, possibly taking the Transportation Secretary position. Rumors began last year when Villaraigosa was asked to chair the Democratic National Convention as well as to serve as a co-chair of Obama’s reelection campaign.
Though Villaraigosa hasn’t indicated whether he has been offered to join the Obama cabinet, he has recently been spending some time in Washington, D.C. His most recent visit was on Monday. He was there to talk at the Press Club about immigration reform while also touting his accomplishments as mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa will be in the nation’s capital again on Jan. 21 to attend Obama’s inauguration.
NALEO calls for diversity in Obama cabinet
Obama has received criticism from several groups, including women’s rights groups, for nominating only white men to his new cabinet thus far. A coalition of people and groups, including NALEO, are now urging the president to appoint a diverse group to his cabinet.
During a press conference Monday, Obama addressed concerns about the lack of diversity, saying he is not finished filling the vacancies in his second-term cabinet.
“I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they’ve seen all my appointments—who is in the White House staff and who is in my cabinet—before they rush to judgment,” the president said.
There are still a number of cabinet positions that are up for grabs, including energy secretary, interior secretary and labor secretary.