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Hispanic Heritage Week 2013: Some Credit Bloomberg For Pols Becoming Conversant With Spanish

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It may come as no surprise that politicians are courting the Latino vote, as Hispanics represent one of the city's fastest-growing demographic groups, but increasingly, the candidates themselves are becoming conversant with Spanish to better connect with voters, a trend some credit to the current mayor. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

For years, it’s been a routine part of City Hall press conferences: Mayor Michael Bloomberg will say, "Before taking questions, let me summarize for our Spanish-speaking New Yorkers."

Bloomberg may now be leaving office, but the Spanish translations are here to stay.

Democrat Bill de Blasio, who honed his Spanish during his now-well-documented time in Nicaragua, has already begun the practice.

"Nuestra intención era de salvar este hospital," de Blasio said at a press conference last month.

According to the 2010 census, there are now more than 2.3 million Hispanics in New York City and growing. That's nearly 29 percent of the population, and it's a voting bloc not to be ignored.

"People appreciate it, said Frankie Miranda, executive vice president of the Hispanic Federation.

The Hispanic Federation recently released a report on Latino issues targeted toward political candidates. Miranda said that Hispanic voters notice when candidates make a real effort at Spanish.

"It has to go beyond the good mornings and goodbyes," Miranda said. "They have to articulate at least thoughts, complete sentences."

Spanish could often be heard during primary season at debates, and even in ads.

Republican Joseph Lhota just launched his first TV ad in both English and Spanish, but said that as mayor, he'd enlist a translator at news conferences.

"Yes, I am working on my Spanish, and I'm refreshing myself since I used to be able to speak Spanish, and I'm very worried currently about mangling such a beautiful language, and the verb endings in particular," he said.

Spanish comes naturally to Independence Party candidate and native speaker Adolfo Carrion, who's of Puerto Rican descent.

Another third-party candidate, Jack Hidary, is half-Colombian.

Whoever prevails in the race, credit Bloomberg for setting a standard.

"Now, people are used to it," Miranda said. "Now, people are expecting it."

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