SALEM — The city is creating a new position of Latino affairs coordinator, in an effort to improve outreach and engagement with the city’s growing — and somewhat disconnected — Latino population.
The position, funded in the new fiscal year’s budget, will be part-time and will pay $15 per hour.
“The aim is to get information to and from Latino residents in an improved way,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “It’s more than getting the recycling calendar printed in Spanish and English. It’s about engaging (residents) around issues, and I think that doesn’t happen as well as it could.”
According to the job description, the coordinator will serve as a City Hall point of contact for Spanish-speaking residents; become a liaison to the Point Neighborhood Association and other Latino groups; provide Spanish translation for city departments, from meeting materials to website copy; and develop a long-term plan for Latino civic engagement.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported that 15.6 percent of Salem’s 41,000 residents are Latino or Hispanic, an increase over the 11.2 percent recorded in the 2000 census.
The coordinator’s job was posted on salem.com on Tuesday. Driscoll said she hopes to make a hire soon and have the job filled by the start of the school year. The coordinator will work out of the mayor’s office.
Driscoll noted that many cities have this type of position to engage immigrant and non-English speaking populations.
“We’re hoping this will build a bridge and fill in some gaps,” she said. “We have to be able to communicate with all members of our community — not just written and spoken word, but engagement. When that doesn’t occur, we see ourselves not doing as well as we can.”
The city budget for the coming fiscal year also added five full-time positions: two police officers, two firefighters and a building inspector. The budget was approved by the City Council June 27.