A recent study revealed the issue Latinos in Colorado care about the most this election season is education, specifically access to high-quality PK-12 education.

The study, which was carried out by Mi Casa Resource Center and Colorado Latino Leadership, Research & Advocacy Organization (CLLARO), surveyed 582 people who identified themselves as either Latino or Hispanic.

Christine Marquez-Hudson, executive director of Mi Casa Resource Center, said they decided to do the study because Denver's presidential debate would create the perfect timing for Latino's voices to be heard.

"We wanted to make sure that the voice of those Latinos was heard as part of this debate," she said.

"People are saying that Latinos may decide the outcome of this state's elections, but people are making a lot of assumptions about what Colorado Latinos care about."

Olivia Mendoza, executive director for CLLARO, said organizations like hers had the responsibility to serve the community as well as be conduits to voice the true concerns of Colorado Latinos .

"There is a lot of surveys and a lot of data out there, but it doesn't come from the Colorado-based Latino organizations," she said.

Mendoza said they were not surprised by the results of the study even though, against what most would assume, the economy and jobs came in second, followed by healthcare and in fourth place immigration.

Respondents were mostly third generation Latinos, about 51 percent, meaning immigration may not affect them directly.

"I think that (immigration) is often used as a source to separate the Latino community of issues that we care about of larger dialogue," Mendoza said. "At the end of the day those of us who work and live in this community know that there are three things that we will always need: jobs, health care and education."
The issue of least concern was social support, such as social security and Medicare.

Of the respondents 71 percent identified as Democrats and an overwhelming 91 percent were registered voters.

In the case of the economy, respondents said their top priority was to have more available training and assistance to the unemployed. In the case of health care most agreed in preserving the Affordable Health
Care Act and others said it should be preserved but with some kind of reform.

The survey offered the opportunity for participants to write down a question they would like the candidates to answer. This section revealed the participants' frustration with the lack of specificity in the election and a particular worry for the political gridlock in Washington.

"I really felt a sense of frustration from the respondents saying 'We don't want propaganda, we don't want this to be about an election, can you give me specifics about what would you do?'" Mendoza said.

One of the question suggested said: "Do you think it's possible to change the current polarization of politics and pursue bipartisan policies to achieve results that will benefit the majority? Are you willing to govern to this end, even if at a cost to your political career?"

Both Mendoza and Marquez-Hudson said they look forward to continuing using the study to raise awareness about the concerns of Latinos and to determine how their own organizations can provide better services.