HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A key factor in Hazleton’s mayoral race is the Latino vote. Latinos make up a large portion of the city’s population.

Latinos are in the majority in Hazleton. They have been for the past several years, but they have not turned out to vote. That could change this year and some political observers say the Latino vote could be the deciding factor in the race for mayor.

People cast their vote Tuesday at the South Side Fire Station, the largest polling place in the city of Hazleton. But polling places have not seen large numbers of Latinos but that is slowly changing. So says Niurka DelaRosa who moved to Hazleton 13 years ago.

“Now they know they have to get out to vote because we need more representation here in Hazleton City because we have the majority here now,” DelaRosa said.

Victor Perez is president of the Dominican House, an agency that helps Latinos transition into their new community.

“Hazleton has to understand we have diverse communities here. The vote today can be decided by the Latino vote one side or another. The winner receives support of Latino vote,” Perez said.

Amilcar Arroyo is the publisher of the Spanish Language newspaper in Hazleton.

“I have seen the candidates working hard to push to bring the Hispanic people to vote,” Arroyo said.

But he says it will take time.

“It will take probably about a generation to understand the system and to be familiar with the candidates. That’s the most important part. Many are not known by the community,” Arroyo said.