Nevada The New Latino Power Brokers
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the increasingly conservative business and professional classes in the Latino community emerged, and with them the Latino power broker. On the one hand the new political environment that evolved during the Nixon administration strengthened moderately conservative minority organizations such as the Nevada’s Latin Chamber of Commerce; on the other it weakened groups that used more confrontational methods to bring about change. The media and the public- and private-sector bureaucracies looked exclusively to middle-class Latinos to represent the community. Toward the end of the 1980s influence brokers came almost exclusively from the Latino middle class, and they were viewed by some as the natural channel for the allocation of patronage to other segments of the Latino community in Nevada.
The Changing Demograhics
In an analysis of 1990 census data for the 38 metropolitan areas with at least
50,000 Latino residents in the United States, the Latino population of these metropolitan areas accounted for 77 percent of the total Latino population in the country. Las Vegas, Nevada’s largest city, was ranked 38th in size of Latino population, with a Latino suburban population of 50,335. In terms of percentage of suburban residents who were Latino, Las Vegas ranked 24th out of the 38 metropolitan areas, with 10.5 percent. The suburbs of Las Vegas had the eighth fastest-growing Latino population in the United States, at 126.6 percent between 1980 and 1990.2
The major concentration of the state’s Latino population is in the southern part of Nevada, in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. Increasingly, as their economic condition improved, Latinos moved to the suburbs in Clark County. Thanks to open housing and more equitable employment practices that were the outcome of the civil rights movement, many Latinos in all age groups began moving into town houses and condominiums in Winchester and Paradise, as well as into the upscale single-family home developments stretching from Green Valley, in southeast Clark County, to the fashionable Lakes and Summerlin developments, in the northwest of the county.