Elvis Jocol Lara’s work for El Mundo Boston allowed him to see huge amounts of young, talented Latinos across Massachusetts. But the more he saw, the more he noticed that those individuals were severely underrepresented in traditional media spaces.

“General market media was not really highlighting these folks. ... So rather than, you know, complain about it, what we said is we're going to honor our folks and we're going to do it our way,” Lara said on Boston Public Radio.

This is how El Mundo’s Latino 30 under 30 was born. Now in its fifth year, the news outlet uses the list and event to celebrate 30 young Latinos with ties to Massachusetts who excel in politics, advocacy, the arts and more. The goal is to “highlight the growing and invaluable impact of the Latino community in Boston, the commonwealth and world,” according to El Mundo's website.

One of the honorees this year is Delmarina López, a recently elected city councilor in Chicopee and the first person of color elected to a municipal seat in the city. Although she feels excited to have broken this barrier, she can’t help but reflect on the steadily increasing Latino influence in Massachusetts and wonder: What took so long?

“The responsibility that I feel as a Latino elected is part of it is pride that finally we have representation. But also, in 2022 it's absurd that we are at this place that I'm still the only [one],” she said.

“It is a shame that for so many years, especially in a city that has such a growing population of Latinos, a growth that is very evident,” she continued. “You can see it in the graduating classes from our schools ... and in who works in the city, who owns homes in the city. The growth is evident, but the representation has just never been there.”

She also emphasized the particular necessity of increasing Latino representation in government as their population continues to grow across the state.

“If our population dynamics are changing, the demographics are changing, then why are the people who are making the decisions not changing?” she said.

With midterms coming up, López spoke about the potential for Latino voters in upcoming elections, saying that the most important thing to do is mobilize unregistered or non-voters.

“If we focus on the folks who are not registered or who have not voted for X number of elections, and we mobilize them and also educate them on what their vote means, how important their vote is, and what exactly is on the line, then I think we will solve the problem,” she said.

And she understands the importance of this strategy firsthand. After being the sole candidate on the primary ballot for her race, after the other three other candidates had to drop out, she found herself able to shift her concern from winning an election and focus her efforts on turning out the vote in a unique way.

“I didn't have to think about ‘Am I knocking on a door that's going to get me a vote?’ I literally walked around with voter registration forms and knocked, and that changed how I was able to engage with people. … I would sit outside on a lawn chair that they would offer me and talk to a group … It didn't matter whether I got that vote. It mattered that they were now going to engage in democracy.”

The Latino 30 Under 30 will be announced at their Boston event on Nov. 5. Buy tickets here.