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Much to the delight of local residents, Jimmy Smits of NYPD Blue fame was the honored guest at a political rally last week. Several hundred people attended the gathering at the Mi Ranchito restaurant, which was sponsored by the Justice Party.

Smits came to boost participation in the local political process. In particular, he urged members of the Latino community to participate in the upcoming village elections - to make their voices heard and their votes count. He said, "It is very important that the Latinos get out the vote. They need to understand that these issues directly affect them." Jonathan Davis, Justice Party candidate for trustee, echoed those sentiments. "It is ridiculous that the Latino community has been left out," he said. "They work hard and produce for America. I don't know why we are not united as one community."

Smits supported the candidacy of Davis, Linda Palazotto, and Tom Panullo, who are running for trustee and mayor, respectively. He said that they have been "very supportive of environmental issues." He added that Davis has been very involved with helping the minority community. In particular, he mentioned Davis's involvement with the Word of Life Ministries in Freeport, a program in which Smits' cousin, who was also in attendance, is very active.

For three hours Smits shook hands, signed autographs on everything from napkins to T-shirts and skateboards, and engaged in conversation with members of the community, who marveled at how accessible and unassuming he was. "He's so gracious," said one attendee. Another commented, "his mild manners only add to his charm." "He's just a regular guy," said another guest.

The ambience contributed greatly to the success of the evening. A talented mariachi group serenaded the guests while they enjoyed a bountiful spread of delicious hors d'oeuvres.

Smits is clearly proud of his Brooklyn and his Puerto Rican heritage. Among his recent motion picture credits are Star Wars: Episode II, Million Dollar Hotel, Price of Glory, and Bless the Child. In addition to NYPD Blue, Smits also had a major role in the popular TV Series LA Law. He was nominated for an Emmy award for every year he was on television, winning it in 1990. He also has won a Golden Globe award. He has appeared often with the New York Shakespeare Festival, currently playing the role of Orsino in Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, which he said fulfilled a long-held dream of doing comedy.

Smits is justifiably well-known and admired for his good looks and acting ability, but what most captivated those who met him was the beauty and compassion within.


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