Elgin City Council diversity

Community impact: reading this story motivated at least one school board candidate to run in the 2013 race for four seats.  

Not one Latino among 23 Elgin council candidates
By Tara Garcia Mathewson

Jane Barbosa

Jane Barbosa is hopeful about the political potential within Elgin’s Latino community, although not a single Latino joined 23 candidates filing for five open city council seats for the April 2013 election. Barbosa worked with a group of other residents to find potential candidates within the Latino community. Photo by Rick West.

When the roster of Elgin City Council candidates recently was finalized, leaders in the Latino community found themselves not only disappointed but surprised, frustrated, even exasperated.

Out of 23 candidates, not a single Latino will be running for five open seats — including two entirely new positions required because of population growth.

Elgin is 43.6 percent Latino. Many in the city, Latinos and others, looked to this election as a chance to get more diversity on the council because of those new seats.

The 2010 census confirmed that white Elginites were no longer the majority, with 42.6 percent of the city’s population. But now, with candidate filing closed, the community is looking at the prospect of at least two more years without a Latino representative on the council.

Jane Barbosa, a longtime Elgin resident and member of the Latino community, was part of a group of residents meeting throughout the past year to find promising Latino candidates. Even though no candidates emerged, Barbosa still is hopeful.

“I think there’s a lot of promise for leadership in the future,” Barbosa said.

She expects a shift to happen in the next five years, when people who are focusing on their families and their professional careers reach a point where they have time for the extra commitment. Barbosa said her search has brought her into contact with people who would be great on the council but who did not think they had the time to serve.

“It’s telling me people are interested; however, they don’t want to just go in there and warm up a seat,” Barbosa said. “They really want to go in there and give of themselves and make a serious commitment.”

Read the full article here.

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