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There are more Latino elected officials in Iowa than ever before

Some members of the Latino Political Network (Barron is top right) posed for a photo at a networking event pre-pandemic.
Latino Political Network
Some members of the Latino Political Network (Barron is top right) posed for a photo at a networking event pre-pandemic.

Iowa now has more Latino and Hispanic elected officials now than ever before.

The Latino Political Network (LPN) estimated 13 Latino or Hispanic candidates won last Tuesday’s elections for local offices across the state. And according to LPN, when these newly elected candidates take office, it will be a record-setting class of Latino elected officials.

"This is a big step forward for our state. This isn't just about the Latino community, this is about our state having better representation among an increasingly diverse state in positions of leadership," LPN founder Rob Barron said.

To calculate a thorough list of all elected officials who identify as Hispanic or Latino, Barron spends hours at a time looking for and verifying new names to include on the list. He admitted most of his nights and weekends are devoted to LPN's list.

Barron, who recently stepped down from his role on the Des Moines School Board, said the record-number of Latinos in office is encouraging for everyone in Iowa.

"We're all better off when we see a range of different perspectives represented in local government, state government. And this is a sign that we're going in the right direction," he said.

Barron said there could be other possible Latino elected officials not included in the recently released list, but they still need to be verified. He estimated a total of 27 elected officials statewide identify as Hispanic or Latino—which he said is likely the most in Iowa history.

"I think folks are all always excited to know that they're part of something bigger than just themselves or their city council or their school board. You know, this is an opportunity for folks to see that. They're part of a community that goes statewide," he said.

The next steps include building a statewide community between all of the elected Latino officials, Barron said. In the past, LPN offered an Iowa networking event, but the past few years have been canceled due to the pandemic. He said there's so much experienced officials can offer to the newly elected ones.

LPN noted West Liberty is now the only municipality in Iowa to have a majority Latino city council. It’s also known as the first city in the state to be majority Latino or Hispanic.

Perla Alarcon-Flory, recently elected into her third term on the Sioux City Community School Board, explained in the press release she is proud to be the first recorded Latino elected to public office in Woodbury County: "I am grateful to have been elected for the 3rd time, and convinced that our work changes lives and impacts generations, I am ready to continue working!!"

It's people like Alarcon-Flory that LPN wish to inspire and motivate newer elected officials. People like Maria Alonzo-Diaz who was elected to take Barron's former position on the Des Moines School Board.

"Voice and representation is what this is all about," Alonzo-Diaz said in the release, "I am looking forward to reframing education while maintaining the vision and values of the people we serve.”

Here is LPN's list so far of the newly elected Latino officials on Nov. 2:

Perla Alarcon-Flory, Sioux City School Board (re-elected)
Maria Alonzo-Diaz, Des Moines School Board
Anadelia Morgan, West Des Moines School Board
Dana Dominguez, West Liberty City Council
Omar Martinez, West Liberty City Council
Eddie Diaz, Perry School Board
Jessica Garcia, Denison City Council (re-elected)
Karina Hernandez, Marshalltown School Board (re-elected)
Lillyan Rodriquez, Sergeant Bluff Community Schools Board of Education
Robert Ortiz, Davenport City Council
Ed Moreno, West Liberty School Board
Rebecca Vargas, West Liberty School Board
Amici Valdez Hayek, Nevada School Board

Barron urged anyone left off the list who belong on it, should reach out on LPN's Facebook page or Barron himself. Already, Amici Valdez Hayek, on the Nevada Community School Board, contacted him to be included on the list—which is exactly what Barron hoped for.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines