Minnesota’s first Latina mayor is not going to search reelection

CATHY WURZER: Town of Richfield is searching for a brand new mayor. Its present chief, Maria Regan Gonzalez, is Minnesota’s first Latina mayor and youngest mayor Richfield has had. And she or he’s stepping apart. Earlier than she leaves workplace, we thought we would meet up with Mayor Gonzalez. Welcome to Minnesota Now.

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Thanks a lot. Are you able to hear me?

CATHY WURZER: I can. Thanks very a lot. You sound nice. Say, it sounds as if you are making some life adjustments and you have got one other large job to do. So discuss your resolution to step down as mayor.

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Completely. Effectively, I by no means thought I might be in elected workplace. It was by no means one thing that had crossed my thoughts. However then as I began to be taught slightly bit extra in regards to the affect you may make in your personal neighborhood to make enhancements for well being and connectivity, I made a decision I need to run for workplace.

However I knew that was not my aspiration to remain and be in politics. And so I am able to proceed that journey in making a distinction in my neighborhood in a method that permits me to have area to have a household, to get married, to have children, and serve my neighborhood as properly. And when you’re in elected workplace on the native stage, these are part-time stipend positions. However in actuality, the function of mayor is 24/7. And so sustaining a full-time job, having a household, and being in elected workplace simply actually turns into close to inconceivable.

CATHY WURZER: So you are going to attempt to have work-life balance– good for you.


CATHY WURZER: Yeah. Say, once you made the choice to run for mayor, was there ever a time once you thought, what have I accomplished?

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Completely, all the time. And I might say generally I believe it is good that you do not know what you are getting your self into, as a result of perhaps you won’t have made the choice to do it. And I am very grateful for my time as mayor. I believe we have been in a position to make transformational and generational change that advances fairness within the metropolis of Richfield and has modeled that for different cities. However undoubtedly, I really feel like I obtained a PhD in human relations previously few years.

CATHY WURZER: I can solely think about. Michael Nutter, he was the previous mayor of Philadelphia, as soon as mentioned that being a mayor is the most effective job in politics. He figured you will get issues accomplished. You can also make issues happen– even when it is simply getting the streets plowed quick, which is a key job right here in Minnesota. So sounds such as you agree with him.

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Completely. I really like the function of mayor. I might like to be a mayor and a mother. And the actual fact is that if I am not retired, I am not independently rich, I must have a full-time job. And that is simply not attainable.

However being a mayor is totally the most effective job. It is the closest stage of presidency to the folks. We’re actually within the grocery retailer. Folks can inform me what they suppose and what must be modified. And plenty of occasions, we are able to make these adjustments instantly. And also you’re affecting the issues that have an effect on the standard of life for everyone– the day-to-day issues that matter like water, do you are feeling secure and linked in your neighborhood, do you will have entry to inexperienced area and nice housing. That is what we get to work on each single day as mayors.

CATHY WURZER: What is the hardest a part of the job?

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: The hardest a part of the job. To be trustworthy, I name it the Obama impact. However when Obama grew to become president, there was this pondering of, oh my gosh, all structural racism is gone. Now we have a Black man in workplace as president. And other people feeling slightly little bit of that Obama impact, there’s one particular person on this function as mayor, and meaning all of this lengthy historical past of structural racism and inequities are going to go away– and folks actually having these outrageous expectations on one particular person, however not desirous to take accountability and possession.

All of us have a task in addressing these points. And it is not simply on the mayor. It is not simply on one piece of our neighborhood. All of us need to contribute. And other people actually pondering, in some methods, that is your job, you bought to do it, and why did you not repair this years and generations of structural inequities since you grew to become mayor?

CATHY WURZER: Do you do you suppose you made not less than some little little bit of an inroad towards attempting to rectify a number of the inequities in Richfield?

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Completely. I really suppose we now have made super influence. So we now have embedded fairness as a core consideration to all of our work throughout the entire metropolis of Richfield. Now we have our workers taking a look at what does that imply in each stage of what they do.

We have been in a position to work with tenants to safe reasonably priced housing and preserve reasonably priced housing in Richfield. Our inclusionary housing coverage just isn’t solely centered on reasonably priced housing, nevertheless it’s additionally centered on accessible housing for folks with disabilities. There’s not many inclusionary housing insurance policies which have that focus.

We labored with tenants and MNDOT to say, we’d like a pedestrian bridge to attach a few of our reasonably priced housing neighborhoods to the direct supply of pharmacy and grocery with a pedestrian bridge over the freeway. And so I really feel like I have not made slightly influence, we collectively in Richfield have made super quantities of generational enhancements to concretely enhance the lives of all of our residents. And I am very pleased with that.

CATHY WURZER: So then I am curious, Mayor Gonzalez– on the state stage, and perhaps due to the place you sit you might need some fascinating issues to say about this– Senator Patricia Torres Ray, Consultant Carlos Mariamne, they’re retiring– gosh, DFL Senate Caucus Chief Melissa Lopez Frandsen is stepping down due to redistricting points.

I believe there’s just one Latina operating for a seat within the Minnesota Home. So I am curious– what’s the way forward for Latino political engagement in Minnesota?

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Yeah. And I’ve linked with all of these, and they’re all mentors and mates of mine. And it’s laborious to see plenty of us retiring on the identical time. And so they have all had for much longer years of political service.

I’ll say we now have a big group of neighborhood members that’s rising of their political engagement and their advocacy. Now we have folks in different metropolis councils, Latinas like in Shakopee and different areas, which are operating in are in positions at the moment. And so there may be plenty of curiosity.

And we now have the biggest rising constituency base of voters and new voters, and plenty of political and social energy within the Latino neighborhood in Minnesota. And there is plenty of curiosity and engagement. And even in the event you take a look at Richfield, 40% of our college students are Latino college students. You take a look at cities like Wilmer, and Worthington, and cities in higher Minnesota, you see Latinos fueling the rebirth of their downtown districts, of their faculties.

And so our affect and our capacity to make a change in our neighborhood is rising. And, whereas there’s 4 of us retiring, we do have a robust bench of oldsters which are very politically engaged and are getting extra of our residents and our neighborhood members engaged within the political course of.

CATHY WURZER: Do you suppose you will come again into the political course of when you perhaps get out of it for slightly bit, chill out, have a little bit of a life, have a household, after which may you return?

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Effectively, I’ll all the time be connected– and within the sense of one in all my largest passions is supporting and mentoring different younger girls of coloration to personal their management. And so whether or not that has been supporting folks to be candidates politically, begin their very own nonprofits and organizations– that’s one thing that I am all the time going to do. Future pursuits in being a candidate once more, perhaps.

I’ll say as a mayor, I get to be nonpartisan and I completely love that. I get to place the neighborhood first above a political platform. And that is what I like to do– put neighborhood above partisan politics.

And so I can take part in so many alternative methods. So I’ll all the time be engaged on advancing neighborhood first. And we’ll see all of the totally different ways in which seems to be like. Operating for increased office– I do not know. We’ll see.

CATHY WURZER: All proper. It is OK. I respect your time. Thanks. I want you all the most effective. And thanks for what you have accomplished for Richfield.

MARIA REGAN GONZALEZ: Completely. Thanks a lot for this chance.

CATHY WURZER: Maria Regan Gonzalez is the mayor of Richfield.

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