MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The first Latina Mayor in Minnesota is officially in office. and she says she’s ready to roll.
It’s a city known for it’s convenient location, now, Richfield is known for making history. Surrounded by family and supporters – Maria Regan Gonzalez became the state’s first Latina mayor.
“I would say it really hit me at the swearing-in because there were so many people there excited for that moment,” said Gonzalez.
And the excitement is bubbling around town – at the local grocery store.
“I think that’s very good, that’s really good and I want to say Congratulations to Maria,” said Elsiel Rivera.
The owner at Local Roots cafe’s excited, too.
“As a woman and a small business owner, it’s just awesome. We’re just so excited for her,” said Courtney Norgaard.
That’s where we sat down with the new Mayor, a Wisconsin native whose Dad is from Mora and Mom is from Mexico.
“Growing up constantly traveling between Minnesota and Mexico was just really interesting,” explained Gonzalez. “I think as a kid I felt a little left out, I felt I wasn’t a strong part of either culture, but as I grew older, I realized, wow, what an asset to be from two different cultures.”
She says she plans to leverage her background for growth and inclusion in the town she’s decided to settle in — a town where 20 percent of the residents are Latino.
“I’m breaking a barrier and contributing some part in history to say you know what now we don’t have to have as many firsts,” said Gonzalez. “We’re breaking those barriers.”
Mayor Gonzalez says she believes she’s part of a bigger picture, “ I’m a part of a movement nationally which is new type of leadership.”
And now that she’s made history – she plans to build a future.
“Some people ask are you scared Are you nervous? But every day I get more excited,” said Gonzalez.
The Mayor says one of her goals is that amidst all this development that the people who want to live and stay in Richfield longterm will not be displaced.