Latinas in Politics: Meet the candidates running in Moline

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When it comes to politics, Latinos are not sitting on the sidelines anymore. They are more than some nameless and faceless “Voto Latino” campaign ad. More and more Latinos are running for office in their communities. Moline, IL has two strong Latina candidates working to improve their city. Mariela Treviño is running for Moline/Coal Valley District #40 School Board and Anna Castro is running for alderperson Ward 7 Moline City Council.

Treviño was born in San Antonio, TX, but grew up in the Floreciente Neighborhood in Moline, IL. “My dad, Guillermo Treviño, deceased, is from Saltillo, Coahuila, MX, and my mom, Maria Treviño, is from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, MX,” shares Treviño. “My dad passed away when I was 13, and we were a low-income household growing up. I went to all Moline public schools.” Treviño is a graduate of Moline High School and received her Associate of Arts degree from Black Hawk College. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from Western Illinois University, one master’s in Science degree in Applied Statistics and Decision Analytics, and a master’s certificate in Business Analytics from Western Illinois University.

Mariela Treviño is running for Moline/Coal Valley District #40 School Board.
Photo by Antonio Varela / Hola America

Aside from caring for her two children, this highly educated candidate keeps busy by giving back.

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“I am a Fiscal Director for a local non-profit that does senior services, and I oversee the accounting department. I currently serve on 3 boards – Illinois Migrant Council, LULAC Illinois, and the Floreciente Association. I have been a member of LULAC Moline Council #5285 for over 8 years. I am a vendor at Mercado on Fifth and sell rosaries. I am a volunteer tax preparer with United Way where I prepare income taxes for free for low-income families. I am a 4-gallon blood donor.”

Despite being so busy, Treviño still finds time for fun. She loves playing chess with the local Illowa Chess Club, traveling, and checking out new restaurants with her kids. But she’s ready to add campaign duties to her day. Treviño is one of 7 Moline/Coal Valley School Board candidates running to fill 4 seats.

“I decided to run for office because I love getting involved and helping out my community. Out of the 7 candidates, I am the only Latina running. In our school district, 1 in every 4 high school students is Hispanic. Over 46% of all students are minorities. The people making decisions for them should look like them. We currently have a good system for families to receive information and resources in their language from their schools individually, but it can use a little bit of help at the board level.” If she wins the election, Treviño will be the only board member who is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Treviño believes that this kaleidoscope of cultures and backgrounds requires a decision-maker who considers everyone’s point of view. She has no doubt that money management and keeping up with the budget are two very important points of focus. 

“If elected, I will ensure processes, procedures, and budgets are being sustained to improve financial stability in our public schools,” she said. “I know every decision comes with a cost and I want to ensure that each cost comes as a gain to all stakeholders. We need a financial perspective on our school board.” She is committed to making decisions that positively impact students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers.

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Like Mariela Treviño, Anna Castro, a candidate running for Moline City Council also grew up in the Floreciente neighborhood. “I was born and raised in the Floreciente neighborhood of Moline, the same as my father and grandfather. I graduated from Moline High School and received my bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Spanish from Augustana College.  After graduating, my husband Jose and I decided to raise our children and make our home in Moline. My husband is a teacher at Moline High School, and we have four children.”

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For the past 13 years, Castro has worked at the TRIO Student Support Services Office at Augustana College. “Our office provides support to students who are low-income, first-generation, and students with disabilities. This work really resonates with me because I was also a low-income, first-generation college student,” Castro explained.

Anna Castro is running for Ward 7 Alderperson of Moline City Council.
Photo by Antonio Varela / Hola America

Castro currently volunteers as treasurer on the board of the Moline Public Schools Foundation. This organization raises money and gives grants to Moline School District teachers. She is also a member of LULAC. When asked why she is running, Castro said, “I have always been interested in politics, and now that my children are older, I have more time to dedicate to working with the community.” When she learned that the current alderman Mike Waldron was not planning to run for reelection, she started to consider being a candidate herself. “I took the time to meet with Mr. Waldron and other members of the community to learn more about the role of an alderperson and the issues that are impacting our city.”

If elected, Castro plans to focus on revitalization of neighborhoods with things like clean housing, safe sidewalks and roads, and holding landlords responsible for unkempt properties. She wants to attract and support small businesses, including filling up empty storefronts to bring more restaurants and shops to make sure that tax dollars stay in Moline. Castro also wants to see more support and celebration of diversity in Moline by bringing more cultural events supported by the city, expanding the PRIDE festival, and taking better care of people with disabilities. “I also have a very strong interest in issues surrounding mental health and LGBTQ+ and will keep these issues on my mind when making any type of decisions for the city,” Castro added.

As it turns out, Ward 7 is the only contested race for alderperson in the city. “I think this is good. Citizens should have a choice about who is going to represent them, and I hope that I am their choice,” said Castro. She believes that her strong ties to the community and the city of Moline make her a great candidate for Moline City Council. “I have knowledge of Moline’s past and will work to improve our future. From my work, I have experience in strategic planning, budgeting, fundraising, community outreach, and working with a diverse community of individuals.  As an alderperson, I will bring this experience to the city council.” 

So far, Castro has received endorsements from AFSCME – the union that represents Moline’s city workers, The Quad City Federation of Labor, and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 25.

Local elections are Tuesday, April 4. Mariela Treviño is running for Moline/Coal Valley School Board District #40, and Anna Castro is running for alderperson Ward 7 Moline City Council.

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