LULAC in Marshalltown?

Latino-focused organization wants to establish a chapter in the community

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS LULAC state director Michael Reyes, center, met with several Latino community leaders and Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance at Fisher Community Center Friday to discuss the possibility of establishing a local organization council.

“I think it would be beneficial for you (Marshalltown) to have a LULAC.”

The idea of forming a League of United Latin American Citizens council in Marshalltown was the topic of a meeting held at Fisher Community Center Friday afternoon, and state director Michael Reyes said LULAC has a lot to offer Marshalltown, and vice versa.

“We are a civil rights organization, that’s what we were established for, but early on, our founders realized education was paramount,” Reyes said to a group of about a dozen local Latino community leaders, as well as Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance, adding the organization has a 60-year history in the state.

He said establishing a LULAC council in Marshalltown would be a way to connect existing committees and organizations with a national body of support without compromising autonomy.

What an individual council works on is up to them,” Reyes said. “The leadership comes from the community …National doesn’t tell us what to do.”

Tar Macias of the Spanish-language newspaper Hola Iowa has been a member of LULAC for seven years, and he advocated for the formation of a Marshalltown council.

“It directly helps students to further their education,” he said, adding the Marshalltown Education Partnership could benefit from further scholarship and funding opportunities a partnership with LULAC could provide.

Reyes stressed that LULAC is Latino-focused, but diversity is encouraged on councils and in individual organizations. He said many of Iowa’s 16 existing councils include non-Latino board members.

If Marshalltown were to establish a LULAC council, 10 initial members must apply for a charter and pay a total startup fee of $21 each as new members, which decreases to $15 per year after the first year.

If the charter is accepted, the members would hold an initial meeting to determine a long term president, secretary, treasurer, officers and other positions. The charter fee is $75 per year.

“From the Marshalltown Regional Partnership standpoint, one of our goals and objectives is to make sure we do a better job of finding ways to better engage and embrace our inclusive community,” said Regional Partnership CEO David Barajas, who expressed support for a Marshalltown council.

Others at the meeting, including Luis Meza of the Emerson Process Management-Fisher Controls human resources department and business owner Luisa Ortega named a few concerns if such a move took place.

Meza said he would want to see the LULAC council have a purpose, and wouldn’t support having one for the sake of having one. Ortega said it’s important that such a council not be affiliated or associated with any particular political party or group.

Reyes said LULAC, a 501(c)4 organization, does not align with any political party nor any political candidate per self-imposed rules.

Lowrance said a council would have to forge its own identity.

“You’re going to have to define yourself, or people are going to make up their own mind about what you are, what your purpose is, what you’re trying to accomplish,” he said, adding “I thought we had an excellent recommendation.”

Lowrance also said he was interested in getting more representation of all of the Marshalltown community.

“One thing I heard that really interested me was the leadership development,” he said. “There is a need for young people in Marshalltown, there is a need for representation from the Hispanic community, and we need somebody to help us find those individuals, the ones who are interested, and get them into volunteer organizations and city government.”

No decision was made at Friday’s meeting on whether to start the process of establishing a council, but it appears as though more meetings are forthcoming on the topic, and many present at the meeting expressed support for the idea.

For more information on LULAC in Iowa, go to www.lulaciowa.org