HELO Focuses on Strengthening Policy Efforts at Meeting

Article excerpt

Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) focused on strengthening the group's policy efforts and stature during a recent meeting.

Led by HELO President Liberato "Libby" Silva, vice mayor, Flagstaff, N.M., HELO members convened their annual Summer Board of Directors Meeting in conjunction with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

NLC President Anthony A. Williams, mayor of Washington, D.C., was a keynote speaker at the NALEO conference and was also present at the HELO Board meeting.

He briefed HELO and NALEO members on NLC policy issues, including No Child Left Behind, transportation and eminent domain, which recently reached the Supreme Court and resulted in a victory for cities across America.

Williams also lauded HELO's leadership and reaffirmed his support of NLC constituency groups.

"I salute your leadership within National League of Cities. NLC is committed to strengthening the relationship between NLC and HELO," said Williams. "We value constituency groups and we recognize that they play a vital role in increasing membership within NLC, so I thank you, HELO, for strengthening an indispensable relationship."

"I think HELO has made great progress as it relates to the National League of Cities and I thank Mayor Williams for that. He heard, loud and clear, our challenges in getting Latino representation on the NLC Board," said Carol Alvarado mayor pro tern Houston, Tex. "HELO really stepped up to that plate. But, we still have more work ahead of us and I don't want to stop now."

The NALEO conference convenes one of the largest gatherings of Hispanic elected and appointed officials and consists of various workshops and public policy priorities along with briefings and issues forums on a variety of issues in the Hispanic community such as: Early Childhood Education; Obesity; The Latino Vote in 2004; No Child Left Behind; The Latino Elderly; healthcare; financial literacy; and sessions on Puerto Rico's history, economic factors, and the Puerto Rico-U.S. relationship.

For the past 10 years, HELO has held its Board meetings in conjunction with NALEO's Annual Summer Conference. Each year, the HELO President is allotted a seat on the NALEO Board of Advisors.

Silva, HELO First Vice President Joe Maestas, councilmember, Espanola, N.M., Carol Alvarado, mayor pro tern, Houston, Tex., and Andres Ayala, councilmember, Bridgeport, Conn. sit on the NALEO Board of Advisors. HELO Past President John Bueno, council president pro tem, Pontiac, Mich., is serving his second term as president of NALEO.

NALEO staff members Marcelo Gaete, senior director, programs, Los Angeles, Jose Carillo, director, constituency services, Los Angeles, and Larry Gonzalez, director, Washington, D. …