Citizen of the Year Luna picked to replace Higgins on Mesa Council - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Citizen of the Year Luna picked to replace Higgins on Mesa Council

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:15 pm

After chopping the list from 21 to four, the Mesa City Council completed what Mayor Scott Smith called a “rewarding and very, very frustrating process” by selecting David Luna as District 5’s new representative.

The council approved the decision to appoint Luna to the seat that previously belonged to Dina Higgins in a 6-0 vote on Sept. 12. Higgins resigned from the council in August citing work and travel issues related to her full-time job.

After the vote, the 57-year-old Luna said he was “extremely surprised” by the council’s decision, and said he looks forward to working with his fellow councilmembers.

“Fortunately, I know a lot of them; I’ve worked with them with a lot of community projects,” he said.

Luna’s selection to serve the remaining 16 months of Higgins’ term — the term ends in January 2015 — concluded a process that saw 21 people initially apply for the position. That original list was then trimmed to 17 — Smith said four of the candidates did not live in District 5 — and then to four finalists: Luna, Debra Duvall, Kathleen Rahn and Kevin Ruegg.

Picking from the final four proved to be a difficult process for the council, as Smith and the other members of the council lauded all four candidates for their qualifications. Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh called the finalists a “stellar group of candidates,” while Smith said choosing from the four was both rewarding and frustrating because of the quality of the candidates.

“I would like the voters of District 5 to have the same difficult job we had,” Councilmember Scott Somers said.

The man they selected is a 25 year resident of Mesa who currently works as the director of educational television for Mesa Public Schools and teachers communications at Mesa Community College. Luna has served in the community as a volunteer for multiple organizations like the United Way, the Mesa Senior Center and the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens, and was a member of the city’s Day Labor Task Force in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. His involvement in the community was one of the reasons he was named Mesa’s Citizen of the Year in 2012.

Now that he’s on the council, Luna said his first step is to learn more about the issues that affect his new district, and he said plans to bring issues related to Mesa’s Hispanic community to the council at large.

“We are a diverse community; there are many, many different groups in the city of Mesa,” he said.

He also said his experience volunteering with multiple organizations that encompass topics ranging from hunger to domestic violence provides experience with those issues and knowledge of how to operate organizations within a tight budget.

Prior to applying for the opening, Luna said he had “never thought or considered running for District 5,” but he said a number of people recommended he apply for the vacancy. For the long term, he said he is still not sure if he will run for the District 5 seat during the 2014 election.

A formal swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for the Sept. 23 council meeting, although Luna was sworn into office on Thursday.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com

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