Q&A with HELO President David Luna

September 18, 2020 - (5 min read)
This week marks the beginning of Hispanic/Latinx History Month, a month that celebrates the independence of many Latin American countries and the history, culture and achievements of Latinos and Afro-Latinos. In this unprecedented year, many communities including Latinos are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with grave economic and health outcomes.
As cities and towns face these challenges and work diligently to serve their constituents, NLC is committed to supporting local leaders through diverse coalitions such as the constituency groups and solutions that are centered on equity. Councilmember David Luna is an active constituency group member and is currently serving as the president of the NLC’s Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO).

The first Hispanic to serve on the Mesa City Council, David Luna was appointed to fill the vacant District 5 seat in September of 2013 before winning the election for a full term in August of 2014. He was named the Vice Mayor on January 23, 2017, and served in that role until January 28, 2019. Luna was re-elected to a second term representing District 5 in August of 2018.  His second term on the Mesa City Council runs until January of 2023. 

Councilmember Luna is an active member of numerous boards and committees not only locally, but nationwide. He has been an active member of the National League of Cities since taking office. He currently serves on the NLC Board of Directors and is also the President of the NLC Hispanic Elected Local Officials Board of Directors. He spent four terms on the NLC Information Technology and Communication Committee, including chairing the committee in 2017 after serving as Vice-Chair in 2016. Locally, Luna is the chair of the Mesa Community College at Red Mountain Community Advisory Committee, the chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Economic Development Committee and was the past chair of the City of Mesa Human Relation Advisory Board. 

Luna spent more than 30 years working for Mesa Public Schools, including 27 years as the Director of Education Television for Mesa Public Schools, directing and managing channel 99 and edtv99.org. He retired from MPS in 2017. He also spent time as an adjunct professor for both Arizona State University and Mesa Community College. 

Luna has also been recognized for his community involvement with numerous awards, including the Mesa United Way Volunteer of the Year Award in 2006, the City of Mesa National Emergency Preparedness Recognition in 2007, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Society, the NAACP East Valley Chapter Humanitarian Award in 2008, Arizona Hispanic School Administration’s Outstanding Administrator Award in 2008, the Valle del Sol Hall of Fame Award in 2011 and the Mesa United Way Spirit of Mesa Award in 2012. He was also named the City of Mesa’s Citizen of the Year in 2012. 

Luna began his career in broadcasting in Tucson, working as a camera operator and floor director for KVOA Channel 4 and with the Tucson Unified School District as a video/media specialist before joining Mesa Public Schools. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Radio/Television from the University of Arizona in 1979, a Master of Mass Communication from Arizona State University in 1999 and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2012. He is also a 2002 graduate of the Mesa Leadership Training and Development program. 

David is married to Hilda Luna and they have two adult daughters, Melina Smith and Marissa Luna, along with two grandchildren, Sophia and Henry Smith. 


QUESTION 1: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what lead you to public service? 

I felt it incumbent of me to seek political office based on my experience as an educator as well as a community member. This has offered me the opportunity to serve Mesa effectively in developing public policy. 

QUESTION 2: How is Mesa, Arizona honoring Hispanic Heritage Month this year? (either at the city level or examples from local organizations). 

The City of Mesa Council and the Mayor issued a proclamation recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month in Mesa. Councilmember Heredia and I read the proclamation into the record. Furthermore, we invited the Chair of the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens to speak at the meeting about the significance of the proclamation and Hispanic Heritage Month in our community. 

QUESTION 3: Tell us about the Latino community in Mesa, AZ? In what ways have you used your position on the council to help serve this community? 

One in four Mesa residents are now Latino (up from one in 10 in 1990) and the city’s demographics are trending towards a Latino majority. The Mesa School District has the second largest population of Latinos and Latino-owned businesses in Mesa have grown over the years. 

Being the first elected Latino in the City of Mesa has given me the opportunity to mentor young individuals and inspire them to seek public office. A person of color in my position provides those who may need assurances that they can reach their ultimate dreams.  

Being bilingual allows me to speak directly to my community but it also helps in understanding the cultural nuances when reaching out to the Latino community. This has been critically important this year as the City of Mesa has worked to provide COVID-19 information to all residents. 

QUESTION 4: How do you think local elected officials can better serve Latino constituents? 

Local officials are the first face of government to many of our Latino constituents. Because I am Latino, I am often sought for advice as well as guidance for working with City government.  

QUESTION 5: Anything else you would like to add about this historic month? 

Having a month to acknowledge Latinx/Hispanic contribution is significant, particularly to the larger community. This is an opportunity to showcase and recognize our important and diverse contributions in the American society.