After living and working in Ogden for the last 18 years, Luis Lopez has grown to both love his community and love to help his community.
Now, the director of the Weber State University Community Education Center is attempting to give even more service to the community by running for a seat on the Ogden City Council.
“I love my community, I love serving the people of Ogden and I believe that I can offer a diverse perspective for the city council,” Lopez said.
Lopez said that he already had ideas for what he would want to work on if he wins in the election and said that his three biggest priorities would be to provide assistance to the Union Station, improve the education rates and achievements in Ogden’s youth and look into providing more low-cost, indoor recreation opportunities for the community.
All three of these platforms speak to one of the largest tasks that Lopez wishes to accomplish: Make sure that everyone in the community has a voice, especially the Hispanic population.
Lopez has already worked toward making sure the Hispanic population in Ogden has their voice heard, as he has served as a member of the Ogden City-Weber State Diversity Connections initiative, while also starting the Latinos United Promoting Education and Civic Engagement committee.
“I want to figure out ways to reach out to them,” Lopez said. “Whether it’s through Diversity Connections or other means, reach out to this sector of the population and make sure we’re meeting their needs.”
Since immigrating to the United States from Mexico at the age of 19, Lopez has focused both his academic and professional careers into the education field. For 10 years, Lopez worked for the Ogden City School District primarily as an at-risk youth program director and director of the Community School Center while also spending several years as a Spanish teacher and ESL teacher.
“Because of my background in education, I believe that I can definitely have an impact in that area,” Lopez said. “I hope to offer a voice particularly for the students with low academic achievement. I believe that the Hispanic population—the immigrant students—have the lowest test scores in the district, so that’s another area I’m interested about.”
Along with helping to improve children’s educations in Ogden, Lopez also wants to find less expensive ways for families to stay active indoors during the winter—an issue that takes root from his family’s experiences.
“When I was younger and I was working on my (undergraduate degree), I had a young family, and my wife and I in the winter months had a really hard time finding places to take our kids just to spend some time and run around that weren’t expensive,” Lopez said. “We ended up having to go to places like McDonald’s or Costco or Wal-Mart just to get out of the house and do some walking around. I would like to explore opportunities to increase the venues that could offer families more indoor recreation.”
Along with improving education in Ogden and indoor recreation opportunities, Lopez also plans to help protect and preserve the history of the city, focusing specifically on the Ogden Union Station.
The Union Station used to be the junction for the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads, but now stands as a historic monument while housing the Utah State Railroad Museum, the Eccles Rail Center, the John M. Browning Firearms Museum and the Browning-Kimball Classic Cars Museum. Lopez said that the Union Station has been struggling financially for almost a decade, and the station is currently looking to raise money to help redevelop the building.
“That’s going to be a priority for me, to support the Union Station in conjunction with what’s already happening on 25th Street,” Lopez said. “It’s such an important historical landmark in our city. It’s such a beautiful building and it gives families the opportunity to go and learn about the history of the Transcontinental Union trains.”
When the poll booths close in November and the final votes are in, win or lose, Lopez will continue to do what he loves most: working to make Ogden a better place.
“I love Ogden, first and foremost, and I love serving,” Lopez said. “I love public service. For the last 13 years of my life, that’s what I’ve been doing.”