After Leticia Montano-Hernandez was sworn in as the newest member of the Madras City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 22, City Councilor Royce Embanks joked, "This is the part where we throw you in the water and see if you can swim."
She jumped in, asking a question on the next item and suggesting a social media campaign to help promote local views on a draft habitat conservation plan the federal government will be considering.
In her closing comments at the meeting, she said she was happy the city is working on its housing shortage. She thanked her fellow councilors and said she was happy to be there.
Montano-Hernandez, 38, is adding the new position to an already busy schedule. She is the clinic manger for Mosaic Medical in Madras, and also works as a crime scene interpreter for the District Attorney's Office. She teaches catechism classes at St. Patrick Catholic Church, is on the board at Kids Club and the Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon, and volunteers at Latino Fest and at the MAC Dash. She even earned her flagger's license "just to volunteer" at the MAC Dash.
She also opened Brilett, a wedding and formal dress shop that includes tuxedo rentals.
"It keeps me busy, but I still manage to make quality time for my family," Montano-Hernandez said.
Her children, who are 17, 14, 13, and 7, are one of her main motivations for serving the community, and she credits her husband.
"I'm your average community member that just wanted to get things done, be an example and role model for my kids," she said.
Montano-Hernandez hopes to learn more about how city government works and "how to bring fresh ideas and be that voice."
She believes her perspective as a Latino woman will help her to make sure more voices are heard.
"Teamwork is the dream work," she said.
When she was younger, she didn't know she could serve her community.
"I come from humble beginnings," Montano-Hernandez said. "My parents were always hardworking people. To me, that's why it's important to have a voice."
She said when you grow up living paycheck to paycheck, as her parents did, you don't always have the opportunity to speak up.
Still, Montano-Hernandez has found ways to move up. After growing up in Culver, she earned a certificate in medical assisting from Central Oregon Community College and began working for Central Oregon Pediatrics in Bend.
In 2004, she moved to Madras with her husband, who is a residential aide at BestCare.
A doctor at Mosaic Medical recruited her to come work for the clinic. She started as a medical assistant. She loves computers and became the trainer for the clinic's medical records system. Then she began supporting Mosaic clinics in Madras, Redmond and Prineville.
Then "one fine day," she said, someone asked if she had thought about becoming the clinic manager in Madras.
Since then, the clinic has made a lot of changes, she said, expanding hours, evaluating progress, and creating a patient advisory committee, which she sees as another way to make sure all voices are heard.
How does she find time to do everything?
"I make time," she said. "I like to keep busy. I like to challenge myself."
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