READING, Pa. - Michael Rivera is ready to step into his new role as a county commissioner, an accomplishment he doesn't take lightly.
"It's not something that happened overnight," Rivera said.
Christian Leinbach, his running partner and fellow county commissioner, called Rivera's win historic. Leinbach added that he (Rivera) is not only the first Latino county commissioner in Berks, but likely in the entire state of Pennsylvania.
"There have been many people that have come before us and they have run for office," said Rivera. "Many of them have not made it, but they have been paving the way."
Rivera wants to focus on fiscal responsibility in the county and work on economic development, like job creation and workforce development. He acknowledged being Latino is an asset, because it allows him to understand and relate to a larger percentage of the community.
"It's important when you're able to communicate and when you understand what more the county and the city is about, because it will help you in your role," Rivera said. "That will help you do what you need to get done to move the county forward."
Also this week, Reading elected its first Latino mayor, Eddie Moran, and three other city positions were filled by Latina women.
Tim Blessing, a political science and history professor at Alvernia University in Reading, said it's a sign of the times.
"We're seeing many, many more candidates coming from what are considered minority communities into the political mainstream," said Blessing, who added that these candidates are also coming with financial backing and voter support. He said it's becoming a trend nationwide.
"What has happened is not so much the fact that the numbers have changed, it's the engagement and enthusiasm have changed," Blessing said.