Huntsman's Pick for Ethnic Affairs Adviser Settles into Job

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gov. Jon Huntsman has made permanent his selection of a 27-year-old minority advocate who was picked in July to be acting director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs.

Luz Robles oversees a staff of four to represent Utah's Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and black populations.

"I think she'll do a good job, if she's allowed to do it," said AnnaJane Arroyo, a former member of the state Hispanic Advisory Council. "It's such a real political position that you don't know how tight her hands are going to be tied."

Gonzalo Palza, an advisory council member, said he expects Robles to help resolve the uncertain status of undocumented workers in Utah, especially among Latinos who make up 11 percent of the state's population.

"Luz's effectiveness will depend on her ability to change from the state's vision for the office to the real responsibilities to the Latino community," Palza said.

Forrest Crawford, a Weber State University professor and community activist, said Robles "has solid qualifications to be able to address complex problems."

The search for an ethnic-office director drew 33 applications in August, and seven people were interviewed for a job with a suggested salary range of $48,800 to $73,000, depending on experience.

Yvette Donosso Diaz, executive director of the state's Department of Community and Culture, said she was impressed with Robles' leadership in creating the Multicultural Health Network as a policy analyst for Utah Issues Center for Poverty Research and Action.

A native of Mexico, Robles moved in 1996 to Salt Lake City to obtain business and public administration degrees at the University of Utah. Now married, she has a 1-year-old daughter.

"My goal is to make the office a more credible and respected entity in state government," Robles said. "I'm sure we're going to make changes that impact our community."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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