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Highland Village Mayor meets Vice President Biden

Pam King - October 16, 2009

Dianne Costa like most Mayors, receives a lot of
invitations as Mayor of Highland Village, so it
wasn’t until a second invitation was followed up by
phone calls that Costa realized it was Vice President
Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, asking her to
join them for a reception at their home. The occasion:
a celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Week. The Vice President and his wife
invited Hispanic elected officials, Democrats as well as Republicans, like Ms. Costa,
from around the country, to join them for a cocktail reception at their official residence at
the Naval Observatory, in Washington D.C.. There were approximately 150 in

At her own cost, Mayor Costa flew to D.C., where she and her husband joined the other
guests in what she described as, “a home befitting a Vice President.” “We were serenaded
by a mariachi band and served sangria, guacamole, quesadillas and chips,” she said,
adding Vice President Biden and his wife were very warm, attentive and approachable.
His remarks, made from behind a podium on the stair landing, were very general, quoting
Cesar Chavez: “When you have people together who believe in something very strongly,
things happen.” Mr. Biden stated that under the Obama-Biden Administration, “good
things happen.”

Costa said she probably wasn’t alone feeling stereotyped by the reception atmosphere.
“As subtle as those things are, that is certainly not all there is to the Hispanic culture,”
Mayor Costa said. “I had to wonder, ‘Do they really know modern-day Hispanics or
understand what our issues are? Hispanics are small business owners,” continued Costa,
“who value education and are religious people. We didn’t come to the United States for a
hand-out and we don’t want to be enabled, we want to be empowered.”

“I went because it was a good opportunity to meet the Vice President and others. That is
always valuable and any time I have the chance to showcase Highland Village and our
Region, I will,” the Mayor said.

She met, among others, the Governor of Puerto Rico, a Congressman from El Paso and
the Honorable Eddie Espinoza, Mayor of Village of Columbus, New Mexico. “The magic
of the reception was, even though we certainly didn’t all share the same political views,
we do share a heritage and a culture and connected with one another almost as family.”

Costa said she and Mayor Espinoza discovered they were equally proud of their country,
patriotic and both have sons in the military. “When Mayor Espinoza told me his son was
stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base, in Wichita Falls, I said, ‘Send him down for a
home-cooked meal!’ What an opportunity to show the hospitality of Highland Village!”

Mayor Costa is known locally more for her leadership role in Highland Village and
Denton County than for her Hispanic heritage. However, “the influx of Latinos, from
Cuba, San Salvador, Mexico and elsewhere, into Highland Village in the last five years,
has stirred my pride as an American Latina,” says Costa.

“My Father’s father was from Italy and married into a family that emigrated from
Monterey, Mexico to Laredo. My Mother’s family emigrated from Allende, Nuevo Leon
Mexico to San Antonio. “Growing up, we were very Mexican,” Costa says with a laugh.
“We had our traditional Sunday family gatherings that were huge: my Mom was the baby
of 17 children, my father one of 12. Until I was ten, we had to hide the fact we were
Hispanic because Hispanics weren’t allowed in the neighborhood in which we lived.”

Costa also grew up in household full of music, so it may come as no surprise that she
availed herself of the opportunity at the Vice President’s reception to join the mariachi
band, dancing the Cumbia, a traditional Columbian dance, and having them serenade the
guests with one of her late mother’s favorite ballads.