WSU graduate hopes to create new opportunities for hometown

Castaneda to become firefighter, complete emergency medical technician training this summer



Castaneda may not be pursuing a council seat at this time, but he still hopes to be involved in his community.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter

WSU alumni Eduardo Castaneda cast his name into the running for council in Quincy, Washington, but withdrew from the race in the best interests of the town. 

Castaneda said there are seven of the council seats in Quincy up for election this year, and he was running for position number four.

He wanted to make an impact in his community and create opportunities for the town that he did not have growing up, such as recreational activities like sports, he said.

“Our town gets very cold in the winter and there’s a lot of ice everywhere. For decades, my town has been thinking about and planning an indoor sports facility,” he said. “We’re trying to build a sports facility for our youth community, and I’m also trying to improve our parks [and] build bike lanes.”

In 2012, Washington legalized marijuana, but gave local cities the ultimate say on whether they would allow marijuana stores to operate, Castaneda said. 

While Pullman has three or four shops, Quincy voted to outlaw any kind of store within city limits, he said. 

“I believe that is regressive thinking when you ban something that is legal in the states and can benefit so many people with their health,” he said. “It could also provide tax revenue for the city.”

Castaneda said Quincy is 80 to 85 percent Latino, but most of the government is white, and he believes the city government should reflect the demographics of the city.

“The unfortunate part is that Latinos in my town, such as me, didn’t know how to make a change or are not informed as to how to run for office,” he said.

Castaneda said his experience as a low-income Latino, being the first in his family to go to college and making connections in the community helped him become more relatable to his community.

Castaneda graduated from WSU in 2017 with a bachelor of arts in foreign languages. He also had a minor in criminal justice, he said. 

He said his experiences at WSU impacted his views about life as well. 

Castaneda said he took an international politics course, and some of the material focused on ongoing events in the Middle East with terrorist groups such as ISIS. 

“I was inspired to walk to the recruiter’s office on campus,” he said. “I enlisted in the Army National Guard that day.”

Castaneda said his experiences in the army have helped him see both sides of every situation.

“Some people are against the police, and I believe the police are very important to our community in Quincy,” he said. “I believe that my experiences allow me that opportunity … to be a person from a marginalized community … and a service member that can relate to the issues of first responders.”

Castaneda said he is now focusing on completing his military career with the Washington Army National Guard.

“[I am] beginning my wildland firefighting career with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources this summer, and completing my EMT training,” he said.

While he is not currently pursuing the position in city council, Castaneda said he still hopes to find opportunities to get involved in his community.

“I entered politics last year to highlight inequities in central Washington, to begin conversations on hard topics and inspire others to get involved in their political process,” he said. “I believe I have accomplished all three.”

WSU alumni Bryan Vasquez went to WSU at the same time as Castaneda, and they both transferred from a community college in 2013.

“We’ve been a part of many multicultural organizations and a lot of social justice movements,” Vasquez said. “We go back eight years now, and ever since we’ve stayed connected. Not just friendships but doing political work.”

Vasquez said he was able to start a student-recognized organization alongside Castaneda and 40 undocumented students of color.

“That group focused on supporting students who were undocumented,” he said. “I remember putting in a lot of work for that, and [Castaneda] was a big part of that.”

Vasquez said Castaneda is a generous and social person. 

“[He is] very funny and has a great sense of humor,” he said. “He’s always very energetic, sometimes too much energy.”