I was born right here in the Central Valley, the son of a single, Black, working-class mother. She was an admitting clerk for a local hospital and a union representative for SEIU-UHW in Bakersfield. While my mother’s love and support were never in short supply, she struggled to raise two children amid ever-increasing costs of housing, transportation, and health care. She worked 10 to 12 hour days and relied on food stamps just to raise and to provide for my sister and I.
Without consistent access to quality health care, my mother struggled with chronic high blood pressure and other health problems her entire life - something all too familiar for many in the Valley. Losing her in 2011, at only 50 years old, opened my eyes to the stark inequities in our broken health care system and the painful disparities in health outcomes for Black, Brown, and low-income families.
Despite the challenges that our family faced, my mother instilled in me a profound sense of determination and taught me to always fight for what is right and for what I believed in. She held an adamant belief in the power of education that she passed on to me. To this day, I still remember her repeating the mantra, “Knowledge is Power,” whenever she dropped us off at the bus stop for school. My mother’s abiding belief in education allowed me to attend decent public schools and become the first in my family to attend and graduate from a 4-year university.
At Fresno State, where I earned my degree in Political Science and met Erin, my lovely wife and the mother of my two beautiful daughters, I relied on Pell Grants and worked minimum wage jobs to put myself through school and to help support my younger sister. My academic, personal, and professional successes would not have been possible without the opportunities, resources, and support of the Valley community. This motivated me to pursue a career in public service.
At the Fresno County Department of Social Services, I worked to connect low-income people and families to community-based resources and government assistance programs such as CalFRESH and Medi-Cal. I saw face-to-face the harsh reality of how many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones in the Valley are forced to rely on assistance programs just to get by. Today, I am proud to serve as an Operations Manager at the California Department of Water Resources, leading frontline conservation efforts, supporting family farms, and combating droughts.
I was set on a path all too familiar for far too many in the Valley: an impossible one. I understand the burden that working people shoulder because it’s a burden I too have carried. In a system that has stacked the deck against working families, people like me aren’t supposed to run for Congress.
But here I am. In this campaign, I carry the values that my mother worked so hard to cultivate in me. The issues that the people of the Central Valley confront every day are not political talking points – they are the lived experiences of hundreds of thousands of families just like mine. It is time that one of us represented our interests, and I would be honored to have your support and your vote.
Devin Nunes has been in office as our Congressman for 20 years and he has utterly failed to address any of the challenges and issues facing our District. He has introduced NO meaningful legislation and stood in the way of measures aimed at tackling our water crisis, reforming our broken immigration system, or increasing access to health care and affordable housing. We need a new generation of leadership. The Valley deserves leaders who represent our values, not a career politician that uses political donations from corporate interests for his own personal gain. We need a representative in Washington that works for our community, not a national embarrassment that is preoccupied with pushing the latest conspiracy theory or partisan stunt in front of the cameras.
We have an opportunity to make a real change right here, in the heart of California. We can have our tax dollars work for us, not wealthy special interests. We can have a government not marred by partisan bickering, but one that works for the people of our Valley, regardless of where they live, what they look like, where they are from, or who they love.
The Central Valley is my home. It’s where I met and married my wife and where we chose to raise our kids. I want to serve the people of my home and, together, with your support, I know that we can build a brighter future for all.