I come from a family of hard-working and determined people. My grandfather was a bracero farmworker from Oaxaca, Mexico who worked the fields of Watsonville and the Salinas Valley in the 1940’s. After recovering from pesticide poisoning, he went on to manage a farm and a gardening business that allowed him to bring my grandmother and family to California. My mother got an education and became a bilingual school teacher. My father was a math teacher whose parents rose from poverty to become a nurse, and a scientist for the National Institutes of Health.
My family was always involved in community affairs and I became politically active in high school running phone banks and walking neighborhoods for local candidates. After graduating from UC Berkeley I went to Washington D.C. where I witnessed the Bush Administration and corporate lobbyists push through legislation to promote fracking. I realized that one of the best ways to help overcome corporate power was to organize and build community power in the field.
In 2006, I became Food & Water Watch’s first organizer in California and later the California Director. Over the last 13 years I helped communities across the state to win fracking bans and protect their water from being privatized by corporations. We worked with the United Farm Workers to win overtime pay for farmworkers and we helped pass a bill that states that every Californian has the right to clean water.
Here in the 20th Congressional District I helped support and lead major victories to protect our air, water and land. I’ve worked together with Central Coast organizations to overcome the impact of millions of dollars spent by corporations and helped them win the following measures:
- Monterey Peninsula’s Measure J won the right to initiate a public water buyout – 2018
- Monterey County’s Measure Z banned fracking and new oil wells – 2016
- San Benito County’s Measure J banned fracking and new oil wells – 2014
- Santa Cruz County Ordinance banned fracking and oil drilling – 2014
- Santa Cruz’s Measure P guaranteed a public vote on proposed desalination plants – 2012
This year an opportunity arose to help Public Water Now move the Monterey Peninsula closer to a public water system and stop Cal-Am’s effort to build a private desalination plant in Marina. Having worked with their leaders for over a decade, I seized the opportunity and moved to Watsonville, the city my grandfather had once called home as a farmworker.
Over the last several months I’ve been listening to many community leaders talk about their desire to have a Congress Member who would partner with them to take on the biggest challenges of our time. Given the relationships I’ve built and my growing understanding of the issues that residents face, I realized that now was the right time to build a campaign to help advance the bold legislation that is critical to the future of this district and our country.