by We’Ced youth reporters
image: Brent Fitzgerald
Editor’s Note: Last week’s midterm elections results are being felt across the country. Nationally, Republicans gained the majority, in California, voters took a bold step towards prison reform by passing Proposition 47 and locally, the ballots decided that the City of Merced will now use a by-district electoral system.
We’Ced youth went into their communities to gather reactions on the election results, from skepticism around the election of our County Sheriff to disappointment at Jim Costa’s defeat and excitement at the prospect of putting less people behind bars.
Elieen Garcia, 24
“I am glad that Prop 47 passed because I don’t believe we should spend our tax money on criminals. Although I am happy with the results, I am really surprised that it actually passed.
I actually wasn’t aware of Measure T, probably because I live in Le Grand! I think that [the by-district system] is a fair and good system that all counties should start doing. Equal representation!”
Crissy Gallardo, 23
“We were ecstatic to find out that 59% of voters in Califaz supported prop 47! It meant that all of our hard work, canvassing, phone banking, and informing community members on 47 paid off. On election day thirty of us gathered to celebrate this huge victory!!
Since the War on Drugs started in the early 70’s our communities have been hurting and punished through incarceration, with no real rehabilitation opportunities. For several years my older brother was caught up in a vicious cycle of addiction and incarceration. To me the passage of Prop 47 meant offering him a second opportunity. It was about sending the message that black and brown lives matter!
By directing more money into mental health, rehabilitation programs, and education, I firmly believe that we will see a drastic change in delinquency. Incarceration is not the solution; locking people up and not offering rehabilitation continues a cycle of violence. Prop 47 is an alternative that offers hope to prevent crime from occurring and when returning citizens find structures in place to support their re-entry into community, they’re less likely to engage in negative activities.”
Luy Esparza, 35
“I’m satisfied with the election results. All the props that I was for or against passed as I expected. As a Democrat I’m a little discomforted knowing that there were quite a few Republicans elected into office.
I am also glad that prop 47 passed, because the state will save more money with people serving less jail time and use that saved money to help out school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment and other programs designed to keep offenders out of prison and jail. I am also pleased knowing that our state senator is a Democrat and know that we will be well represented.”
Jeremy Jenkins, 23
“I’m excited prop 47 passed! I have a lot of family that it would effectively change their lives and give them a second chance at getting a job and education. I feel that it will lessen crime rates and put more money back into our schools and mental health.”
Vanessa Arteaga, 21
“Actually no I didn’t like how all the elections turned out. I really thought Jim costa would win, he is from here who else is better to represent us than someone that is from here and knows the struggles.
I was happy measure T passed because it is good that each district will have its representative and try to do what is best for them. Like a person that has always lived in the good side of Merced know how it is to live in the bad side so they won’t know what to do.”
Jose Lara, 37
“Pat Lunney didn’t win [Merced’s Sheriff race] and neither did Jim costa and that was a great disappointment to me. I don’t know what what people were thinking. I heard [Vern Warnke] was a racist, I might have my facts wrong about him I don’t know he could also be a great man. I don’t know but majority of Merced is Mexican and other ethnicities so it’s just crazy to me. I just hope nothing bad comes out of this and he truly does better Merced because at that end that’s really all we want.
Jim Costa losing was very upsetting to me, I met him once and he was a people person and everything he said he said we great confidence. I truly believed he was the right choice.”
Alize Mendoza, 17
“I really don’t know about Vern Wernke being the new county sheriff but everything I have heard about him is bad. It kinda surprises me because he actually won.
Proposition 47 was well talked about for a while in my house. I am really glad it passed because I feel like we have been paying to keep our streets safe but at the same time paying for criminals to have a nice shelter over their heads with three meals a day. I hope that schools will benefit from this, and other things are going to be receiving more money.”
Angel Sanchez, 20
“I was very happy to hear that prop 47 passed. I think its stupid how some young people are caught with drugs end up getting felony charges. When you’re young and reckless you don’t think about how that can affect your future so someone might run out of their strikes early in life before they’ve even matured. I think this was definitely a step in the right direction.”