By Andre Guzman
Photo courtesy of Fidel Cervantes
Editor’s Note: Last Week, We’Ced sat down with District 4 County Supervisor Candidate Fidel Cervantes. The District 4 seat represents northern portions of Merced County including the cities of Ballico, Cressey, Delhi, Hilmar, Snelling, Winton, portions of Atwater, and areas further east. If elected, Cervantes, 24, a native of Delhi, would become the first Mexican-American and youngest person to ever hold a supervisor seat in the county of Merced.
Why did you decide to run for Merced County Supervisor?
The idea was, “Who can I support?” I take this very seriously. I’ve been serving my community; I have experience in government, [and I have] also served as supervisory council. So I’ve got an understanding of what it is to make change. I have confidence in my ability to do it. If you are really going to change something, you need to take action yourself. Don’t sell yourself short, don’t think because of your age or ethnicity that you can’t. You can. Nowadays you get the question, “Why are you running? Aren’t you too young?” And the answer is simple – no, I’m not!
What distinguishes you from the rest of the candidates?
A combination of both experience and outside credentials, but also having an understanding of the dynamics. And at the same time not being tied to the status quo. I really like to put out there that I’m not a part of that group; the group of folks who have been in power for substantial years who already have the means and support. I’m not related and/or have that particular connection. But I can do this!
What are some of your policy goals if you take office?
In District 4, we will have an investment in infrastructure. I will also push for transparency with the Board of County Supervisors. It’s important for a supervisor to have an open door policy. I would also make sure that when allocating funds [the process] is fair and that the distribution of funds is fair as well.
What is your plan to address the violence plaguing Merced County?
I’m not one to simplify the issue. We must understand that things build up over time and then become a problem. Violence and crime were not always this bad in Merced County. The lost child today comes from a lost child.
Considering rehabilitation for those who are committing crimes is one answer. Creating safe pathways for children to get to school, and finding ways to collaborate with organizations that are already making a difference are also options.
Simply put, I want everyone to have the same opportunity to succeed. My father got into an altercation with someone on drugs. I thought to myself, should I get mad or empathize? I chose to empathize by understanding that something is wrong with the individual and we can mitigate those issues with the proper rehabilitation.
A major issue in Merced is the lack of investment in youth. What will you do to change this?
I don’t have a specific dollar amount, but it is very clear that we need to invest in our youth. It is also clear that we need to invest in everyone [in Merced].
How important are young people to you?
The youth are very important! The future of our valley is in our hands. We are not going to sit on the sidelines and let others do for us when we have the power to do it ourselves.
What do you have to say to a young person of color who may be looking up to you as an inspiration?
Be fearless straight up! Our campaign was turning heads when we got our endorsements from the Deputy Sheriff’s Foundation. We were shocked. When I’m doing public speaking, I know people have preconceived perceptions of who I am because of my age and ethnicity. But once I’ve spoken everyone’s initial perception has changed. Now that’s powerful.
The answers here have been edited for length and readability.
Fidel Cervantes will be having a ‘Meet & Greet’ on Wednesday, May 25th at 6:00 pm at the Winton Hall located at 6592 N. Winton Way, Winton, Ca 95388. For more information, you can call (209) 606-6562.