Growing up in the Valley shaped me. It made me who I am and the problems I’m passionate to solve. Merced is home, and it’s desperately in need of help. Our crime rate is among the nation's highest. Over a third of our people [live] below the poverty line, and our children suffer from epidemics of chronic disease. But we also have world-class resources and, if we do things right, a chance to really reinvent Merced and transform the region that raised me.