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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 10:47 pm | Fair 51º


Santa Maria Native Announces Bid for District 3 City Council Seat

Gloria Soto launches campaign and says affordable housing, living wage and youth issues among her priorities

Gloria Soto launches campaign Click to view larger
Gloria Soto announces her intent to run for the Santa Maria City Council new District 3 seat Thursday at Minami Community Center. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Touting herself as a product of Santa Maria, Gloria Soto on Thursday announced her candidacy for City Council, becoming the first to seek to represent the newly formed District 3.

Soto, 29, gathered with more than 50 supporters Thursday in front of Minami Community Center, which sits in District 3.

“I am a proud product of Santa Maria,” Soto said. “I was born here. I was raised here and I was educated here. I have grown up in and with the city.”

She said she works for Planned Parenthood of California Central Coast and owns a home in the city’s Westgate neighborhood. 

“I am honored to be one of the first candidates to participate in our city’s new method of electing council members by district,” she said. “Santa Marians will now get a chance to vote for candidates who live near them, who know their neighborhoods and who will advocate for them.”

The City Council voted to implement district-based elections, dropping the at-large approach, after a threat of a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act.

After a series of public meetings, the result led to creation of four districts, which can be seen by clicking here, with voters in those areas to select their council members.

However, voters across the city still will vote for mayor. 

In November, two four-year terms, representing Districts 3 and and 4, will appear on the ballot.

Gloria Soto launches campaign Click to view larger
Surrounded by family and friends, Gloria Soto announces her intent to run for the Santa Maria City Council new District 3 seat during a gathering Thursday at Minami Community Center. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

District 3 includes the southwest section of the city, with Councilman Jack Boysen announcing he does not intend to run for another term.

However, another candidate, Raymond Acosta, has filed a candidate intention statement for District 3, according to the city's website.

The filing period for City Council candidacy, along with other special district and school seats, opens July 16 and closes Aug. 10. In races where an incumbent does not seek re-election the filing period extends another five days to Aug. 15.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

For District 4, Councilwoman Etta Waterfield has announced she would seek another term on the council. 

She will face at least one challenger after attorney Rafael Gutierrez who also filed paperwork to run for the office.

If elected, Soto would become the youngest woman to serve on the council, which has had five other female members on the dais since 1905. The trend started with Sadie West from 1930 to 1934, followed decades later by now-Mayor Alice Patino, former members Hilda Zacarias and Terri Zuniga and Waterfield.

Supporters attending Soto's campaign kickoff included Diana Perez, from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School board of education. 

“Gloria loves Santa Maria and Gloria will protect Santa Maria,” Perez said.

Soto grew up in Santa Maria and attended local schools, graduating from Pioneer Valley High School in its first class in 2007. She went on to attend Allan Hancock College and Chapman University.

In the campaign kickoff, Soto noted the high homeless rate among students in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.

“This is why affordable housing will be a key issue of my candidacy,” she said, noting the tight rental market and high rental rates. 

Soto also said she would push to bring more jobs that provide living wages to Santa Maria. 

She added she would work to bring more businesses involved in technology, agriculture, tourism and aerospace to provide jobs for recent college graduates who want to return home.

After robust housing projects, she said she would advocate for balancing residential and commercial development, adding that District 3 needs more grocery stores, restaurants and recreational options, she added.

She called youth issues her primary passion, noting the key role played by her family as well as community organizations for learning and having 

“If our city wants to reduce youth violence and change the odds for our community’s future, it has to invest in its youth people — all of them,” Soto said, adding she intends to boost collaboration between the city and its schools.

“I am committed to making a difference in the lives of Santa Marians by advocating for affordable housing, for living wage jobs and for a brighter future for the youth of Santa Maria,” she said. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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