I ran for City Council to invest in Westside Costa Mesa. It was time for us to have a City Council Member standing up for Westside families and our children in District 4.
As a lifelong resident of Westside Costa Mesa, I know the issues that face our District 4 neighborhoods because I grew up here. I am a Save Our Youth alumni who went to Pomona and Rea elementary schools and graduated from Estancia High School. I earned a degree in political science and religious studies from UC Irvine and was elected as a delegate to the California Democratic Party in 2017.
I’ve experienced our community’s troubles with a lack of resources for first responders, deteriorating infrastructure, high rents and homelessness. It is from this first-hand experience that I can serve as a thoughtful and informed voice for our district’s residents and businesses.
Growing up, I remember seeing many changes in my neighborhood, and a lack of input from the community in the direction of our city. The neighboring apartment complexes where I grew up were torn down and replaced by new buildings I knew my neighbors wouldn’t be able to afford. One by one, the people in those complexes were pushed out, either by a high rent increase or eviction. This affected me, and I remember being a disillusioned 8th grader who didn’t believe I belonged in Costa Mesa, let alone what community would be gone next, or what it meant to afford a roof over your head.
Thanks to my teachers at Estancia High School, my involvement with Save Our Youth (SOY), and my activism with the Democratic Party, I was able to receive mentoring from amazing people throughout my life. My mentors challenged me to go beyond what I thought I was capable of, especially when it came to my education. I didn’t believe I could go to a University because it seemed so out of reach, like it was too much for a kid from the Westside. It was during my youth that I learned the importance of hard work and education from my parents and teachers, who instilled in me the belief that you can accomplish anything.
During my first year at UC Irvine, my goal was to get involved in politics. I wanted to make sure the voice of my community was heard in the democratic process. This passion led me to get involved in groups like the Orange County Young Democrats and the College Democrats at UCI, where I quickly became a regular at their meetings. In my senior year I was elected President of the College Democrats at UCI, where we worked hard to grow the base of young people involved in the Democratic Party, and build a thriving chapter at UCI.
I am focused on several key issues:
We need a city council that invests in the Westside. I am committed to increasing access to public parks and infrastructure in Westside Costa Mesa. The City should also work more closely with local organizations and non-profits to expand their existing work to help Westside families and youth.
To improve community safety, I will work non-stop to support our city’s police and first responders. Our city council should be working to improve trust and safety in our community by keeping Police and Fire departments local in addition to restoring depleted department staffing.
We need smart planning. It is vital to my district and to our city that our children and grandchildren can afford to live in this community. Our city council must make space for old and new residents while maintaining our quality of life. I will work to prioritize walkability, affordability, and access to transit services to reduce traffic.
We need elected leaders who will step up and take action to address homelessness. It is vital for our city to find short and long-term solutions for shelter, housing, and public safety. While on city council I will work tirelessly to engage with the Board of Supervisors and our neighboring cities until we have a better long-term solution to the issue of chronic homelessness in Orange County. A study at UC Irvine found that it is more expensive to the county for homeless to remain on the street than in permanent housing. We should pursue this compassionate and fiscally responsible approach.
To face these issues, I think we need new ideas and a new perspective to make sure that our city works for everyone. I want to champion the values and interests of Westside Costa Mesa in City Hall. And most importantly, I plan to listen to you – our community’s residents.
In the first year of district elections in our city’s history, we elected a strong voice for our Westside neighborhoods. No one is better prepared to lead our neighborhoods than your new City Council as we undertake a historic restoration and investment in Costa Mesa’s Westside.
After living through the struggles of our community, I’m serving as an authentic voice representing us in District 4, standing up for every single family in Westside Costa Mesa. Let’s stay in touch!
* Manuel currently serves as the Costa Mesa City Council Member for District 4 and as an elected delegate for Assembly District 74 to the California Democratic Party (2 terms: 2017-2019, 2019-present). Manuel lives in Westside Costa Mesa and works full-time as a dealer funding coordinator in Newport Beach.
* Manuel’s past experience includes serving as the President of the College Democrats at UC Irvine (2015-2017) and the outreach chair for the Democratic Club of Greater Irvine (2015-2017). Manuel was also a founding member of the Youth Leadership program at Christ Cathedral, and has stayed involved with his church.