When I was first approached to provide insight on how younger generation of Tracy view politics, I was somewhat taken aback. Because, in all honesty, millennials have it rough when it comes to our opinions having value. Being 21, I'm told by family that I am too young to know how the world works. Despite working with community leaders, I am still treated as a child who does not know what he is talking about.
In some ways, that is how the state views the Central Valley. Its people are not looked at in the same regards as the urban centers in the Bay or SoCal. Leaders in Sacramento overlook us in providing resources or programs. And that plays into the larger rural/urban divide that has split America. When I lived in Tracy, California, I remember my friends talked about how Tracy sucked. It was not a place you stay long. During the day, you leave for the Bay. When you graduate, you move to the cities. And what does that mean for the people who are left behind? The people who choose to stay or choose to move here?
When I took off to go to UCLA, I thought there was a possibility of settling down in LA. I thought, "I'll visit Tracy, but I'll never live here again." As I finished school, I realized that I could use the my experiences to understand and enhance the lives of people back home. I could bring back my experiences to help our community grow into what it needs to be.
At UCLA, I took courses that provided new perspectives on the policy issues. In a Latino politics class, I learned that there is a lack of clean drinking water in the Central Valley. It is expensive to build new wells. A lack of large populations discourages investment. Many people, especially impoverished Latino communities, to turn to cheaper and unhealthy sodas. This issue will become more prominent in years to come. I concur it will lead to tensions between the urban and rural areas.
Working with Assembly Member Eggman allowed me to see the issues affecting Tracy firsthand. I was proud to help her pass a measure that would connect Tracy to BART. People spend an hour to Pleasanton or a 2-hour commute to San Jose or SF. This should not be the standard. I know that this is a prominent issue that is affecting our community. I have seen how transportation systems operate in different regions of the country. I am inspired me to help develop an integrated system here at home. My inspiration comes from reading about the growth of rail and cars over the last 200 years. My hope is to adapt current programs and policies to the transportation advancements.
I see change starting in Tracy. Michael Tubbs (Stockton) and Dan Arriola (Tracy) inspiring young adults like me to return to our roots. These members brought their education and experiences home. They are working to make a difference in our communities. I look forward to returning to Tracy to follow in their footsteps. I want to build bridges on the issues that are impacting us. These range from affordable housing and transportation to quality of education and local business. We are on the cusps of building a golden society that will show the nation the strength of California. And I look forward to being a part of that movement.