Editor's note: This is one in a series of profiles on the candidates running for 1st and 2nd District seats on the Santa Maria City Council in the Nov. 3 election.
In his campaign for Santa Maria City Council, Open Streets organizer and community volunteer Carlos Escobedo aims to bring together residents by focusing on affordable housing, youth recreation and small business success in the city that he loves.
The proud first-generation American and college outreach and retention specialist at Hancock College is one of four challengers hoping to represent the 1st District in what will be the first term with four district seats on the City Council.
Brian Billones, Osvaldo Sotelo and Chris Diaz also are seeking the position, with no incumbents eligible to run.
His "Make It Happen" campaign slogan is best demonstrated in his work on the Open Streets celebration, which attracted 150 local businesses and thousands of residents to a mile-long section of Main Street opened only to pedestrians.
"I believe that politics is … about letting people know that you are going to represent what they want, but you are going to need their help. It's about politicians, the community, nonprofits and businesses coming together. Open Streets is the best example of that," he said.
Living in the city's 1st District, Escobedo said he feels motivated to advocate for an area that is overlooked in order to further engage residents.
"This area has been forgotten," he said. "There’s a big disconnect, especially in the northwest, in the 'hood.' People don’t know what the City Council [is]."
Having come close to homelessness himself at one point, affordable housing is a central issue in his campaign, with a focus on prioritizing low-income housing in the city.
Escobedo also is eager to create family and youth recreation initiatives, and increase community safety to fight crime in the city.
He has worked with nonprofits including the Boys and Girls Club, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Serve Santa Maria and Bici Centro.
Moving from Jalisco, Mexico, to work in the fields of Santa Maria and eventually becoming involved in the community, Escobedo said his "heart of service," work ethic and willingness to collaborate is what propelled him to run for office.
"That has been my motivation, my dream. The American dream is when you come here, you work hard and you serve the community. You have to invest in the people and they will trust you, and you will earn it," he said.
In this Series
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