Armando Carmona is a labor justice and pro-immigrant activist. He has extensive experience in education, civic engagement and is currently a Planning Commissioner for the City of Jurupa Valley.
However, his experience with local politicians over the years has made him see that it is time to take a step forward and represent his community in a different way.
Carmona, 33, is running to be the next councilman for District 1 of the 44-mile city that includes the areas of Pedley, Glen Avon, Indian Hills and Mira Loma.
The young man, the son of Mexican immigrants, said in an interview with La Opinion that as a councilman he plans to address more broadly the issues of protecting equestrian and ranch zoning, limiting high-density housing and apartments in protected equestrian areas, and continuing with the lifestyle that ranchers are accustomed to.
He believes that the large warehouses and dense buildings that are coming to Riverside County could seriously affect the lifestyle of thousands of families.
“I’m not against the apartments, but we want to prevent the issue of displacement,” Carmona said, fearing that residents will suffer from the effects of gentrification in some areas as has already happened in other cities.
He also plans to fight for the rights of residents who have animals on their ranches since, he explains, there is a restriction on how many animals a home can have.
The young man, who is perfectly bilingual, stressed that living on ranches does not mean living in undeveloped areas. In his campaign plans, he has also promised to advocate for investing in street lights and infrastructure to make horse trails easier to walk, while fighting to prevent vehicular accidents from occurring for those who like to drive too fast.
Another of the most common problems in the city that it intends to address is garbage. Jurupa Valley is a city of about 110,000 residents but lately it has become a run-of-the-mill dump.
It is common to see people leaving garbage such as furniture, construction materials, tires and other bulky objects lying around.
“This makes me think that the places to deposit this garbage are either very far away or very expensive and we must see what the problem is to solve it,” explained Carmona.
Know first-hand the needs
Carmona, a candidate for councilman, said that when he was one year old the family left the city of South Gate to live in Jurupa Valley. The city currently has approximately 70% Latino residents.
He assured that he enjoys ranch life and from a very young age he learned to ride. That is why it is not uncommon that in this campaign he is seen arriving at the homes of voters on horseback to ask for his support.
What is strange for many residents, according to Carmona, is seeing a candidate come knocking on their doors.
“Over the weekend I had two community meetings and some residents told me that they had never had one of these meetings, that the current councilwoman has never done them,” explained the candidate. “I think she has not shown the necessary leadership.”
Additionally, Carmona asserted that many of the people eligible to vote have lived in the same place for 20 or 30 years, but because there is no scope, there is no interest in politics either. But this prevents them from knowing who your local representative is.
“Most of the businesses I’ve talked to here don’t even know the councilwoman’s name.”
He explained that one of the most impressive things for him is to see that some of the residents and businesses in the area are registering to support him and vote for him because they believe in his message.
Tired of not being heard
The Latino activist also explained that for many years he has asked on multiple occasions that his local representatives address certain issues such as those previously mentioned. Since this has not happened, he believes that it’s time to take charge.
“There comes a time when we get tired of asking and asking and not being heard,” Carmona said.
“I think that when politicians stay for a long time [en sus puestos] they trust each other and they don’t think they have to do something for people to stay in the job”.
The young man is part of a group of candidates for various positions at the local and state level who, despite having no experience in politics, are running to represent the communities in which they grew up.
One of the most recent winners to gain local popularity is Eunisses Hernandez of Los Angeles, who defeated incumbent Councilman Gil Cedillo in the June primary. Starting in December, she will be the councilwoman representing Los Angeles District 1.
Carmona emphasized that his fight is for the well-being of the people, many of whom he has known since he was very young.
He added that the support he has received has come from the oldest people to the youngest, who have become the support base for his campaign, mainly high school and university students.
“[Los políticos locales] they have left us forgotten and if they are not going to fight for us, we are going to do it ourselves”, stressed the candidate.
The elections are on November 8.