City: San Fernando
Position Seeking: City Council
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
I was 5. I stood on the stage, dressed as a hobbit in a Community Theatre production of The Hobbit, and as I looked out from under my hood, all I could see were the feet of the people in the front row. It was magic.
From that point forward I have been involved in the arts. I knew that night I was to be an actor and my parents supported my interests and efforts even though our small, rural town saw me as “gay,” a “weirdo,” and looked at my sensitivity as an “emotional problem.” I never forgot that feeling of magic and it carried me like a good friend through any and every struggle I had growing up.
It seems like such a simple thing, to be on stage and see feet, but knowing I was part of something bigger than myself, knowing I was part of the source of the magic that held all those people in wrapped attention and that, in the end, I was a part of what entertained them and gave them an escape from their own struggles, has given me the fire to stay in the arts and serve my community.
There have been many great and meaningful moments since but that was the first and it shaped the man I was to become.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
City Council has a responsibility to serve the entire community and I believe it irresponsible to ignore our city’s rich, creative diversity. Cities have recreation centers where various athletics are supported and encouraged. As a City Council, we owe it to the community to support and sponsor a Culture and Arts center as well. Not everyone can participate in athletics however an arts center can provide something for everyone in San Fernando.
I would ask my fellow Council members the following: How many children, right now, are teased or feel they are less because they are not good at or are not interested in sports? How many are judged by peers and adults unfairly because they are “too sensitive?” How long are we as a City Council, sworn to serve our community, going to ignore the rich cultural and artistic merit of our residents and community at large?
We must create a Cultural and Arts Center to encourage the growth of our residents, particularly the youth. The development of the “whole child” has been the goal of educational philosophy for the last 40 years. It is time San Fernando step up and step forward to serve the “whole community.” We are the community leaders and we must lead by example. Supporting our community’s arts and cultural infrastructure should be part of our general agenda and mission.
Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?
My vision for San Fernando is, first, to bring about financial stability because without it, we have nothing with which to build our community up.
I see businesses filling empty buildings. I see the repurposing of the abandoned J.C. Penny building as a Cultural and Arts Center. I see our community embracing our creative diversity to develop Arts and Educational fairs that will improve unity as a city, provide exposure for our music, dance, theatre and fine art community, and help fund the renovation of the old J. C. Penny.
I see San Fernando embracing new businesses, shops, goods and services that provide jobs to those struggling. I see us coming together to care for our aging community to support and defend those who stood up for us and helped to build this community. Our elders and aging have been pushed aside and left helpless by members of the current council and my slate running mate, Marvin Perez, and I seek to build a secure and safe place for them within our city.
Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?
Right now, the creative jobs within the city of San Fernando are much less than that of this report. That is primarily due to the lack of support from our current council members. Cultural and artistic endeavors are the lifeblood of any community and ignoring their contributions is irresponsible and, frankly, foolish.
When elected, I will begin the planning and implementation of Arts and Education fairs to be held on a biweekly basis beginning Memorial Day weekend and continuing through to Labor Day. This will just get San Fernando started in what will become a tradition of celebrating and supporting the arts within our city. As well, supporting and celebrating our arts community puts the focus on jobs in our arts sector thereby supporting, city-wide, the many contributions and opportunities the arts provides for livelihood.
San Fernando can no longer be afraid to celebrate the many contributions employment within the arts brings to our city. Present council members have consistently voted for and sought business relationships with and from the private sector, primarily with developers who have shady backgrounds and reputations for shutting out artistic and cultural businesses that are locally owned and operated. I will repurpose our business focus as a city and support our local creative and cultural ideas and people to provide employment, financial and artistic vitality to San Fernando.