By Sigifredo Macias
Jose Antonio Huerta was raised in the East Side.
The Ward 2 native also attended Riverside City College.
He believes this sets him apart from his opponents. Growing up in the area allowed him to see what things have changed in the city and what things have not. He witnessed the pressures of gangs, drugs and violence.
“These aren’t just issues to me,” Huerta said. “I actually know the families and people whose problems we solve. We have the same problems we did 10-plus years ago, but City Hall masks our concerns with gentrification rather than invest in the people.”
Huerta said his biggest fear in running for City Council is that society seems to measure a city’s progress in terms of economic success, gentrification and by how many Riversiders can be uplifted.
“I want the people I grew up with to share in our city’s success, not
just feel like they can no longer live here,” he said. “I want to ensure Riversiders are a part of every decision.”
Huerta also said being an RCC student had a significant impact on him because of the challenges he went through. The entrepreneurship program changed his life forever, he said.
“I have never felt more empowered as a student when I was in his class,” he said.
As Riverside continues to deal with strong winds, fires and hotter temperatures than usual, Huerta said he will aim to fight the climate crisis as Ward 2 City Council member. More green jobs is key, he argued, and that the city should leverage itself in a way that attracts more green companies, ultimately pushing Riverside to being a center for green companies.
“But it’s going to take a new generation of leaders to bring these issues to the forefront of our city’s policy priorities,” Huerta said.
Huerta said being an educator, coach and a Riverside native are his motives for running for election.
He said he does not want to use the city council chair as a stepping stone, but to help people in Riverside and for it to continue to prosper.
Huerta also plans to invest in youth sports, arts and mentorship programs.
“I am one example of what can happen if we continue to invest local, in our Riverside youth,” he said in a Facebook post.
A mail-in election will be held June 8.