LEGISLATOR PROFILE Senator Hurtado, Following the Central Valley Dream

By Chardae Heim T o many, Melissa Hurtado is an energetic American politician serving in the California State Senate. While this is true, Senator Hurtado’s background and upbringing reveal how she came to be the determined, persevering female legislator representing California’s 14th Senate district. Melissa Hurtado knows firsthand what it means to achieve the American dream. She was born to two immigrant parents just 13 miles from Fresno, California, in a city named Sanger. While many immigrants come to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream, Hurtado’s parents moved to Sanger specifically to achieve what she refers to as the “Central Valley Dream.” Although the nature of the two dreams are homogeneous, Hurtado’s parents saw more opportunity in California’s Central Valley, reassuring themselves that Sanger

would be where they would officially start laying the foundation for their family’s economic and personal growth. Little did they know that not only would their decision to immigrate afford them the opportunity to take the first step on the American economic ladder, but their future daughter would grow up to make her mark in the California State Legislature, representing Sanger and surrounding areas. After earning her degree from California State University, Sacramento, Hurtado returned to the Central Valley as the first in her family to graduate from college. Employing the tenacity her father instilled in her, her mother’s innate perseverance and her own passion for prosperity within her community, Hurtado worked as a community organizer for public employees fighting for fair wages, healthcare coverage and retirement security. With a flair for advocacy, she transitioned from a community organizer to a Sanger city councilmember in 2016. Championing some of the same issues as her previous role, Hurtado’s efforts intensified. As a councilmember, she assisted in the creation of high-wage jobs, balanced a budget and built a reserve—all without tax hikes. Hurtado was a driving force in implementing change that improved the lives of the Sanger community, and she wanted to build on that momentum by taking her advocacy efforts to a state level. In 2018, she ran a campaign that advocated for access to healthcare, quality schools, good-paying jobs and the opportunity for a better life and was successfully elected to the California State Senate to represent the 14 th Senate District. Recently, Hurtado shared few takeaways from her experience thus far with Western Grower & Shipper . First, she quickly learned that it is virtually impossible to accomplish everything


MAY | JUNE 2020

Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

Made with FlippingBook Annual report