SANTA MARIA, Calif. - For the first time, voters in Santa Maria's District One, will directly elect a representative to the city council next month. Voters will have the option of electing four different candidates.
Santa Maria's district one comprises most of the Northwest side of the city. It's a mix of older and newer mostly working-class neighborhoods with a population of about 25,000 people.
"I've gone to multiple homes where three to four families live in one home, to me, that saddens me," said Candidate Osvaldo Sotelo.
Candidate Brian Billones says, "there's issues of overcrowding in the streets and in the homes."
"I would like to see the city invest in itself to have more things for the residents to do, more things for the youth to do," says Candidate Chris Diaz.
Candidate Carlos Escobedo says, "increase public safety, increase affordable housing, support local businesses."
Santa Maria's Northwest side has seen its share of crime and gang activity.
The district one candidates support public safety, but they also want more funding for a densely populated area of the city they say has been largely left behind.
Candidate Osvaldo Sotelo says, "constituents have pointed out to me why is it there's no new development in district 1 or at least the north side of town actually, I know there's some coming but everything happens on the south side of town."
"What we can do is we can try to approach systemic issues where maybe tax money hasn't gone to specific issues maybe equally," says Candidate Chris Diaz.
Candidate Brian Billones says, "I think we could do that with the taxes we do have for public safety right now we can convert some of that money right now into programs such as that.
"They've been telling me, carlos, public safety is what we want. We want to be able to go in the streets and feel safe," says Candidate Carlos Escobedo.
Managing the city's growth while providing services and programs for residents and younger people in district one is a top concern for the candidates.
Candidate Chris Diaz says, "I don't want to be just defund this or just go with that, I would like to do things that actually improves the quality of life here."
"Diversity in the job market is going to be very important to be able to have residents afford and maintain their homes," says Candidate Brian Billones.
Candidate Osvaldo Sotelo says, "another thing I really want to push for is a soccer complex, imagine Santa Maria with a soccer complex. That is a big, big thing for me, it's a big thing for the constituents."
"We have to learn to get to know each other and trust each other and by doing that, by focusing on what unites us, we'll become a stronger community," says Candidate Carlos Escobedo.
For more information about each candidate, visit our 2020 Voter Guide.