Born in San Diego to a Native Mexican American and a Mexican Immigrant, Mercedes spent her first three years in the Chula Vista barrio. In 1993, her family relocated to Paradise, CA, where her mother enrolled her in Kindergarten at the local parochial, St. Thomas More Catholic School, where she remained until 8th grade graduation. A background in Roman Catholic ideology saw her volunteering at a very young age, starting by simply working the game booths in 2002 at Johnny Appleseed Days. It was during this time that she decided she’d like to someday become the mayor of Chico.
In 2004, her family detoured toward Red Bluff, and two years saw her busing tables for the Splendor in the Valley Fundraiser while attending Mercy Catholic High School. She participated in ensemble casting for Mercy’s productions of Pirates of Penzance and Guys & Dolls. Her last two years of High School were spent reading textbooks cover-to-cover out of HomeTech Charter School in Paradise while she and her sister took Shasta and Butte College courses concurrently. As her life experience progressed, she found herself determined to move to Chico and become more involved in the arts, focusing on Vocal Performance, Ballroom Dancing, and Community Theater.
In 2007, Mercedes was cast in her first Musical Theater show in Chico (High School Musical) and then traveled to Eastern Australia as a Student Ambassador with People to People the summer of her 17th birthday. Upon her return, she endeavored to remain local and invest time in her community by registering for the Honors Program at California State University, Chico, where she was accepted on a full-ride scholarship. The summer after high school graduation Mercedes traveled to the People’s Republic of China with a close friend who was native to the area. They stayed with their friends and family for 3 months, visiting both the big cities, major tourist destinations, and what can only be described as undeveloped concrete towns and desolate rural villages. One week after their return, the two found a cheap apartment together on North Cedar Street in Chico, where she began her Freshman year of college.
While at University, she participated in Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), became involved with the International Students Association, and founded the Karaoke Club. She pursued a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, declaring a double minor in Ethics, Justice, & Policy and Sustainability while earning a spot on the Dean’s Honors List for two semesters in a row. She was hired on as the Personal Assistant to the Head of the Honors Department before filing for a leave of absence to spend more time with her family.
In 2010 she began work for the ARC of Butte County as a Respite Care Provider at the request of a theater acquaintance who has since come to be known as a cherished personal friend. Mercedes continues to offer aid and support to this family on an as-needed basis.
A brief stint in the California Conservation Corps earned her distinctions as an active volunteer in the community through a scholarship from AmeriCorps for over 250 total volunteer hours logged in 2012. She received a promotion to Acting Crew Leader during the harsh 2012 California Fires. She was motivated to earn a Class-B Commercial Drivers’ License and passed with a perfect DMV Score, helping to coordinate support for Firefighters and HotShots at the Sites-Complex and Colusa Fairgrounds supply camps. It was during this time that she began active involvement with the Stream Team: Citizen Water Monitoring Project and the City of Chico’s Park Watch volunteer initiative. Her volunteer status with these organizations remains active today.
In the fall of 2012, she chose to extract her passions from the CCC, filing a detailed and documented 22 page formal complaint against the organization with the EEOC in San Francisco. It would be over 3 years before she saw the success of this complaint in the form of admission of guilt from CCC administrators. To process this difficult time, Mercedes began studying the Korean Martial Art of Tae Kwon Do under Grandmaster Farshad Azad. Spring 2013 brought with it an age of increased inner reflection and the integration of T’ai Chi Ch’uan into her meditative practice. Mercedes reached out once more as a volunteer usher and concessions worker to local theaters and resumed her interest in vocal performance. This networking led to a 2013 invitation to serve as the youngest member of the Board of Directors for the Theatre on the Ridge in Paradise. She has since accepted the role of Secretary for the 40 year Non-Profit Agency.
As April 2013 began, Mercedes sold her car, bought a bike, and found herself writing again – seeking new ways to grow and learn. She jumped into local efforts to study and increase food security in the Chico area, especially in unincorporated Chapmantown. She was hired as the Assistant Market Manager for the Certified Farmers’ Market; and later with the North Valley Community Foundation as an independent contractor for the “Cultivating Community” grant. At the same time, Mercedes was creating much of the original paperwork and forms for the Downtown Ambassadors, working under the direction of Bill Such and others, training new volunteers, and attending Chico City Council Meetings.
By the end of 2013, Mercedes detached herself from her role in Chapmantown and stepped aside to make way for a new direction in the Downtown Ambassadors. She chose to postpone the pursuit of her own personal dreams and interests when a new business in Downtown Chico requested that she assist them in establishing their new family restaurant. Although initially declining the offer, Mercedes eventually agreed, with the understanding that she would not be a basic employee, but an equal partner with a 1/3 share in the business and a member of the family — one day managing that particular venue while the couple opened other restaurants. 2013 was just the start of three years of broken promises.
By the end of July 2016, Mercedes turned 26 and wasn’t happy with her professional life. She worked harder than ever, but the return was almost nonexistent. The professional relationship at the restaurant had deteriorated along with the hours. She could no longer financially support herself or emotionally tolerate the strain of the tense work environment. She had to make a change. She quit her job and filed paperwork to run for City Council.
August 1st 2016 Mercedes started a new job as an early morning barista beside City Hall and was brought on as an intern for the CA Urban Streams Alliance. She resumed her position as a Respite Care Provider with the ARC of Butte County and her passions for Ballroom dancing, social activism, and vocal performance. She joined a local 60s cover band called “Channel 66,” covering 60s Folk-Rock and British Invasion tunes alongside her boyfriend, Dallas, and their friend, Annie.
November 2016 brought with it a few new council members; Mercedes was not among them. She had spent absolutely no money on her campaign for City Council, outside of the minimum amount required to print her statement in the Voter Ballots. She accepted no donations and relied entirely on word-of-mouth and grassroots activism. Mercedes was able to maintain her integrity and stand by her ideals, earning the votes of 5,273 people in the City of Chico without needing to buy them. She refused to clutter the internet with a brand new website or e-mail address for her campaign, instead offering the community a chance to view her as she was – by including links to her facebook page, online blog, and personal cell phone number. She is proud of her accomplishments and feels that her point was made. She ran as a Green Party Candidate and holds firm to those ideals, wishing equity and justice for all. Earning the confidence and trust of over 5000 people in her area is a great honor she hopes to someday be able to repay.
In January of 2017, Mercedes returned to school by enrolling at Butte College, a local community college where she felt she could get her feet wet again after 5 years being out and prepare to transfer back to CSU Chico in a year or 2. She worked hard and earned straight A’s, setting her sights on returning to CSU Chico in the Spring of 2018 as a Sociology Major.
September 2018 was the debut of her first stint in a local theater production for a musical theater show known as “Radioland.” In it, she portrayed a character named “Rosa Delgado” who has her face painted for most of the Holiday Season, singing fun tunes and celebrating Dia De Muertos for much longer than necessary. Still, her portrayal of Rosa captivated audiences with the traditional Spanish-language song, “La Llorona,” and the English language version of “Autumn Leaves” by Eva Cassidy.
She continues in her second semester at Butte College and looks forward to the possibility of rejoining the Honors Program at CSUC next Spring and getting back to her local volunteer climate.