Chico >> Mercedes Macias is this election’s youngest council candidate at 26, inspired to run because she’s passionate about representative government.
“A lot of kids want to be a firefighter or a lawyer when they grow up, and I wanted to be the mayor of Chico,” Macias said. “Growing up, I’ve been a voice for everybody around me. I’ve always had people flock to me for advice or for counsel.”
Macias has three jobs: as a Has Beans barista, California Urban Streams Alliance intern and respite caregiver for The Arc of Butte County. She also volunteers for The Stream Team and Bidwell Park Watch. She represents a demographic she believes is not represented on the current City Council, she said: people who are working hard just to get by.
“There’s a lot of people in that category that aren’t homeless but are one step away,” she said. “City council decisions, the stuff that even gets brought to the council, caters to the middle and upper class.”
Macias said she is an ideal candidate because she has had experience volunteering and working with a people of all backgrounds since she was 12 years old.
The candidate said she was “extremely against” the Sit and Lie ordinance, which she said criminalizes sleeping and resting. As someone who has experienced homelessness, Macias said she understands how stressful it is, and that the real issue is hopelessness.
“It’s just a crisis across the board fueled by fear,” she said. “We need to be educating our community and connecting with each other and holding each other accountable as citizens.”
Social rehabilitation and establishing effective interagency connections is key in finding solutions, Macias said.
The candidate said the Police Department is doing a good job, and would like to see de-escalation training for all emergency response personnel, paramedics, police, and even park rangers. They would be trained in how to use “verbal communication to allow citizens to calm down and de-escalate” before physically apprehending them.
“There needs to be a human to human connection pushed there instead of just us and them,” she said.
Macias is also against anything that would pollute the environment or continue to disrespect council and community wishes, she said. This includes the location of Chico Scrap Metal. She’s in support of a recycling initiative, and improving The Esplanade and city infrastructure to include fully dedicated bike lanes.
The candidate is also concerned about food insecurity, and an advocate of encouraging city and community gardens to provide affordable, wholesome food.
“People don’t know the first thing about growing a tomato or bell pepper,”she said. “Those are things my generation is sad about not having … and it goes right back to the education.”
Contact reporter Ashiah Scharaga at 896-7768.