Jesse Chavez’s path to pursuing public office began over a decade ago when the 26-year-old Highland Councilman was a teenager.
“I had to save my sister from having a gun pointed at her head, we were being robbed,” said Chavez, who celebrated one year in office on Tuesday. “I was living in San Bernardino at the time.”
After witnessing traumatic events and losing friends to gun violence, Chavez decided to get involved with faith based groups to address community concerns. Now as Mayor Pro Tempore, Chavez will be heading into 2018 with a set of ambitions to transform the western part of the city.
Chavez said his priorities for the upcoming year will be to create more transparency among the City Council, growing recreational opportunities for residents, and improving the quality of life for residents in District 1.
“I need to be more out there and get involved,” Chavez said. “We need to see what we could do. The funding is there. The issue is where to put that money.”
Chavez won the first District 1 election race in Highland city history. The 2016 election was the first time the city elected representatives based on district or area.
Among the things Chavez wants to help Highland accomplish is updating the website and broadcasting City Council meetings. In addition, he wants to continue improving the infrastructure around his district. With the help of District 2 Councilmember Anaeli Solano, Chavez convinced officials to turn over street light maintenance responsibilities to the city.
“Every street in my district would have five or six street lights that would not work,” said Chavez. “When a resident called, they would be redirected to Southern California Edison or San Bernardino. It caused a lot of confusion. Now we’re able to get street lights accounted for and replace them with new LED lights and provide proper maintenance.”
Chavez also wants to add to the growing development near Indian Springs High School. He envisions a park or recreational center to serve residents in west Highland. The second year representative claims he’s looking for grants that could turn his vision into reality.
“The thing that has pushed us back from constructing a park is keeping up with maintenance costs,” explained Chavez. “It means allocating more money and finding funding for positions. It’s important to find long term money for projects.”