Pedrozo starts campaign for seat on Board of Supervisors

March 7, 2019

With the backdrop of the new Campus Parkway extension project taking shape near East Childs Avenue, former Merced City Council member Josh Pedrozo on Monday announced his candidacy for the District 2 seat on the Merced County Board of Supervisors.

One year from now — on March 3, 2020 — local voters will be heading to the polls, and those in District 2 will now have a competitive race to decide who represents a large portion of the Merced area on the county leadership level.

“I believe we need a supervisor with a track record of getting things done,” Pedrozo told a crowd of supporters, along with local media members. “We need a supervisor that will be a partner with the city of Merced, as well as other stakeholders in the community, so we can get things done for those we represent.”

Pedrozo is just coming off an impressive two-term, nine-year run on the City Council. When he was first elected to the council, he was the second youngest person ever elected to the position. Now at age 36, he will face first-term Supervisor Lee Lor, who was also a political newcomer when she defeated Supervisor Hub Walsh in 2016. Pedrozo also ran for mayor of Merced in 2016, but lost to Mike Murphy in his first run for the top office.

As a Merced High School teacher, and a local leader for the past decade, Pedrozo’s resume has grown considerably over the past decade.

“My life has always been about service and helping others,” he said, “as a teacher helping to shape our future leaders, and as a City Council member helping to giving back to the community that I was born and raised in.”

During his time in office, Pedrozo fiercely advocated for funding for the Campus Parkway extension — an expressway from Highway 99 to UC Merced — along with commercial development on the route. He made trips to both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. for the local cause. He called the project a symbol of Merced County’s potential for growth and economic development.

Other issues that bridge city and county issues for Pedrozo include: working with the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority to extend the ACE Train to Merced, slashing local business fees by up to 50 percent in most cases, signing county-city revenue sharing agreements, growing partnerships with UC Merced, establishing a downtown Merced entertainment district, and brainstorming the end of homelessness in the region — something Pedrozo calls one of the county’s most pressing issues.

Pedrozo said he started out on the council during an economic crisis and foreclosure mess, but the overall budget was always balanced. His focus was on preventing job losses and stimulating economic growth in an environment of transparency and collaboration. Merced’s unemployment rates are now at their lowest in five years.

“As a supervisor, I will work the sheriff, our district attorney, and the city to ensure residents feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods,” the candidate said. “I will continue the work I did on the Merced City Council to ensure a business friendly environment in our county so we can attract and keep good paying jobs for our working families. I will continue to work on transportation solutions to make our roads safer and commutes faster so we can spend more time with our families.

“The residents of District 2 deserve a supervisor who will put their needs before ego, someone who will rolls up sleeves and works with others in crafting solutions.”

Pedrozo did not comment directly about his opponent in the upcoming race, but did say there have been “gaps” in communication and the otherwise healthy relationship between the city and county over the past couple of years, and also within collaborative projects the county is involved in with regard to transportation.

The Pedrozo name, of course, has been known on the county level in recent years. Josh Pedrozo’s father, John Pedrozo, served three terms as a county supervisor.

However, Pedrozo told the Times, his decision to run was his, along with the support of his wife, Heidi. They have two children, Owen, 7, and Lucy, 2.

On Monday, Pedrozo was introduced by a former Merced High School student, Riki Walter, who said she was a troubled teen before she met “Mr. Pedrozo” who helped turn her life around by getting her engaged in school work as well as civic activity.

“I remember watching him listen to constituents with such intense focus and concern, and thinking to myself, ‘Wow,’ he really cares about Merced,’” Walter said.

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