Charles Bolin didn't want to sit around the sidelines and watch as the city in which he was born fell into a "spiral downhill."
"I talk to all these people and I look at all the problems in our area, they are government- related problems," he said.
People, he said, feel as though they have nobody to whom they can complain.
They can complain to him. Bolin, who at 25 years old is the youngest candidate running for Merced City Council, wants to do something for the community.
Bolin said he's impartial and has nothing to gain from running for council.
"I'm common sense," he said, adding that he is taking a break from Merced College to run for office.
His priorities would be to pay close attention to city projects and investigate concerns from his constituents.
"I'd hold people accountable. I'm not lazy," said Bolin, who was born in a Dodge Dart in the parking lot of the old hospital on East 13th Street. "When someone brings an issue to me, citizens and city staff, I'm going to look into it."
Bolin, who works as a security officer at a security firm in Atwater, wants to make sure items that come before him are understandable to the average citizen.
He said he needs to look at the city budget more than he's done in the past. And that there needs to be micromanaging of the budget.
"Make as many cuts as we can possibly make," he said, adding that officials should look at everything from what vehicles the city is using to what toilet paper is being used.
"I'd like to say I hope it can be done without cutting anybody's job. Have to be honest; from what I've seen in the budget, it's already tight," Bolin said.
He believes the city can charge less for development fees and ease up on the burdens that affect residents' daily lives. And he said the city should audit its fees, such as development and impact levies.
"We need to see to it that it's appropriately adjusted and in line with our local economy," said Bolin, who thinks the city needs to quit working on projected revenues when it comes to the budget. Instead, the budget should be based on what's in the bank instead of what's expected. And, he said, police and fire numbers shouldn't be cut.
"We need to look and see what we're paying people and if it's in line with what people are making in the area," he said.
Bolin believes everything needs to be looked at for city employees, such as health care and benefits, and expects tough choices will have to be made.
For now, Bolin is trying to stay out of City Hall as much as possible. He doesn't want to be labeled a "politician."
"I want the people to know me," he said. "When it comes to elected office, forget the roles, you're there to represent the people who put you in the office."
He's worked five years for the security company, taken emergency medical technician courses at Merced College, sold cars, performed maintenance work and even worked in tourism for a while.
He said he's honest, hardworking and represents residents in Merced trying to make it day to day. There isn't that representation on the council, he said.
"If we get the right people in office, Merced will improve drastically because we realize we won't have to be like the rest of the country or state or county," Bolin said. "I see a community where families can grow without being afraid their kid is going to be pulled into a gang or fall under the influence of drugs and alcohol."
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.