Alex Gallardo Jr. is back on the ballot this year for his second attempt at a Merced City Council seat, two years after an unsuccessful run.
His first attempt in 2011 came about after his daughter asked him to give it a go. His child was asking why the places she like to go, such as Chuck E. Cheese’s, weren’t in Merced.
“ ‘How can you do something to help, Dad?’” he said, recounting what his daughter asked. “This time, I learned what to and what not to do.”
With that in mind, Gallardo said his top priority is Merced’s young people. He said he would approach business owners for donations so the city can make recreational activities for youth cheaper.
He said that method would help him to raise the money to bring in more soccer pitches. Someone might be willing to donate land, he said.
“I’m very persuasive,” he said.
Gallardo touts his time at Venture Academy, a charter school in Stockton where he was a teacher and started the athletic program. Within three years the school fielded six athletic teams, he said.
As for economic development, Gallardo said beautifying Merced and building up the city’s image would go a long way toward attracting development.
Working with Merced College and UC Merced students who want to start businesses would benefit development as well, he said.
“Why don’t we use our own resources, and maybe, just maybe, we could start there?” Gallardo asked.
Gallardo said he thought about dropping out of this year’s City Council race, but said he wants the job.
“I had a conversation with my grandma on the phone, asking her, ‘What do you think I should do?’” the 37-year-old said. “She (asked), ‘What are you, a quitter?’”
Gallardo said he decided to stay in the race. After staying largely out of the public eye, he reappeared on the campaign trail Oct. 22, the night of a youth forum for candidates.
Before that, he had missed some prominent debates, such as the League of Women Voters forum on Oct. 3. Although he is busy and may have wavered momentarily, Gallardo contends, he is serious about running.
“I look at it like this,” he said, “How much is it going to set me back timewise to help Merced? Not that much.”
Gallardo said he grew up in Merced, and graduated from Merced High in 1994. He said he now splits time between his home in Los Angeles, and his sister’s home in Merced. He remembers wanting to run for office as a youngster, he said.
“I wanted to be an elected official at the age of 8,” he said. “It didn’t matter what kind, that was my dream.”
Gallardo said he earned a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and that he’s an educator at Stallworth Charter School in Stockton.
He wants to enroll in law school, he said, and does standup comedy as a hobby in Las Vegas.
Gallardo said he knows what it’s like to search for work in town, and he wants to make it easier for people in that situation.
“I guess I’m a little frustrated with the way things are in Merced,” he said, adding he has the skills to develop jobs. “I care enough to do this.”