The latest two contestants for the Merced City Council race include a former gang member who spent years counseling young people away from gang life, and a former city councilman and advocate of South Merced.
Samuel Rangel, 38, left the gang life in his 20s and eventually started New Hope Merced, a faith-based nonprofit focusing on the rehabilitation of gang members. He also worked for the county as an alcohol and drug counselor. He also published a book in 2009 about his approach to gang rehabilitation. (Read more here.)
Carl Pollard, first appointed to the city council to fill a vacant seat in 2005, served until 2007. Pollard is an unrelenting advocate of South Merced, calling himself "The People's Councilman" during his 2007 campaign. Pollard said in recent letters-to-the-editor that he supports the Wal-Mart distribution center and wants Merced to focus on attracting jobs. "Because we are losing jobs and not attracting new jobs, we are not growing the economy. We need to put our focus, not on raising taxes, but rather on attracting new businesses," he wrote.