Monica Villa, whose struggles in Merced's homeless camps have been well documented over the past two years, is running for Merced City Council.
Villa, 57, is an Atwater native who has lived at several of the homeless camps that materialized in Merced in recent years, most recently at Sierra Presbyterian Church. She maintains she's homeless by choice and has become a regular attender at city council meetings.
She's also the organizer of the "Out of the Darkness" suicide awareness and prevention walk, first held in 2008. She says she made it her life's mission to prevent suicides after her 25-year-old son took his own life five years ago.