“I am the first Afro-Latina to run for the Montebello City Council," Joella Valdez told La Opinion, but immediately rectified that "in fact, I am the first Afro-Latina to seek an elected position from Montebello." Entrepreneur, consultant, mother of a family, Valdez wants to “actively represent the communities of color in Montebello”, where the majority of the population is Latino immigrant, “and of course to represent women”.
Her maternal grandmother was the first to leave Central America to come to Los Angeles to work. She spoke English from her native Belize. Eventually, the grandmother brought the aspiring councilwoman's mother to California, and her father later arrived, when he was just 16 years old. Joella Valdez was born in Los Angeles but for more than two decades, her family has lived in Montebello; She is Afro-Latina and an Angeleno.
She reflects that she is running "in the most difficult moment in recent history due to the political climate our country is experiencing," and she feels strongly motivated to serve and represent the community.
“For the past 15 years, I have worked in government affairs, in the areas of infrastructure building, economic growth and social development” and this is part of what she offers the Montebello community as a potential civil servant.
Joella Valdez studied and graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) as a professional, she was hired first in Madrid, Spain, and then in Santiago de Chile in her specialty.
During that decade and a half in which she worked for foreign governments, her family and friends invited her to "do the same to help my own community." Those requests were effective and “for the past three to four years I have been an advocate for my neighborhood” in Montebello, she said proudly. Based on her experience, she focuses on specific plans that help the community, such as the ACE Project, or the Alameda Corridor East Project, which includes a [train] underpass that will alleviate traffic congestion and rail noise pollution. "As a Montebello resident, I want this project to be done well, for the benefit of the community," she explained. Projects like that, she believes, are important “if we want to make Montebello a more attractive investment destination.”
She thinks that the experience of a neighboring city can be an example that applies to Montebello for the economic development that is needed today.
“There was a time when our neighbors, in Pico Rivera, were in trouble and Montebello was progressing, but now [the opposite] to be the case. If you drive down Whittier Boulevard you see a lot of empty stores,” she lamented.
For her experience in economic development and infrastructure, she noted that in 2016 Pico Rivera was recognized "as the most business-friendly city, and they did so under the leadership of the then city administrator, René Bobadilla." And it happens that "now René Bobadilla is the [City Manager] of Montebello," she commented, so there is a key official to promote the city. “As an elected official I would like to see [the city] implement some of the measures that led to Pico Rivera's success, see what worked, and try to implement those ideas in a way that works for Montebello,” Valdez stated. A first measure would be "to reduce bureaucracy to make it easier for businesses to set up shop in Montebello."
Mother of a small girl, the Afro-Latina candidate synthesized her electoral campaign platform in three points."At the national level we believe that [a living wage] is needed and that no human being is illegal, but that is national policy," explained the applicant, "when it comes to Montebello I want [upcoming] projects to be done well, to respond to the local concerns and where I can apply my experience ”.
The first project is the ACE Corridor, because "it will improve traffic flow, it will improve emergency response and it will improve the safety at train crossings." It is the underpass that will permit vehicles to not have to be blocked by the train tracks or try to gain their way.
Her platform also includes public safety, and in this Joella Valdez [and her running mate are] the only candidate[s] who [are] endorsed by the Montebello Police Officers Association.
And its third platform point is local economic development.
Manuel Ocaño / Especial para La Opinión 11 October 2020
"Joella Valdez wants to make history in the city of Montebello"