By Viking Voice Editor Kelsey Olson
On Dec. 5th, 2019, Jewel Hurtado, 20, went down in Kingsburg history as one of the youngest female council members to serve in the position. Hurtado was voted in to represent District 1 in the November 2018 election.
Hurtado graduated from KHS in 2017 and began her political career a year later when she announced her campaign on July 19th, 2018.
Though Hurtado was excited by the win, there were many people and hours of hard work that helped to secure her campaign’s victory.
Before the race for Kingsburg City Council started, there were many moments when Hurtado felt the call to politics. Her first big introduction to the political arena was when she was appointed to the Community Service Commission by Mayor Michelle Roman. It was in that position that Hurtado advised the Kingsburg City Council regarding Parks and Recreational events in town. She also helped plan and organize those events.
While running for office, Hurtado described her experience as “surreal” because of the fact that she had to ask former teachers and long-time neighbors to vote for her. Her campaign also had to maneuver several obstacles, from people stealing lawn signs to some community members who dismissed her bid to win the election, assumably because of Hurtado’s inexperience and age.
“It was incredibly surreal. Asking former teachers and long-time neighbors to vote for me to represent them was crazy. There were many obstacles. From people not taking me seriously to people stealing my lawn signs, nevertheless we persisted,” added Hurtado.
At the beginning of the campaign, candidates were asked to choose three words which described them for their ballot designation. Hurtado choose to simply list the word “mother.” It is a distinction Hurtado is proud of and she also understands the importance of representing the numerous hours and important roles mothers have in our community.
In her race for a council seat, Hurtado’s opponents were Staci Smith and Nathan Williams. Hurtado secured a win by a very narrow margin–just 8 votes–to become the city’s youngest Councilmember.
In fact, the victory was so notable that the day before she was sworn in she received a special video message from newly elected 29-year-old New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC expressed her congratulations to Hurtado and noted how proud she was of her.
Even though her campaign was long and difficult, Hurtado’s drive to be politically active and civically engaged pushed her to win.
Hurtado remarked that her interests in politics was apparent early in her academic career. During her junior and senior years of high school, she was very involved with student government. Her senior year she was elected ASB Commissioner of Publicity. Her peers also recognized her with the distinction of Homecoming Queen.
Though winning office was important, the experience of campaigning for office in high school was what really drew her into politics.
“Learning to work with my peers and make decisions was what pushed me to run for office. It ultimately taught me how important it is to get along well with others and govern fairly,” commented Hurtado.
Hurtado also found herself inspired in her Civics/Econ class taught by Social Science teacher Dina Siebenaler. In the class, Hurtado learned the importance of civic duty and education.
“I think Jewel’s dedication to public service and interest in policy is admirable. When she was my student she was always interested in current events and volunteered for local civic opportunities. She is obviously a person with a deep commitment to her community, state and country with a particular passion for the rights of the underserved,” Siebenaler stated.
“She is starting her public service career very young with a lot of ideas and a ton of energy!” added Siebenaler.
Since high school graduation, Hurtado enrolled at Fresno City College and is currently studying to get her degree in Political Science and planning to transfer to Fresno State University to complete her degree.
Along with a busy school schedule, she also is raising her infant son.
“I wake up, feed the baby, and then clean up. After that I let the baby crawl around as I begin my school work. Once I’m done with some work, I answer emails and go to any meetings or appointments I have that day. Then I have dinner and family time in the evening. Days in my week vary, but I do have a very busy schedule,” commented Hurtado.
Even with this busy schedule, Hurtado has clear goals when it comes to her holding office. Her goals include keeping Kingsburg citizens safe, getting kids involved with Youth Council with the Mayor, bridging the communication gap between residents and the council, and being a voice for all the people of Kingsburg.
Recent KHS Graduate and Councilwoman Jewel Hurtado will continue to be an example of what hard work, dedication, and perseverance can achieve. She will also continue to be an example for any young person looking to make a difference in their community.
“I want the students at KHS to know to never let anyone tell you your dreams are impossible. Stand up and speak out for what you believe in. You are never too young to make a difference.”