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Economic concerns are quickly becoming the most important issue of the South Gate city council election.
The candidates, South Gate Mayor Bill De Witt, Vice-Mayor Gil Hurtado and Rick Reyes, have all mentioned the importance of revitalizing the local economy as an issue that needs to be dealt with in 2013.
Reyes, 32, a former marine and 15-year resident of South Gate, sat down with Patch at his campaign headquarters in California Avenue to discuss the reasons why voters should give him a chance on March 5th.
“What I want to do is help bring quality jobs,” said Reyes. “To bring back some of the manufacturing that was once so abundant.”
Reyes told Patch that if elected he would work with trade organizations to establish the right conditions as well as training programs to foster the growth of this sector.
“The jobs are there, but we don’t have a trained work force,” said Reyes. “South Gate has not created the environment that brings those trades back.”
Reyes currently works as a political coordinator for the Service Employees International Union. He is also in the process of establishing a South Gate based solar installation company.
Prior to this, Reyes was a marine for 8 years, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After his return Reyes worked for a while as mortgage loan officer, an activity that inspired him to become engaged.
“I saw how families that did all the right things were affected by the 2008 crisis,” said Reyes. “I decided to get engaged.”
During the interview Reyes also told Patch that he did not approve of the financial agreement that was made between South Gate and Primestor, the Azalea Retail Project developer.
“I think we could have done a much better job at negotiating the deal,” said Reyes. “I would have fought hard to bring a better deal.”
The former marine also expressed concern about the effects of having a Walmart at the shopping center. Categorizing the retail giant as a job “displacer” and not “creator.”
Finally, Reyes is optimistic about his chances of winning in March, despite the fact that he is facing two of South Gate’s most experienced politicians.
“If [South Gate] wants new leadership on the council I will answer that call,” concluded Reyes.
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