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A closer look at District 16 candidate Melissa Hurtado

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Posted at 9:54 AM, Nov 03, 2022

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — The midterm elections are now five days away and we at 23ABC continue to break down a fierce battle in the state Senate. Democratic Senator Melissa Hurtado, formerly of District 14, has moved into the newly redrawn District 16, where she's facing GOP newcomer David Shepard.

Hurtado told 23ABC that the voting lines may have changed, but the issues facing Central Valley residents have not.

"I'm excited, a little bit nervous to be honest with you. We've knocked on 18,000 doors."

Senator Melissa Hurtado is not the incumbent this year. Technically, due to redistricting, the leader of District 14 now finds herself campaigning in District 16, which she said is practically identical.

"Overall, this drought and water availability, access to quality healthcare continues to be an issue in this region," said Hurtado about the similarities. "So yes, the issues continue to be the same."

The Hurtado campaign recently announced the acquisition of $465 million from the state budget for a variety of projects in the Central Valley, including $56 million for police and fire investments in nearly a dozen cities.

"Public safety and investing in the infrastructure of our public safety is something that, from my time on the city council, I understood. We wanted to do more and provide more and have adequate tools and facilities for our officers that are on the front line and keeping us safe."

As for the barrage of negative campaign ads flooding the airwaves, Hurtado said voters need to separate the good from the bad.

"There's a lot of information out there and you have the ability to get the factual information yourself. Sometimes you just have to move the noise away and focus in and follow your heart."

Hurtado also took issue with her opponent David Sheppard's claim that the Latino voting base is starting to trend "conservative."

"I feel confident that I have won over the Latino hearts from the Senate district."

Despite finishing second in the primaries, Hurtado is hoping a large turnout on election day will carry her to a second term.

Hurtado was the youngest woman ever elected to the state Senate in 2018 at the age of 30. If GOP challenger David Shepard wins, he would become the youngest person elected to the state senate. Shepard is 29.