WASCO, Calif. (KERO) — In honor of Pride Month, 23ABC wanted to share the story of one local elected official striving to make a difference in his community while holding another significant title.
"Growing up never really seen this for myself, right? I never thought I could be a gay, Latino elected official in conservative rural Kern County."
That thought turned into reality for Wasco Mayor Alex Garcia. He was first appointed mayor in 2019 after serving in the city council for three years. Now he represents several groups in his leadership position.
"Being a part of the LGBT community is only one community I'm a part of. I also represent a community of rural families, a community of farmworkers, a community of young people, so anytime that a community has representation at this level or beyond is something to celebrate and recognize."
And he believes his role is something to look up to.
"Now, being in this position myself, I take that responsibility not lightly. It's important that I set an example for not only other young people but other young residents in our community."
Covering Kern County
Wasco Mayor Alex Garcia discussed Pride flag decision
But Garcia says it's essential for everyone to come together to drive change, including before and after Pride Month.
“We're your neighbors, we're your friends, and we're your family, and we're a part of this community just as much as you are. So we are here to celebrate that this month, but also recognize the contributions it's taking to arrive at this point."
Garcia adds that he will make sure that he leaves a long-lasting impact in Kern County.
"I have a responsibility to other young people to signal to them that hey 'yea, I was the first LGBT mayor or the first LGBT elected in Kern County, or the first openly elected official in Kern County,' but the important message is that I'm not the last."
Garcia also says not to forget that this month is a time to pay homage to the past and look bright-eyed to the future for the work still to be done.