In the first episode of our Meet Your Mayor podcast, we sit down with Tilo Cortez, mayor of the City of Wasco, to hear how his community is handling the pandemic.
Topics discussed in this episode range from changes due to COVID-19, happenings around town, what's happening with the High-Speed Rail, and what it's like living in Wasco.
We also get to hear more about the man Wasco calls mayor.
Cortez was born and raised in Wasco, back in what he calls the “Swiss Cheese Hospital,” a hospital that was known to locals for having a pillar in the front with a Swiss cheese pattern.
Wasco is located in the Northwest region of Kern County, with a population of approximately 27,500. With that number of people walking the streets, Cortez said it’s not hard to know what’s going on around.
“We’re a tight-knit community,” Cortez said.
This certain aspect has its ups and downs according to Cortez. As a city official and civil servant, he said it takes a lot of effort to try to keep something under wraps, good or bad. Often in Wasco, the source of the information is only a few minutes away.
"I love the fact that everyone here knows most everybody. We went to school together, or we went with a cousin, a sister, We are a tight-knit community where pretty much everyone knows everyone."
A prime example was the city’s annual fireworks celebration.
Due to COVID-19, the city couldn’t hold its usual fireworks celebration, but that didn’t stop local organizations and leaders from bringing some joy and excitement to the community during this difficult time.
A local non-profit, the Orange Heart Foundation, teamed up with local leaders to bring a city-wide fireworks show.
More recently, the city held its Annual Rose Queen Pageant virtually, with the former Rose Queen crowning the new queen.
Even locals are doing their part, with one Wasco High School graduate starting the group “Tigers Give” to help spread kindness throughout the community.
While the community comes together to help, the city still finds itself struggling to manage the many hurdles hitting them this year.
According to Kern County Public Health, the City of Wasco has around 1,577 COVID-19 cases. Out of those, 591 cases are recovered and 196 are presumed recovered.
Another issue the city has been facing since even before the pandemic is the High-Speed Rail, something Cortez said the city is not completely on board with.
With the pandemic and the High-Speed Rail weighing on the shoulders of only six people, Cortez said managing the other issue that comes up within the city has become harder and harder. But its a struggle he’s happy to take on.
“I made a commitment to the residents of Wasco and I'm meeting it,” he said. “So we’re going to be available, my door is always open.”