Watsonville city council
The Watsonville City Council during a meeting in 2022. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian file

WATSONVILLE—Kristal Salcido says that she had for months planned to spend the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election walking door-to-door throughout Watsonville’s Fourth District to drum up support for her city council run.

On Wednesday, Salcido received the news that whether or not she decided to follow through on those plans, the Santa Cruz County Assistant District Attorney will walk into office later this year.

Salcido is one of three candidates for Watsonville City Council that will assume office after the November election because they are running unopposed. Maria Orozco, a current Pajaro Valley Unified School District Trustee, will not face a challenger in District 3, and Casey Clark, a longtime community volunteer, is also running without an opponent in District 5.

The District 7 seat is the lone office that will feature more than one candidate in November. Incumbent and current mayor Ari Parker is facing off with former mayor Nancy Bilicich.

Salcido says that she still plans to do plenty of door-knocking over the next two months, even if she is not facing a challenger.

“It’s a huge honor and responsibility to be a steward of your community and it’s one that I take incredibly seriously,” Salcido said Wednesday. “Nothing has changed for me in terms of my campaign outreach … I think it’s really important that everyone, who I can reasonably reach, has an opportunity to meet me and to get to know me.”

Candidates running unopposed for local office is nothing new. This is especially true in Watsonville, which has for years struggled to get its residents involved in the local political process and largely cycled through seasoned politicians over the past two decades or so. Still, the upcoming November election will mark the first time that three or more city council seats will go unopposed since the 2012 election saw four candidates run without opposition.

Salcido, a relative newcomer to Watsonville’s political scene who will be mayor during her final year on the council, said she was surprised that more candidates did not step forward.

“You always hope that there are people who want to participate in government and community local politics,” Salcido said. “Nothing is changing for me in terms of what I’m going to do with the community, but I do hope that members of the community want to participate in our local elections and I would encourage it.”

Few people stepped forward to run for the PVUSD Board of Trustees, too. Area IV Trustee Daniel Dodge Jr. and Area VII Trustee Jennifer Holm were appointed in lieu of an election and will serve another four-year term on the board.

But Area I Trustee Kim De Serpa, who has served on the board since 2010—thrice as President—will face off against newcomer Natalain Schwartz, who pulled her papers just as the Aug. 12 deadline closed. 

De Serpa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who serves as Manager of Social Services for the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.

Schwartz is a landscape designer who has run her own eponymous business for nearly four decades. Her LinkedIn page also lists her as a farmer and instructor.

Area V Trustee Jennifer Schacher, who was elected in 2018, has described herself as an “active mom” who volunteered in her kids’ classrooms. She has also volunteered with the Watsonville Police Activities League, where she has taught science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Schacher will face off against Olivia Flores, who works as Chief Financial Officer for Watsonville-based Flores Construction, Inc.

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