Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of interviews with candidates running for the Watsonville City Council.

WATSONVILLE — Incumbent Rebecca Garcia is facing off against challenger Casey Clark in the District 5 race in November.

District 5 stretches from the intersection of East Lake and Brewington avenues to the east to most of Clifford Avenue and Pennsylvania Drive to the west, including Auto Center Drive and surrounding neighborhoods.


Rebecca Garcia

Longtime educator Rebecca Garcia is seeking to keep her District 5 seat on the Watsonville City Council in November, after being elected to the post in 2014.

“I have a love for Watsonville,” she said. “I am successful because of the resources and programs that were offered to me. I want to make sure all our residents have that opportunity as well.”

Born and raised in Watsonville, Garcia graduated from Watsonville High School in 1965. She earned an associate’s degree in bilingual and bicultural studies from Cabrillo College, then transferred to UC Santa Cruz and graduated with a bachelor’s in politics as well as a teaching credential.

She later attended San Jose State University, where she received her master’s in education administration.

Garcia served as a teacher at what was then known as Rolling Hills Junior High and Watsonville High School, eventually working her way up to assistant principal at the high school and later principal at Rolling Hills Middle School.

She ended a 20-year tenure on the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees in January 2012.

Garcia’s political involvement has spanned for 30 years, when she joined the fight in 1988 that resulted in Watsonville’s current district election system. The case Dolores Cruz Gomez v. the City of Watsonville, which made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, ended at-large elections and allowed voters in the city’s seven districts to choose their own representative.

Since being elected in 2014, Garcia said she has brought issues to the council regarding climate change, human trafficking, housing affordability and reaffirming Watsonville’s sanctuary city status, among other things.

She also helped form the Summer in the City Internship Program, where high school students spend three weeks working in city government, and spearheaded a number of community meetings on traffic and youth violence.

In October, she will present a district meeting on Watsonville’s three affordable housing programs.

“Leadership at the district level and for the city at large is what is needed to be a successful city council member,” Garcia said. “I believe I have provided that leadership.”

She said more work remains for her next term if re-elected, including providing safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians, capital improvements such as replacing aging water lines, and tackling rising pension costs.

Looking to the future, Garcia praised new City Manager Matt Huffaker, saying she believes he “will lead us in resolving these issues.”

“I look forward to continuing to represent District 5 on the city council,” she said.


Casey Clark

Watsonville is currently in the midst of another growth, with people relocating to the city from other areas of the county, said Casey Clark, who is running for the District 5 seat on the Watsonville City Council.

With a number of housing projects either under construction or in the planning process, Clark said the city needs to be smart about its growth, looking at how issues such as water, traffic and tax revenue will affect the city in the long run.

If elected to the council, Clark said he would look at things “logically,” while playing devil’s advocate at times.

“I’m an avid believer that if you aren’t growing, you’re dead,” he said. “I really want to push smart growth and foresight. How is this going to affect us in the end?”

Although he has lived in city limits since February, Clark said he is no stranger to Watsonville. While residing in the Day Valley area of Aptos for the past 13 years, he said he did all of his shopping in Watsonville, and got to know the residents in the community, adding that he has a “great relationship with the majority of the council already, and some of the people who are running for council as well.”

Clark has worked with the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation, and is also the former co-chair for the education department at the fairgrounds. He is currently recording secretary for Sons and Daughters of Italy, Lodge #2016, and was recently appointed to the Watsonville Personnel Commission.

Clark graduated from Monte Vista Christian School in 2001, and studied general education at Cabrillo College. He then went into real estate, and for a time was managing properties from Paso Robles to Sacramento, including Vista Montana Apartments in Watsonville.

After leaving property management, Clark moved into the residential care industry, working his way up from an aide to now managing a facility for adults with special needs.

It turned out to be a good move, as Clark said his family has a history of special needs, and his mother has a doctorate in special education.

“I absolutely love what I do,” he said. “Adults are so awesome.”

Clark said he wants to tackle mental health issues in Watsonville, while also addressing homelessness. Noting that it is not just an issue in the city, but also in the county and state, Clark said the city needs to determine what it can do to alleviate the problem and work together.

“I want to advocate for people who cannot advocate for themselves,” he said.

If elected, Clark said he will be approachable, while also allowing residents and businesses to feel welcomed and listened to.

“I have always been involved in the background for politics, and I’ve always been very comfortable in the political world,” he said. “I never strived to be in the spotlight, but I’m not afraid of it either. I feel it is the move to make.”

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