KINGSBURG, California (KGPE) – One of the youngest women to be elected on a city council in California represents a district right here in the Central Valley.
“I decided to run for city council because its time we have representation from somebody who lives on the opposite side of the tracks,” said 20-year-old Jewel Hurtado in a campaign video from 2018.
Months later, she would become a Kingsburg District 1 representative on the city council.
From the moment she launched her city council campaign she knew she had to work extra hard to be taken serious, being a young, single, Latina mother with no college degree.
“I was running against an incumbent and (also) a younger man, I knew I had to prove something so I had to work 10 times harder,” said Hurtado.
With her baby Anthony on her hip, she went door to door, connecting with the Kingsburg community, a place she has called home her whole life. Her baby Anthony fell ill a week before Election Day. She found herself spending days between hospitals with him. At that time, winning the election seemed out of reach, until the votes came in.
“At this point I had lost hope and I pressed refresh and I will never forget that moment, its literally the moment my life changed other than having a baby,” said Hurtado.
She won by eight votes but admits the reaction from the public wasn’t entirely positive.
“The day I was elected and when the news broke a young mother, who wasn’t married yet, who does not have a college degree yet is sitting there and people voted for her to be there? And she only won by eight votes? It must have been rigged,” said Hurtado.
A day before she was sworn in, she received an encouraging message from one of her role models, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Congrats, congrats on winning your race, 8 votes, my god that tells you how important each and every single person you touch is and so I wish you best of luck in your upcoming term and an amazing career ahead,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a video to Hurtado.
“She was somebody I was so inspired by just from the second she launched her campaign video. I mean she looks like me!” said Hurtado.
If raising her child and holding a public office wasn’t enough, she is also finishing her sociology degree at Fresno City College with the hopes of transferring to Fresno State this Spring.
“Higher education is so important and I think a lot of young people think if there’s obstacles in front of you you might as well just go to work and it’s easier and just bring money home for the family but for me it’s like yeah there’s obstacles in front of me but look at the resources we have and I want so many other young people to take advantage of that,” said Hurtado.
Though her future is not set in stone, one thing she does know is she won’t let anyone put her in a box.
“I feel like a lot of people think oh well you’re a mom and that’s it. No, you can do so much… believe me!” said Hurtado.