Daniel Sabzehzar came to Merced four years ago on the back of a volleyball scholarship. Since then he’s done a lot. The student athlete has represented his home nation of El Salvador in international matches, is the owner of his own marketing agency, and is now running for city council at the age of twenty one years old. He never planned on politics but life led him down this path. He always wanted to be a doctor until he realized that the children and adults that he’d be helping would keep on returning; the patients can’t do anything about their situation in life. Hence, being a city councilman. He chose to run for council in the district he lives in, District 5. “My tentative plan is to do the UC Merced program spend my classroom years here and Davis, and get my clinical years at the hospital I worked at growing up, and then ideally do my residency here at Mercy [Hospital]. I would be focused for the four years on the city council. I’m 21. It’s a long time before I need to worry about my future.”
In regards to previous work experience, Sabzehzar claims, “My entire life constitutes as previous work experience.” He’s worked for CITIRS-The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, as well as a fellowship to study community and economic development across Europe, from Copenhagen, Denmark to Southern Italy. “This is the amalgamation of everything I’ve already done.”
Photo Credit: Merced Sun Star
When it comes to the issues at hand, Sabzehzar has a clear vision. “We have high crime rate. We can continue to spend on crime like my opponent thinks we should…one of the most successful approaches to successfully mitigating crime [is] economic development.” When told a story about a UC Merced student whose home was broken into, Sabzehzar responded, “My opponent’s response was probably to say the [police] substation needs to be put back. He’s wrong. Police don’t prevent crime…it breaks my heart that it’s easier to get a job as a corrections officer over a job as a teacher. It’s a reflection of our society. To invest on crime and jail over education and jobs.” He feels the problem lies with disconnected youth. They aren’t working or going to school, leaving a group of sixteen to twenty four year-olds loitering around town with nothing to do. He remembers a young man he met. The young man that wants to be a graphic designer. The young man had nothing to do, no references, no help, even though Merced High School and Merced College both have programs for this. The goal is to streamline, to make the healthy option the easy option.
In order to help economic development, Sabzehzar is counting on big farms in Merced County funding a hopefully seven figure innovation fund to help small businesses grow. He also has a plan to help with Merced’s growing housing problem. Rent has gone up everywhere, with less than 1% vacancy. Unlike Berkeley however, Merced room to build. “We need to be careful to not take focus away from infill development. Implementing rent control right now would really deter development. We need to have a good relationship with equitable developers.” His caution has to do with previous developers that left before finishing their projects years ago, particularly around Bellevue.
Sabzehzar feels, “UC Merced is going to be the engine of redevelopment. As I said, UC Berkeley built Silicon Valley, and it is UC Merced that will redefine the San Joaquin Valley, but the 11 years it’s been here, UC Merced has been largely distant. A member of the local and campus community is needed.” And behind him are at least fifty volunteers who have helped him fund-raise over eight thousand dollars.
Visit Daniel’s website here.
Feature Photo Credit: http://www.sabzehzar4council.com