Six months out of UCLA, Mathew Serratto accepted a job as attorney in Merced and has spent the past nine years of his life working here. Going into public service wasn’t always in the cards. “The DA’s office is the front line in a lot of things like crime and homelessness, drug addiction, mental health, poverty, you see up firsthand.” Seeing all this, he knew he could make a difference, and set out to do so. Serratto wants to be in the city council in order to change its legislative policy. Specifically, he wants to represent District 5, the place he has called home for years.
Serratto is an advocate for the VIPER program, which will be funded by a three year grant worth four and a half million dollars. The program is broken into two parts. The first focuses on predictive policing. Two analysts will be hired to shift through data looking for crime patterns. Serratto believes, “75-80 of people in gangs are hanger-ons, they’re not the ones driving around looking for people to shoot all the time. After that distinction is made [whether a gang member is a perpetrator or not], two to four counselors will be talking to the people just ‘hanging around’, try and get them on the right track.” That is the second part of the VIPER program.
Photo Credit: Merced Sun Star
Along with the VIPER program, “I’d love to see police reestablish themselves. How it will happen exactly depends on the resources available…our district used to have, before the financial crisis, a police station just north to us.” More than anything, if elected he wants to leave behind improvements in public safety, as well as to try and preserve the neighborhood. “In many ways, District 5 is the heart of Merced.” District 5 contains the Merced Mall, Walmart, Best Buy, and many other big retail stores, making it a crucial part of the city and its growth.
There are growing problems within Merced, and in District 5, Serratto would like to address them. Homeless have taken over parks, and a few people feel the homeless commit most of the petty crime. Most of the folks are pretty harmless, but there are cases. “If we give them help, get a roof under their head, it’ll be good for everyone.” It will cost the taxpayers money, but they can help save or change another’s life. Another problem would be the empty buildings in Merced’s downtown. By promoting smart growth, the city can renovate and use old buildings before building new ones. This is referred to as infill development, and will save the city money.
A big problem for the city of Merced is the distance between it and UC Merced. Due to transportation issues and the physical location of the campus, UC Merced is largely isolated. Serratto wants the city to grow with the UC, much like the city of Davis grew around UC Davis. An innovation fund to invest in small businesses and a focus on UC Merced will help the city itself, and District 5, a hub for students, grow.
In terms of his personal campaigns, he has an army of volunteers behind him that have helped him raise around fifteen thousand dollars. Aside from that, Matt Serratto has gone door to door within his district introducing himself and letting his constituents know he is there for them. When asked about his opponent, Serratto answered, “I don’t know much about him, I’m doing my own thing for the most part and focusing on getting my message to the voters.” Matt has been endorsed by many people and organizations, foremost among them the Merced Democratic party and Merced Police Officer’s Association.
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