In early December, Virginia Gurrola threw her hat into the ring as a contender for the Fifth District seat on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.
Gurrola, a Porterville city council member, faces off in the June 3 election against two-term incumbent Mike Ennis and recent entry Felipe Martinez, both Porterville residents. If any single candidate does not receive a simple majority of the vote, the top two would face each other in a November runoff.
Gurrola served on the council from 1995-2003, and was re-elected to the city’s council in 2012 and served as mayor for roughly three months. She is also a retired employee at Porterville College, having served as its director of Financial Aid/Admissions and Records.
She previously ran for State Assembly, once in 2000 and again in 2002. She originally ran for Porterville’s city council, she said, by chance – as the adviser to MEChA, her students wanted to see the political process, and suggested she run, winning the election and later serving as the city’s mayor in 2000.
She wants to run for the supervisorial position, she joked, because she’s “not getting any younger,” and would be satisfied with the position as a final destination.
“If there’s a barrier there, you can find your way around it. You will find your way through it with God’s help,” she said.
She’s taking that philosophy forward in the upcoming election; while an election against an incumbent is usually an uphill battle, she says she’s ready for the challenge, and that her willingness to work with others and her accessibility set her apart.
“I engage with people. When I’m serving in an elected position, I think about who I need to work with, how to work with them, and how we can make things better,” Gurrola said.
An example, the recent controversy involving Porterville’s LGBT Pride Month proclamation, she said, was in her rear-view mirror.
“If anything, it shows how much I will fight for the Fifth District and stand up for what needs to be done,” she said. “People may not have agreed with me, but they supported me because I stood up. That’s what I am.”
She also acknowledged her unique position as a Latina candidate for the board, which hasn’t seen many Latinas — or women — serving on it in recent years.
“I look at the world a little bit differently,” Gurrola said with a laugh. “I have a different set of eyeglasses.
“I see it as an opportunity for not just me, but for the district and the county to have a Latina woman on the board of supervisors,” she said.
While she’s started some fundraising, her strategy for voter outreach isn’t based on money and advertising campaigns; she says she prefers a “grassroots” approach, reaching out to voters directly and letting them know who she is, and where she stands on the issues.
“Everybody can come up and voice their concerns, but your vote can change the direction that this county, that the Fifth District goes into. And it can open the door for so many others,” she said.
“We’re just making that turn towards economic improvement. We want to continue moving forward in that direction. We want businesses to continue coming to California, and we want them to continue coming to Tulare County.”