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In Election Upset, Sanger City Councilmember Hurtado On Way To State Senate

Kerry Klein
Valley Public Radio
Melissa Hurtado, Fresno County native and Democratic Sanger City Councilmember, defeated incumbent Republican Andy Vidak for State Senate District 14.

When it comes to the state legislature, November's elections contained only a handful of surprises, but one of the few occurred right here in the San Joaquin Valley: Sanger City Councilmember Melissa Hurtado will be the next State Senator to govern District 14, which encompasses parts of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern Counties. She beat out Republican Andy Vidak by 8 percentage points, in what will likely be the only State Senate race in which a challenger unseated an incumbent.

So who is Hurtado? The 30-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants was born in Fresno and raised in Sanger. She studied at Sacramento State University and spent time working for healthcare-related non-profits including Health Access California and Planned Parenthood before returning to Sanger and running for the city council in 2016. She’s now two for two, winning both of her first elections to public office.

She sat down with FM89 a few days after the election, when her victory was likely but still uncertain, to talk about her background, her goals for District 14 and how she feels about being part of a wave of young women of color to take public office.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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