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This year, Valley Public Radio is doing elections coverage differently. We’re asking listeners and residents, what do you want candidates to talk about? Are you concerned about healthcare, housing, or homelessness?We put out a survey from July through October to find out. More than 150 residents throughout the San Joaquin Valley took the survey.The most concerning issue for many is how the economy will recover from COVID-19. Others identified housing and homelessness in local communities as a major issue; others were most concerned for the environment. As we interview candidates and continue our election coverage, we’ll keep these responses in mind. You can keep up with our coverage on this page, or send questions about our process to Laura Tsutsui at ltsutsui@kvpr.org.

Civil Rights Leader Dolores Huerta Endorses Esmeralda Soria For Congress

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Esmeralda Soria For Congress
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Dolores Huerta endorsed Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria's campaign to unseat Congressman Jim Costa in 2020.

Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria grew up in a farm worker family. That legacy wasn’t lost on her on Tuesday when a well-known labor activist and civil rights leader endorsed her 2020 campaign for Congress.

In the 1960s, Dolores Huerta co-founded the organization that would become the United Farm Workers union. At a press conference in Fresno, Huerta said the San Joaquin Valley still has some of the worst poverty in the nation and she referred to Soria as a champion for disadvantaged communities. “This is like a third world country,” she said. “You know what, Esmeralda Soria is going to make it a first-rate country here in Fresno County, Madera and Merced Counties.”

Soria is challenging incumbent Jim Costa for his seat in House District 16, which includes parts of those three counties. She’s running on a platform of education and health care for all, immigration reform, and bolstering renewable energy production. “We’re not taking any corporate PAC money because we said this campaign is going to be about regular working people,” she said, though she did receive corporate donations during her campaign for city council. “That’s how we’re going to change the Valley [and] that’s how we’re going to change this nation.”

At the event, Soria was also endorsed by Madera City Councilmember Santos Garcia. This follows endorsements from unions including the Service Employees International Union, State Senator Anna Caballero and the Central Valley Leadership Roundtable.

Costa, running for his ninth term in Congress, has received endorsements from Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, as well as Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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.