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Longtime educator Gloria Mercado-Fortine has set her sights on making a change in Santa Clarita, having officially filed her paperwork for the 2014 City Council race and joining a field of about a dozen candidates, including two incumbent councilmembers. The Valencia resident and William S. Hart Union High School District board member is focusing on issues ranging from public safety and infrastructure improvements, to more community centers and enhanced senior services.

“Having been raised in the Santa Clarita Valley, I care deeply about this community,” Mercado-Fortine said. “I’ve served on the Hart board for 14 years – the largest full-time employer in the SCV – and I want to bring that experience along with a new, energetic and fresh perspective to the City Council.”

Mercado-Fortine said she is committed to maintaining and improving Santa Clarita’s status as a leading Southern California city. With a close-knit team of volunteers, Mercado-Fortine is running a grassroots campaign, focused on meet-and-greet type events that get her up close and personal with supporters and potential voters.

Mercado-Fortine brings much experience to the table. Education is a passion of hers, and she is serving her fourth term as an elected member of the Hart district governing board. She has served as board president three times. In that time, she has worked hard to secure more than a half-million dollars in funding for construction and modernization of school facilities.

“Quality schools are a foundational element of any strong community,” she said. “We have a legacy of being a family-friendly place to live and grow, and I want to ensure we preserve and build on that.”

Mercado-Fortine worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than 20 years, including being principal of Nimitz Junior High School in Huntington Park – the second-largest junior high in the country – and as a district administrator supervising 125 schools with a combined budget of $150 million. She was also a three-term member of the Castaic Union School District board of trustees. She holds master’s degrees in Public School Administration and Educational Psychology.

When it comes to her campaign, Mercado-Fortine is focused squarely on improving the community. Among the issues she will advocate are transparent government, improving local infrastructure, increasing sports fields and community centers, improving relationships between schools, businesses and unincorporated Los Angeles County areas, improving senior services and facilities and enhancing public safety resources to protect families and neighborhoods.

As part of promoting environmental stewardship in the SCV, Mercado-Fortine stands with those opposed to the proposed CEMEX Corp. gravel mine in Soledad Canyon, and supports timely cleanup of the polluted former Whittaker-Bermite property in the center of the city.

Looking ahead, she said at the end of her first term she would hope to count among her accomplishments: working to create new facilities in the valley for the Sheriff’s Department, enhancing youth programs to fight drugs, gangs and graffiti; better coordination of traffic; collaborating with water agencies and downstream farmers to reduce the requirement to meet the 100mg per liter chloride limit for Santa Clarita’s water; and working with educational partners and businesses to develop a competitive local workforce.

Mercado-Fortine is a member of Santa Clarita’s Anti-Gang Task Force and Neighborhood Empowerment Safety Team, the Canyon Country Merchants Committee, the SCV Chamber of Commerce, the SCV Latino Chamber and the Valley Industry Association. She was also a founding member of the Castaic Town Council. In addition to serving on the Hart district board, she sits on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, the Child and Family Center, the Samuel Dixon Family Health Center, the Santa Clarita Valley Family YMCA, the Zonta Club of SCV and Circle of Hope.