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This election season, there’s a new coalition of activists leaving their mark on politics in Calexico, a border city in California’s Imperial Valley. Helping to fuel the movement are young people, many who left Calexico for jobs or education elsewhere but who have returned home with a desire to make things better in their community. 

Gilberto Manzanarez, 29, and Raúl Ureña, 25, are taking center stage in the effort. They came back to Calexico during the COVID-19 pandemic and quickly became involved in a growing grassroots movement of community advocates that included groups such as the Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition and Calexico Needs Change. In 2020, Ureña, with the backing of fellow activists, won a seat on Calexico’s city council at the age of 23. 

In this year’s election, seven candidates are competing to fill two seats on Calexico’s city council. Ureña and Manzanarez have largely campaigned as a team. They’ve pitched themselves as newcomers and changemakers, alternatives to other candidates who are older and some who have already served on or run for City Council before.

More information about all of the candidates can be found in this recent Calexico Chronicle article covering a campaign forum.

Photojournalist Zoe Meyers photographed the two candidates over a weekend of campaigning to get an inside look at what’s motivating them to run for office. 
Read her written story for more information about each candidate and details from the weekend.

Raúl Ureña laughs with campaign manager Dylan Castillo, right, and volunteer Armando Marquez, left, at Calexico’s Día de los Muertos celebration, Oct. 22, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña hangs election flyers on the homes of voters in Calexico, Oct. 7, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez carries election materials into his car before a day of campaigning in Calexico, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña sits at their family’s kitchen table in Calexico before leaving for an evening awards ceremony in El Centro, Oct. 7, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez looks at his schedule before a day of campaigning in Calexico, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña says goodbye to their mother, Isabel Ureña, before leaving for an award ceremony, Oct. 7, 2022. She spent the evening preparing for a barbacoa plate fundraiser for the campaign. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez consults with his parents while building campaign signs in the front yard of their Calexico home, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña laughs with their mother, cousin and sister over a breakfast of chilaquiles at their family’s home in Calexico, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez helps set the table for dinner at his family’s home in Calexico, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña sits with their grandmother, Olga Raggio, during a break from campaigning at their family’s Calexico home, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez helps his mother, Judith Manzanarez, down from a wall where she helped him hang a campaign banner in Calexico, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez holds one of his family’s new kittens in the front yard of their Calexico home, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez and Raúl Ureña drive through Calexico during an afternoon of campaigning, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez and Raúl Ureña distribute campaign flyers to the homes of registered voters in Calexico, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
From left, Daniela Flores, Raúl Ureña and Gilberto Manzanarez talk with a voter on the west side of Calexico, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez talks with Raúl Ureña and Daniela Flores while campaigning in Calexico, Oct. 8, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Gilberto Manzanarez distributes campaign materials to the doors of voters’ homes in Calexico, Oct. 9, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña drives through El Centro on their way to an awards ceremony on Oct. 7, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Raúl Ureña hugs a friend and supporter at Calexico’s Día de los Muertos celebration, Oct. 22, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Zoë Meyers is a photo and video journalist at inewsource. Zoë loves working as a visual journalist because it gives her the privilege of witnessing moments in people's personal lives and in our community that can enhance our understanding of important stories. When she's not behind the camera, Zoë...