Soria aims for improved roads, safety for District 4

Jim Soria

Jim Soria is counting on 30 years of public safety experience, coupled with his past tenure as a City Council member and mayor in Livingston, to help him connect with voters and convince them he’s the man to represent District 4 on the Merced County Board of Supervisors.

“My background is in law enforcement and code enforcement,” Soria will point out. “Some people talk a lot about experience with boots on the ground. Well I have been a cop directly involved in public safety and code enforcement.”

The 55-year-old Hilmar resident says he is concerned with the condition of roads in many areas of District 4 and the county as a whole. He’s equally concerned about public safety response times in rural areas.

“These are the issues I’ve been hearing as I go door to door talking to voters,” he says.

Soria is one of two challengers running against incumbent District 4 Supervisor Lloyd Pareira who is seeking a third term in office. The other contender is Dennis Brazil, a former mayor of Gustine. If no candidate can garner 50 percent, plus one of the vote in the March 5 Primary Election, a runoff will be held in the November election.

District 4 includes the unincorporated areas of Snelling, Winton, Ballico, Cressey, Delhi, Stevinson, Hilmar, and the small city of Gustine.

Soria believes he can make a difference by making roads in his district a strong priority, including areas that should have been improved a long time ago — such as stretches of American, August and Lander avenues in the Hilmar area.

“Our roads are horrendous,” he says. “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt if we don’t continue to maintain our roads.”

The candidate also has an immediate plan to render aid to the Sheriff’s Department which is suffering from understaffing and deputy retention issues.

“The Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have any community service officers that I am aware of,” Soria says. “I would like to hire some so they can handle some of the calls for service and free up sworn deputies who can address the more important calls.”

Thinking more longterm, Soria says his goal is to budget wisely and responsibly, and that’s the key to preventing government from falling behind on essential services.

“It’s the people’s money, and we have t o make sure that we are not just spending money to spend money,” he says. “When I was mayor of Livingston, I left the city financially secure, in the black, and in good financial standing. I focused on bringing equipment to the police and fire departments, making sure our public works team was well equipped and making sure our water supply was up to date.

“At the county level, we have to fully provide for our law enforcement efforts, and we have to maintain the public safety personnel that we have. You know we train deputies, and we train other officials in the county, and they end up leaving for Stanislaus or Fresno counties to make more money. We have to make sure we are not hemorrhaging valuable employees.”

Soria says the Board of Supervisors and county officials should be focused on making the county attractive for investment and encouraging big companies to set up shop and provide much-needed jobs. “

The candidate says he doesn’t know his competitors on a personal level, but says it’s time for fresh ideas on the board.

“I just think what I bring to the table are things they don’t have. They don’t have experience working as a police officer. I’ve also been a mayor and a council member. I understand the idea of really reaching out to people and following through. If elected, I would have regular meetings with the local mayors and other leaders in the region, as well as with business leaders and residents. I want to know what people have to say. In this day and age, politicians forget that people don’t work for them. They work for the people.”



Soria was born in Merced and raised in Livingston and attended high school there. He became a police officer and worked for some 20 years for various departments in the Central Valley region, including in Newman, Ceres and Mendota.

Later in life, Soria was elected to the Livingston City Council, and then later he became mayor for a 2-year term. In 2014, he ran for sheriff of Merced County, but failed to get enough votes to make it out of the primary election and into the eventual November runoff.

Today, Soria works as a public safety officer for Modesto Junior College. He’s been married for more than 35 years to his wife Carmen, and she is also a community service officer for the Modesto Police Department. They have three daughters who are pursuing higher education and successful careers.

The candidate says he’s proud to have the endorsement of the North Valley Labor Federation.

“I’m humble and I put people first,” Soria says. “When I get elected I wouldn’t take a pay raise, and if I end up getting re-elected to a second term, I wouldn’t take a pay raise. These supervisors make enough money. Pay raises should go back to the county employees.”

ElectionsMercedMerced County
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