Merced County Times Newspaper
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Dist. 6 hopeful Xiong hoping  to create change on City Council 

Fue Xiong
Fue Xiong

If elected, Fue Xiong would become the youngest member of the Merced City Council. He is vying for the District 6 seat as a challenger to incumbent City Councilman Delray Shelton.

The 31-year-old Xiong was born in Thailand and his family came to the United States in 1992 as refugees, settling in Merced. Xiong remembers constantly moving around Merced in his youth, attending several elementary schools including Weaver, Pioneer, Chenoweth, Riverbank, Tenaya, Cruickshank; Merced and Buhach high schools, and Merced College before leaving the area to study at UC Davis.

“I moved out of Merced to study chemical engineering,” Xiong told the Times. “Although I was out of Merced for a while, I never really left Merced because my family and my community lives here. Every holiday we would come back home; every other weekend we would also come back home. That is how much family and community means to me.”

Today,  Xiong is working as an engineer focused on cleaning up the environment and advocating for others to follow suit. Xiong’s family was supported with government assistance programs, including WIC, food stamps, and cash aid. They lived in Section 8 housing. He credits these social programs for paving a pathway for his life and providing the resources for his success.

Today, Xiong is a regular community member at the Merced City Council meetings and consistently advocates for affordable housing and youth investment.

He believes his attention to detail and experience with reading contracts are two strong characteristics that set him apart from other candidates and leaders up on the dais.

“City Council does not read the contracts,” he told the Times. “For example, the contract for the North Merced Transit Hub had an entire section that was missing and incomplete. It stopped halfway through the sentence and did not make any sense where it was going. I brought this up to the council and they still approved the contract as is… Contracts are legal binding documents that you do not want to approve like that.”

Xiong explains his candidacy came almost by surprise. He originally had no intention of running, but after continually presenting proposals to leaders and not having them implemented; he and other like-minded community members knew something needed to be done.

“We knew we needed to see someone on council that actively supported and fought for housing, community, and for our environment,” Xiong explained. “We knew we couldn’t wait. We needed to have community initiative.”

Affordable housing is just one of the issues that Xiong feels passionate about.

“When I moved back to Merced I started to become more involved in the community and working with the community. It started with housing. I grew up in affordable housing and I went back there and talked to the tenants where I grew up. It’s really disheartening… You see people living in the rundown apartments that you grew up in… That’s what really drives me. That’s why I joined the Merced Coalition for Fair Housing. That’s why I’m organizing.”

Bringing and maintaining good paying jobs for residents is another topic Xiong hopes to vote on at council if elected.

“I read contracts for a living, I’ve been trained to be detailed and focus on the numbers. When I’m looking through some of the city contracts and there are sections that are entirely incomplete or extreme typos, whatever the case may be… I see that [the city] is not actively trying to keep jobs in Merced because they’re contracting outside of Merced to provide goods and services where we could be keeping those local dollars here in Merced.”

“A lot of my work is about cleaning up the environment and focusing on that, and I do not think Merced is focusing enough on that. We are not investing in renewable energy. A big part of my platform is making sure that our future generations have a place to call home.”

Xiong explains there is a city document that details how Merced would address climate change and how they would make the city more resilient to its changes, but the city has not made any updates to it since 2008. Updating and proactively taking steps to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the council are issues he hopes to address if elected.

Youth Investment is also one of Xiong’s biggest priorities.

“I really believe that we need to ensure that we keep jobs here. We need to team up with the UC here and our youth to create programs that give youth opportunities. I believe that the city has a major role to play with the investment between the UC and our youth and I do not see that happening.”

When it comes to public safety, Xiong believes it is important to ensure that residents are not only safe but also feel the safety of the city.

“Our police force is overworked and understaffed, and I think we need to alleviate some of the pressure off of them. For example, I think there are three [regular police] officers right now who are doing traffic control. One of my biggest pushes is that we should have a ‘traffic control agency’ that handles that, and they should be the ones that deal with traffic violations to allow police officers to focus on solving crimes.”

“We also need to address root causes of crime to prevent them from happening rather than simply addressing them after the fact.”

Xiong believes it’s time to bring new and fresh ideas to City Council; ideas that reflect communities in Merced who are actively looking for a different Merced.

“If we truly want change, we are going to have to fight for it every step of the way, and we need to start today.”

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