Lor feeling upbeat about progress made
Despite facing three challengers in the March 3 election, Merced County Supervisor Lee Lor is confident she will be re-elected for her second four-year term.
The 37-year-old Lor faces Ricky Aguilera, Angel Barragan and Josh Pedrozo in the spring primary. If no one gets a majority vote then, the top two will face each other in a November runoff. She first took office in January 2017.
“I am very confident I will win, with the work I’ve done with residents. In three years I’ve already done so much,” Lor said.
The top issues in the District 2 race are economic development and homelessness. She concedes public safety and roads also are ongoing issues.
District 2 covers mainly areas in the city of Merced.
“When I came on board, the city and county were not working together. Now they are as of the last couple years. It’s not just the county’s responsibility to address the homeless issue. Folks should understand the role of the Continuum of Care as well as the role of the city and county,” Lor said.
The Continuum of Care brought in a consultant to help plan how to best address homelessness. The consultant has been working on a report for about six months and should come back with options “real soon,” she said.
Lor said the common perception is that the economic development picture is fairly rosy, with new businesses, downtown revitalization and new housing going up. These are tangible pieces to economic development but low wages and low skills need to be addressed as well. The aspect that needs to be looked at is the people side to sustain positive growth.
“It depends on how you look at it. Folks stand by the ‘build it and they will come’ but how long will they stay? We are working for tomorrow and the future, not just for today. The bottom line is we need to increase the skills and quality of the workforce,” Lor said.
Resident engagement is very important. She feels her biggest accomplishment has been improving the quality of service by way of improving policies, procedures and practices, ensuring that the community has a fair chance of getting its needs met. She credits volunteer efforts with making these goals succeed. These volunteer efforts will remain in place regardless of who is in office.
Lor is the co-founder of the Interactive Children’s Museum, which will feature interactive exhibits for people of all ages. The museum now is hiring a part-time office assistant and will open this spring in Merced. It is housed in a former church on Yosemite Avenue, directly across the street from Merced College.
The target audience of the museum is children from 0 to 12 years of age. She says the museum will sustain and strengthen the community and will be a drawing card for this area.
With a high-quality workforce, this will keep adding quality pieces to the puzzle, to sustain growth at UC Merced, Merced College, and Mercy Medical Center Merced. These enhancements will draw specialists to this area and keep hoped-for businesses such as Trader Joe’s viable, Lor believes.
One of Lor’s next areas of focus is youth employment and family health, concentrating on prevention and intervention.
“I encourage the public to do their homework with each of the candidates. The research will show the character of each opponent, and contributions to the community. I encourage them to look at paid and volunteer experience. I would like the public to understand the common expectations of the county supervisor job and look at what each candidate has done above and beyond that,” Lor said.
Lor is the mother of two teenagers in public schools and two adult children. She grew up in Merced County, graduating from Atwater High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University Stanislaus in Turlock and her master’s degree in business administration from California State University, Fresno.
Lor worked 12 years with the Merced County Office of Education and was responsible for Virginia and Cyril Smith scholarships. She also was the executive director of the Merced County Education Foundation which implemented the Summer Performing Arts Program and raised funds for the Camp Green Meadows outdoor education program for fifth and sixth-grade students in the county.
As the designated representative to the California State Association of Counties and National Association of Counties and the First 5 Merced County Commission, Lor said she works with leaders across the nation to develop equitable and fair policies for all.
She said she collaborates with Central Valley leaders to strengthen a regional network addressing clean water, agriculture, economic development and public health.
She said she is committed to shared leadership, spending tax dollars efficiently, ensuring public safety and building economic capital with transparency, sustainability and integrity.
Lor said her accomplishments include implementing the People’s Budget, the first participatory budgeting project at the county level in the United States, led by volunteers.
Lor said her accomplishments also include getting $1 million in additional funding for the Merced County Courthouse Museum and $1 million in added funding for county libraries.
Lor also serves on the Merced County Association of Governments board and is a commissioner with the Central California Alliance for Health.
She is chairman of First 5 in Merced County and a member of the Merced County Behavioral Health Advisory Board. She is a member of the Library Advisory Commission, Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council and the San Joaquin Valley Leadership Committee.
Lor also is a director of the 35th District Agricultural Association which runs the Merced County Fair.