As Mercedians ring in the new year, many people are hoping to start it off on the right foot by enthusiastically searching for inspiration so as to focus on things that will help counteract the nightmare times of 2020.
One such positive individual is Matthew Serratto.
Serratto is the City of Merced’s new Mayor, as well as Merced County’s chief Deputy District Attorney.
He was formerly the Merced City Councilman for District 5, but Sarah Boyle will take his place now that he is set to enjoy a four year mayoral term.
Serratto, who replaced outgoing Mayor Mike Murphy when he was sworn in on December 7, shared his professional and personal goals for the new year with the Times.
“I took over Dec. 7, and so far so good,” he exclaimed. “I’m enjoying it!
“In terms of the city, I anticipate bringing a lot of effort and energy to bear, and getting people together and moving the city in a positive direction.
“I think there are a lot of good things we can do when moving forward on initiatives, and we can take that momentum and let it bring community members into the projects.
“Really what I hope to achieve, as opposed to just the people who work for the city doing it, is to bring a broad spectrum of citizens to work together, taking ownership and taking pride in what we’re doing.
“COVID obviously makes that difficult because of the social distancing requirements, but I think there’s a lot of interest among the people in contributing, volunteering and playing a part in restoring the city and also moving it forward and redefining it.
“An example is taking the buildings downtown, which were once central landmarks in the city, and restoring them to their former glory but also having a new take on them as well and re-creating them with a vision of Merced in 2021 and going forward.
“What we’re going to hopefully try to move on is Merced’s slogan, ‘The Gateway to Yosemite’. Four to five million people from all over the world go to Yosemite each year, and I want us to do a better job of being the gateway to Yosemite. I want to take that time-honored concept of Merced, restore it to what it was, and at the same time, create something new, honoring what’s contemporary and also the future.
“We are having initial conversations about marketing. There’s an item on the Council agenda Monday to rename our airport to put Yosemite in the title. Fresno did that with its airport in the 1990’s, and a lot of cities have renamed their airports. All the airports have seen tremendous growth since they did that.
“We have a unique opportunity with the ACE trains coming to Merced relatively soon and possibly high speed rail and also with Amtrak, and it will mean Merced will become a transportation center and that involves travel to Yosemite also. The goal is to get 40,000 to 50,000 people to stay in Merced on their way, which will mean they stay in hotels and purchase meals and this will amount to a lot of dollars for our local economy.”
Describing his personal New Year’s resolutions, Serratto told the Times, “On a personal level, I’ve had a New Year resolution planned and thought out for awhile now. It’s very important: Health. I plan to exercise more and eat better.
“The last few years, for me personally, I was going through a lot with the campaign and then some health issues.
“I want to get back to being more focused and being more disciplined with health. I am the kind of guy who likes to go to the gym. I have a work out program where one day I’m doing push ups, back exercises and sit ups, and then I alternate that with cardio and legs. Exercise sessions of half an hour to 45 minutes six days a week is my goal.
“I also need to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
When asked about his work for the District Attorney’s office, Serratto told the Times, “I’ve been in the Merced County D. A.’s office since 2007.
“From the mid-1990’s to 2010, there was a drop in crime locally and nationally, and this year, we’re seeing crime spike. In a lot of cities like New York City and Los Angeles, they have been seeing numbers they haven’t seen in a long time as far as shootings and murders, and it’s pretty alarming.
“My goal for 2021 is working toward improved public safety. Public safety is so fundamental to everything else. People do not want to be around crime, and crime deeply affects everything and makes everything else impossible to develop. People being secure in their persons and property is key. The Government’s first job is to make sure that the public is safe, be it from crime or COVID.”