Pareira working to keep county moving forward in positive way
Government could and should move faster, quicker and more efficiently, according to Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira.
That said, Pareira is both determined and excited these days because the “county is in a groove and things are moving forward” with regard to planning and permitting, solutions for the homeless crisis, public safety, transportation infrastructure, water issues, economic development and jobs.
“I’m proud of the promises I’ve kept over the past four years,” he told the Times. “We have fixed county roads, ensured free rides and mobility for our most vulnerable: our seniors, our veterans and our disabled. We created opportunities for economic growth that fits the character of our county, and the good paying jobs that our working families need.”
The 57-year-old Pareira is running for re-election to continue representing District 4 on the Board of Supervisors. He faces Mario Mendoza, a member of the Merced College Board of Trustees, in the March 3 Primary.
District 4 includes the communities of Ballico, Gustine, Cressey, Delhi, Hilmar, Snelling, Stevinson, Winton, and portions of Atwater.
After Pareira was first elected in 2016, he pursued what he saw was a need for more accountability in the area of processing of building permits and planning applications. He said he went straight to work with staff, connecting key individuals in various departments and developing a dialogue to streamline the way things were being done.
“The day I was sworn into office, 82 percent of the permits were over 30 days without being reviewed. We knew this was an area where we could make improvements and help bring jobs to the area. By April 1, that number had dropped down to 37 percent, and by late summer it was down to zero.”
Then came the issue of boosting the number of Sheriff’s deputies to adequately cover the many rural ares of the county. Staffing was well below the required level, and the Sheriff’s Department was losing deputies to other counties that offered higher salaries.
“We stepped up and we were able to develop a 10 percent salary increase for deputies, and we were able to bring some of the highly qualified deputies back, and also hire and train new people,” Pareira said.
The candidate says the department is now at full staff and making a difference.
“My district is very rural, and people feel safer today than when I was first campaigning,” he said. “I would hear complaints like, ‘It takes forever for the sheriff deputies to get here,’ or ‘They didn’t show up until the next day.’ … I don’t hear those complaints anymore. Response times to emergencies have probably been cut in half. And this is a very real and important issue for the residents of District 4.”
By the way, during the salary negotiations with law enforcement, Pareira was the sole supervisor on the board to decline a pay raise for his or her own self.
Meanwhile, the supervisor said he is working every day with the county’s economic development team to promote and expand good paying jobs for the region’s hardworking families. He said he is encouraged by such endeavors as the expansion of Foster Farms in Livingston, the growth of the Mid-California International Trade District at the former Castle Air Force Base, and the future opportunities that will be created by the Atwater-Merced Expressway project.
Today, the incumbent is also confident about progress made to solve issues of homelessness across the county. He admits it’s a slow-moving process with many county department heads and regional partners involved, but he contends the county is making progress like never before.
The board started the new year off by unanimously approving a countywide plan to reshape and expedite a proposed “navigation” service center / shelter in Merced, as well as initiate the opening of 10 mini centers in rehabilitated homes across the rural landscape.
The action is putting into place more beds and services in at least nine months earlier than was anticipated just months ago. The center in Merced alone will be able to assist up to 125 people if needed in the months to come.
Pareira has been a leader in the effort to reshape the fight against homelessness. He is a member of the Continuum of Care board, an organizer in the annual Homeless Connect event, and a go-between negotiator between the county and local nonprofits such as the Rescue Mission that are crucial to making plans come together throughout the region.
“I was able to get some traction with my colleagues,” Pareira said, “and early on, Assemblyman Adam Gray and I talked about what could be done. He agreed that we could make a difference in Merced.”
Pareira points out the county is responsible for directing state funds to help people who are suffering from behavioral health issues and drug abuse. However, he also points out that people who are living outside of societal norms shouldn’t have the ability to ruin a community concerned about quality of life and public safety.
With new funding streams, Pareira says the county is making steady progress to repair roads and improve transportation issues in rural communities though it’s a daunting and continuous effort.
“We have paved more roads in District 4 over the last three years since I’ve been elected than they paved in the previous decade,” he said.
While there are plenty of projects in the works, Pareira can point to a long list of improvements that have been made in his district: Repaved roads, improved pedestrian crossings, added sidewalks and bike paths that have helped ease congestion and improved safety for school kids in rural towns like Gustine, Hilmar, Delhi and Winton.
The improvements are tangible — from the upgraded roads and pedestrian crossing system near Geer and Lander in Hilmar, to a smoother Shanks Road in Delhi, and to the Walnut Avenue sidewalk project in Winton.
In Delhi alone, dozens of sidewalk and street projects have been completed, and even more are on the way for Schendel Road, Stephens Street, and other targeted locations.
In Winton, Pareira is working with the community for long-awaited improvements to the railroad and traffic intersection at Santa Fe and Winton Way. The plan is to make the Winton “more walkable.” There’s also a strategy to find a new site for the town’s library branch.
“My life is really about connecting people so that things can be accomplished,” Pareira said. “I believe my intuition is good. … If you can’t be human and care about people, then the rest doesn’t matter. That’s how God has wired me.”
When an innovative new health clinic was opened at Livingston High School recently, Pareira said he listened to Delhi residents and school leaders who wanted the same thing, and was able to connect them with local health officials to create a similar project at their high school as well.
He said this is just another example of the many things being accomplished in the county by working with talented members of the community and creating partnerships.
The candidate is asking the people of District 4 for their vote on March 3 “so we can continue our hard work for another four years.”
Along with his supervisorial duties, Pareira is the vice chairman of the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District Board, a primary member of the Merced and East Turlock Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, the county’s Public Safety Committee and the San Joaquin Valley Regional Early Action Planning Committee for Housing.
Pareira has also worked in the dairy industry and maintained a dairy along with exotic animals in the Snelling area. He has also worked in the solar industry.
He is a graduate of Cal Poly State University and Merced College, and has degrees in Dairy and Animal sciences.
Pareira and his wife Babette have four children: Jared, Regan, Isabella and Gianna.