Merced County Times Newspaper
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Residents gather to kick off Measure C renewal campaign


Police officers, first responders, political figures and swaths of passionate citizens gathered on the steps of City Hall to officially launch efforts to get a Measure C renewal back on the ballot and passed. The goal: to continue the ongoing funding for Merced’s public safety services.

The petition requires 4,000 signatures from Merced residents, and there is a 180 day timeframe in order to get that accomplished before the 2024 primary election. This kickoff rally was organized by the Committee for a Safer Merced.

“I want to encourage all the residents of Merced to get the signatures and ultimately pass the measure,” said Adam Gray, the former State Assembly member who attended the rally. “There is nothing more critical to the health and safety of the city than well-funded public safety services and fire departments. Without Measure C, Merced faces cuts to these necessary services.”

Measure C, also known as the Merced Vital Services Protection Measure, is a half-cent sales tax that is used to help fund the police departments (covers the expenses of 30 officers), road repair, firefighters, as well as other emergency services. The original measure was passed back in 2006 with a 20-year expiration date, which means that it is due to expire three years from now in 2026. For those who may be aware, this is a similar situation to one that recently took place in Atwater last year with Measure B. Atwater’s Measure B was also a sales tax measure that offered supplementary funding for the police and emergency services and was narrowly renewed just before its expiration date of 2023.

Among the leaders of the citizen-led effort to renew Measure C are Peg Larson, the president of TransCounty Title Company, and Raquel Rios, a Merced police officer and representative of the Merced Police Officer’s Association. They are both well-known and hard-working Mercedians who say they only want the best for their beloved town.

“Last fall the City Council voted to not allow the measure to be on the ballot because it didn’t include affordable housing language,” Larson pointed out. “That clearly is a separate issue that should have its own measure. Put it on the ballot and allow the citizens to decide if they want their sales tax to go towards affordable housing. [Meanwhile], the City of Merced needs to know they will have guaranteed income [for police and fire] in order to budget for the coming years. Currently with the measure sunsetting in 2026, the city has already started making cuts which will directly affect our safety. Our community is growing and will continue to grow. We need to be prepared.”

Said Rios, “The measure cannot succeed without the community’s support. Even though we had three council members take the voice and power away from the people of Merced with their denial of Measure C, the people are now taking that power back.”

Priya Lakireddy, a city school trustee and UC Merced employee, spoke about the many years that her family members have lived, worked and volunteered in the community. As a mother with children, she highlighted how incredibly important it was for her to know that the community is safe and well-protected.

Chad Englert, a Merced Fire captain and the president of the local firefighters union, spoke about the benefits of Measure C and urged residents to end the “uncertainty facing Merced’s public safety’s future.”

“Measure C has provided millions for roads in our city, and has been used to give police and fire upgraded equipment for emergency responses,” Englert said. “The real threat to Merced is what happens if we don’t renew Measure C. Where will we get the funds and resources to maintain our emergency services at current levels, let alone allow us to grow as demands increase?”

Those residents in attendance were encouraged to sign the petitions as well as seek out others to support the cause.

Here are some of feelings from people who spoke with the Times:

Angelo Mantoan said, “As a resident of Merced County, having four children here attending public school, and being a director of a home health agency—with clinicians driving all over the county providing care for patients—safety is a high priority. So this initiative is very close to my heart.”

Ruthie Dickerson said, “I am fully in support of Measure C as a Merced Native. I hope that other residents will educate themselves and make public safety a priority.”

Cathy Paskin said, “I have lived in Merced the last 40 years. I want to make Merced the best city it can be, and this — Measure C — is a step in the right direction.”

Necola Adams said, “Measure C is something that we need to keep in Merced. People need to realize that as the city grows, we need to increase our city services —and this is how you do it, and I support it.”

If you are looking for ways that you can get involved or get in contact with the Committee for a Safer Merced you can visit their website,, or call Alison Kostecky at (209) 769-6243. You can also find the committee on Facebook as well as Instagram.

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