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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 16

Photo of Esmeralda Soria

Esmeralda Soria

Fresno Councilmember/Professor
23,484 votes (21.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Getting Corporate Money Out of Washington
  • Healthcare for All
  • Housing Affordabily/Homelessness



Profession:Fresno City Councilmember/Professor
Fresno City Councilmember, Fresno City Council — Elected position (2015–current)
Board Member, Governor Gavin Newsom's Homeless Regional Council — Appointed position (2019–current)


Harvard University-Kennedy School of Government, UC Davis School of Law, UC Berkeley Executive Certificate, J.D., B.A., Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Law, Political Science and Chicano Studies (2018)


Born and raised in Tulare County, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria is the daughter of Mexican

immigrant farmworkers who instilled in her the values of hard work, community, and service.

Esmeralda was elected to the Fresno City Council in 2014 and was overwhelmingly re-elected to a

second term in 2019. She was the first Latina in the history of the City of Fresno be elected as

Council President and served her term proudly from January 2018 to January 2019.


Esmeralda and her siblings were the first in their family to attend college. After graduating from the

University of California, Berkeley, she was offered a fellowship in Sacramento at our State Capitol

where she worked for two years on issues of public safety, education, and women’s health.

Esmeralda then decided to continue her education, earning her Juris Doctorate from the University

of California, Davis. During her time in law school, Esmeralda was offered an internship at The

White House and devoted countless hours to pro bono work in economically disadvantaged



Esmeralda’s passion has always been to give back to the community that shaped who she is

today. After law school, she became the Sustainable Rural Communities Project Director for

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Esmeralda’s advocacy work in front of city councils

and county boards of supervisors provided her a key understanding of how local government

works. She learned how to build coalitions and work together with government to ensure working

families were benefitting from their budgetary and policy decisions. She was instrumental in

ensuring that our communities had equal access to Safe Routes to School Program (AB 561) and

Unmet Needs Transportation funding.


Her continued commitment to public service brought her to work as District Director to Senator

Michael J. Rubio and later as a Policy Advisor to Assemblymember Henry T. Perea. Esmeralda

built partnerships with community leaders to address unemployment rates in the Central Valley,

workforce development, and education among others. She has championed water quality and

affordability issues and helped secure safe drinking water emergency funding for disadvantaged

communities throughout the Central Valley.


Esmeralda has served on several non-profit boards such as Hands On Central California, Fresno

Barrios Unidos and UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic Council. She is a proud alumnae of HOPE

Leadership Institute, graduating from the program in 2013. In 2014, she was named a 40 under 40

Leader in the Central Valley by Business Street Online. In 2018, Esmeralda was one of sixty

people throughout the world selected to attend Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government,

Executive Leadership Program.


Esmeralda is the only woman on the Fresno City Council and the second Latina to ever serve on

the council. She is dedicated to providing robust constituent services to residents in her district and

she is focused on public safety, infrastructure needs, affordable housing, food sustainability, clean

renewable energy projects, and issues relating to youth and working families. Esmeralda is

committed to work hard to move the City of Fresno forward and make it a safer and stronger

community for everyone.


In addition, Esmeralda is a professor at Fresno City College, teaching Judicial Reasoning and

Latino Politics. She is the chair of the Redevelopment Agency and the Fresno Revitalization

Corporation. She also serves on the board of the Fresno Joint Powers Financing Authority, Access

Plus Capital, California Latino Economic Institute and is a member of the League of California

Cities serving on the General Resolutions Committee, South San Joaquin Valley Division, Latino

Caucus and Chair of the Transportation, Communication, and Public Works Policy Committee. She

also served on the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board & Executive Committee and

the Fresno Area Workforce Investment Corporation Board. In 2016, she was appointed to serve

as Boardmember to the Dailey Elementary Fresno Innovative Charter Schools Board, in 2018 was

appointed to serve on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition team, and most recently was

appointed to serve on the Local Government Commission board.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $422,200

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of Integrated Community Dev.
Employees of Mid Valley Disposal
Employees of Icc Stravinski
Employees of Accolade Management, Llc
Employees of Briner & Son, Inc.
Employees of TFS Investments
Employees of Valley Wide Beverage

More information about contributions

By State:

California 84.01%
District of Columbia 10.50%
Maryland 3.51%
Massachusetts 1.05%
Other 0.93%

By Size:

Large contributions (88.07%)
Small contributions (11.93%)

By Type:

From organizations (17.44%)
From individuals (82.56%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Health Care 


I believe that it is a human right to have access to quality and affordable health care. I will fight to protect the Affordable Care Act in Washington and I will fight to ensure that no American is turned away from medical help due to high medical costs.


My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and my father was put in the hard situation where he chose to quit his job and forfeit future income to be my mom’s caretaker because the cost of in-home care was too high. Even though finances are tight, my parents have some income and their children to fall back on. I know all too well that many Americans who face medical hardships do not have the good fortune of having financial security when faced with a medical emergency.


I will also advocate for more access to mental health and substance abuse medical coverage for all Americans. The lack of investment in our health and access to treatment is now visible on our streets with our growing homelessness crisis.


I understand that access to doctors and medical procedures is just one part of the puzzle as we seek to live healthy lifestyles. Everyone needs access to fresh air and recreational space for our well-being. I am proud to say as a councilmember in Fresno, I helped bring the first universally accessible park to the Central California region. The 8-acre state of the art facility provides much needed green space for residents west of Highway 99. This resource represents an opportunity for improved health, education and sports programming, and renewed vitality to an area of Fresno with very little green space.


Also, as a Fresno City Councilmember, I helped develop affordable housing that includes a community health clinic that services low-income families. This project was a dream of mine that I saw through over a period of two years from its inception, to groundbreaking, to the doors opening. This new development was not only an added social benefit to low-income families that struggle to find affordable medical care in Fresno, but also invested $15 million into the local economy and provided 400 jobs.


Homelessness Crisis


In July of 2019 I was appointed by Governor Newsom to serve on the state’s newly created Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force. I am one of 6 elected officials, and the only elected official from the Central Valley to serve on this governing board to determine how best to spend California’s new $1 billion budget to solve homelessness in California. I am honored that Governor Newsom chose me to be a part of this taskforce and to have a seat at the table to advocate for the Central Valley.


Homelessness increased by 17% in Fresno and Madera counties. The issues that contribute to homelessness are nuanced and require a multi-pronged approach to solve them. A solution to homelessness means that we will need to invest in temporary bridge housing as well as permanent supportive and affordable housing. We will also need to work to provide our vulnerable populations with the services needed for them to thrive: medical, mental health, substance abuse, and job training. We all must acknowledge that this issue requires compassion, determination and a lot of hard work to solve, and we can only truly address homelessness if we come together. 


Gun Violence


To solve gun violence, we need substantial legislative reform. Whether caused by gang violence, mental illness or hardened prejudices, gun violence is unacceptable and we must rise together as a nation to solve this epidemic. We need to fight the NRA and corporate gun lobby. I propose we ban the sale of assault weapons, limit magazine capacity, close the “Charleston Loophole,” conduct buy-back programs, and enforce strict universal background checks. 


Clean Up Washington


Political insiders who have been in office for decades are surrounded by lobbyists and they lose sight of the needs of everyday people. While students are graduating college with record-high debts, families are faced with medical costs, and we experience exploding housing costs, the richest corporations pay $0 in federal taxes. The revolving door satiates big-interests and keeps re-electing incumbents. It is time for a change in business as usual in Washington.




I know first-hand the value of a good public education. As a first-generation student, I depended on my teachers’ guidance to navigate through classes, shape my goals, and pursue my ambitions. Without the support of my public school educators, I wouldn’t have graduated from UC Berkeley or obtained my law degree.


I am a professor at Fresno City College because I want to provide students with the same guidance and support that I received. Most of the students that I teach come from similar backgrounds as me, and I want to make sure that the next generation sees people in positions of power that they can relate to.


When I speak with my students, I hear about how they are struggling to balance it all - school, work, their personal lives, and their finances. Too many students are crippled with high debt loads right as they start their careers. And, I understand that struggle because I am still burdened by my student loan debt ten years after graduating.


I am passionate about expanding educational opportunities and I have a long track record of advocating for good education for all. As a Fresno City Councilmember, I helped expand Fresno City College campuses into the City’s two most low-income neighborhoods. And, I also helped create a scholarship fund for DREAMers at UC Fresno.


As a Congressmember, I will fight to make college more affordable and accessible for all students. I will support student loan forgiveness programs and tuition-free community college and vocational training programs. As a Congressmember, I will also work to strengthen our K through 12 public education including supporting our teachers and providing them with the resources they need as well as advocating for universal pre-kindergarten education.




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