Published: July 22, 2014

To my fellow Merced citizens who support investing in youth and the young citizens who spoke up and stood up during the recent city of Merced’s budget process: Thank you.

Thank you for participating. Thank you for attending the budget sessions and the council meetings. Thank you for publicly supporting youth. Your hard work, commitment and dedication made a difference in how the budget process works and how our city functions. We should look forward to future discussions with city leaders and forging partnerships that will make our city stronger and more supportive of youth.

We have made tremendous progress, and we will continue to take steps that show future businesses and entrepreneurs that we invest in our youth.

Meanwhile, Merced still has the highest rate of child poverty in the state. As the city slashed the parks and recreation budget, the unemployment rate for youth ages 16-19 is even higher than the adult unemployment rate – nearing 17 percent. Despite the powerful voice of the community, the city budget was approved with no significant allocation to youth-related services.

We feel this is a breakdown in the democratic process, but because of you – the citizens of Merced – we have hope, and we will eventually transform our city.

Crissy Gallardo, Merced