Eddie Valero – Orosi’s “golden boy” who graduated a year early from Orosi High School and went on to attend Princeton and Cornell, among other elite universities – has embarked on a far different mission than he was thinking about as recently as six years ago.
Earlier this month, the 36-year-old Valero took the oath on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors before a standing-room-only audience at the board chambers and promised to help make the Fourth District and the county better.
“I truly believe this county is one of the best in the state, and I will work hard with my colleagues on this dais to realize our great purpose and to make our county thrive for years to come,” said Valero, the third Latino in history to serve on the board.
Colleague Kuyler Crocker, the board chairman from Strathmore, was elected in 2016 with help from the Grow Elect campaign to get more Republican Latinos elected to office.
Lali Moheno, who was appointed by then-Gov. Gray Davis to fill a vacancy on the board but lost her re-election bid, was the first Latina to serve on the board.
Valero – in his remarks after being sworn into office alongside his parents, Blanca and Miguel Valero – also held a lunch celebration with supporters, friends and relatives at the Manuel F. Hernández Community Center.
“I have always shared with people that my hometown believed in me before I believed in myself,” said Valero, who was sworn in by pastor Ángel Menchaca. “And now, in front of me, I see people who have inspired me, who have encouraged me and supporter me along this journey.”
Valero, who won outright in the June primary, represents a portion of Visalia and the cities of Dinuba and Woodlake. It includes the unincorporated communities of Orosi, Cutler, Goshen, Traver, Ivanhoe and Traver.
The county – whose population of 474,000 is about 65 percent Latino – has about 23,000 county employees and a $1.2 billion budget. Each of the five supervisors are paid $108,224.
Valero said he was prepared to become a university professor until he “got a tug in my heart in 2012 to return home and invest in community because I realized that service to others was better than service for self.”
When his parents, who own and operate a Mexican food restaurant in Orosi, found out their son wanted to return to the heavily Latino (87 per cent), unincorporated community of about 9,000 residents, their reaction, said Valero, was “What in the world are you doing here?”
“They soon realized that my role would be a part of our great Central Valley and working to make it better,” said Valero, who started the Young Men’s Initiative to provide leadership and direction for Orosi male students.