The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business (COLAB) of Imperial County, in collaboration with the Brawley Chamber of Commerce, organized a political forum on Feb. 7 at Imperial Valley College.
The event featured the candidates running for Imperial County District 2 Supervisor, all of whom are women. Dihana Garcia-Ruiz, Martha Cardenas-Singh, and Ashley Bertussi took the stage to discuss important issues such as healthcare, the environment, and economic development.
Ashley Bertussi, a local businesswoman, highlighted her experience and involvement in various community organizations. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from California State University Northridge, Bertussi has been actively contributing to the City of El Centro Planning Commission for the past five years. She emphasized her commitment to community development and her desire to bring fresh perspectives to the role of District 2 Supervisor.
“I’m proud to call Imperial County my home and I understand the challenges and opportunities unique to our county. I am passionate about our communities and I look forward to being part of a board that is committed to making our county a great place to live a build a great future,” Bertussi said.
Martha Cardenas-Singh, a former mayor of El Centro and city council member, spoke about her accomplishments in spearheading significant projects such as the City of El Centro Public Library and affordable housing initiatives. Cardenas-Singh pledged to prioritize economic growth, particularly in underserved areas like Heber, and to address accessibility issues within the district.
“My tireless dedication to the community and proven track record of success makes me the ideal to lead our county towards a brighter future. Through my time as Mayor of El Centro I took charge of the transformative development projects that have improved the lives of our residents,” Cardenas-Singh said.
Dihana Garcia-Ruiz, a lifelong resident of Heber, emphasized her community advocacy and dedication to education. With over 27 years of experience as an elected official, Garcia-Ruiz has actively worked towards improving education in Imperial County. She also serves on the Central Union High School District Board of Trustees and the Heber Public Utility District Board of Directors, where she contributes her expertise on water issues.
“I work for what I want, I’m not the person that waits around to do the job at hand. I take the initiative. When elected I will work on the county’s needs: better healthcare, equitable healthcare, better-paying jobs, and affordable housing. We can achieve this by working together,” Garcia-Ruiz said.
The candidates were asked about the new healthcare district that was sworn in and the expectations they had about improving healthcare accessibility within the community.
Garcia-Ruiz: “If El Centro Regional closes what happens to El Centro, Heber, Calexico, Seeley, and Ocotillo? That extra 20 to 30-minute drive to Brawley could be a matter of life or death. We need to work together to ensure that what happened to El Centro Regional never happens again. Everyone needs to be diligent.”
Cardenas-Singh: “It is an exciting time to have a unified healthcare district to be able to expand the services we have. It’s a great opportunity to reassign and repurpose facilities to expand services. It has taken us 20 years to get to this point and here we are in the forefront of creating a new healthcare district that will provide services for all of us.”
Bertussi: “My hope for this new board is that they can make the necessary discoveries of information so they can move forward in a collaborative manner where each hospital works together sharing information and keep the services available to stretched across the county.”
The forum can be watched in its entirety at the Beyond Borders Gazette Facebook page.