California Baptist University alumnus and newly elected Councilman Yxstian Gutierrez is working to get Moreno Valley, Calif., back on track following a string of felony charges surrounding former Councilman Marcelo Co.
Before Gutierrez was elected as a councilman for District 4, his predecessor, Co, faced two felony charges— one count of bribery and one unrelated count of filing a false corporate tax return in 2010.
According to an FBI press release, Co accepted a $2.3 million bribe from an undercover FBI agent posing as a land broker in Temecula, Calif. On Nov. 5, he agreed to plead guilty to both counts. According to the Press-Enterprise, federal prosecutors are expected to enter his plea in early December.
After Co’s arrest, Gutierrez was elected to the city council and decided to take on the role of regaining the trust of the residents of Moreno Valley.
Councilman Gutierrez graduated from CBU in 2005 with a degree in liberal arts. Gutierrez said he is applying much of what he learned in the classroom to his time in office.
“I’m using the organizational skills and public speaking skills that I learned from CBU and (drawing on) my faith as well,” said Gutierrez, 28. “(I’m also) reading my Bible every day and knowing that all my trust is in the Lord, even for decisions I make.”
However, the consequences of his predecessor continue to affect him professionally.
“During council meetings sometimes you’ll hear people saying negative things and you have to grow a thick skin,” Gutierrez said.
The CBU alumnus said he has received angry emails from constituents saying he is not their councilman because he is likely no different than Co. He said people have even followed him home.
Nevertheless, this has not stopped Gutierrez from trying to get the city of Moreno Valley back on track.
Gutierrez is implementing two pilot programs that will benefit the education system and the general public. The first program involves implementing music and arts back into middle schools, and the second involves city-wide camera surveillance to fight against the high crime rate.
“It’s a struggle because it is a big responsibility that I have,” Gutierrez said.
He said he believes that his dedication to the people of Moreno Valley will hopefully recover the support of the residents in his district.
“I think that the people will see the fruits of my labor, all the great work I will be doing and my transparency with the residents,” he said.
Once he addresses these concerns, Gutierrez said his other goals include reducing unemployment, keeping arts and music programs in schools and eventually running for mayor of Moreno Valley.