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Two political newcomers vying for Mabton City Council seat

MABTON - Two Mabton residents have decided that after years of living in the community they were ready to test their political savvy and run for public office. Angel Reyna and Sophia Gutierrez-Sotelo, who are both running for Mabton City Council position three, are newcomers to the political arena.

Both Reyna and Sotelo said they decided to take the leap and run for office because they want to get more involved in the community they have lived in since they were children.

Reyna, 28, said his sister is very involved in the community and her involvement helped spark his interest in working to improve Mabton.

"I want to be involved more in what's going on," Reyna said.

He added that he thinks one of the main issues plaguing the Mabton City Council is a lack of communication between the council and the community. He said one way to solve this would be to hold the meetings in Spanish, noting that 89 percent of Mabton's residents are Hispanic.

"Language is a barrier," Reyna said.

He added that he thinks it's important for council members to reach out to the community. He said many of the issues that come up in the community spring from miscommunication. Reyna, who holds a Master's degree in educational administration, said people get upset because their water bill is too high, but they don't have anyone who will explain to them why their bill is as much as it is.

"Just simple things like that," Reyna said, pointing to improvements that could be made in the city.

Reyna, a 1995 Mabton High School graduate, said he'd also like to see Mabton's annual Community Days event improved. He said he thinks the event is something that could help spark community pride. In addition, Reyna said he'd like to see the city take on more activities, noting that a farmers market would be a nice addition to Mabton.

But bringing new events into Mabton isn't Reyna's only concern. He said he would also like to see more business come into town.

"We need to bring some new jobs to the community," Reyna said.

He added that he would like to see a business that doesn't rely on the area's agriculture industry, and would instead like to see a business come in that offers more vocational jobs.

Sotelo, 38, said she was persuaded to run for office by other members of the community. She said she finally agreed to run because she wants to see what she can give back to the community.

"I want to be a voice for the community," Sotelo said.

Sotelo, who works part time at the Mabton Post Office, said if elected she wants residents to know that they can bring their concerns to her and she will relay them to the council.

Sotelo said she thinks there are a variety of issues facing the small community. She said she'd like to see improvements made to the city's parks, noting that she would like to see the public facilities be better maintained and made more attractive.

Another issue Sotelo feels strongly about is the condition of the roads in Mabton.

"I've heard a lot from friends that the roads are bad," Sotelo said. She added that it's her understanding that there are grants out there the city could apply for to help improve the condition of the city's roadways.

"If I get elected I want to look into that," Sotelo said of the grant money.

Sotelo added that she would also like to see translation services at Mabton City Council meetings. Sotelo said many people don't go to council meetings because they don't understand what is being said.

"They don't go because of the lack of translation," Sotelo said.

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