Editor’s note: This is part of a series on candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election
Art Mercado is running for the Buellton City Council, District 4 against David Silva. Mr. Mercado previously served on the council from 2014-2018 and has served on the planning commission for the past 16 years. He is currently the vice chair of the commission and has previously chaired the commission twice.
“I grew up on a family farm where you start young doing chores and having responsibilities. I have a great work ethic and I always come prepared. I have the ability to use common sense and look at a problem from both sides and make a decision to go forward,” Mr. Mercado told the News-Press.
Throughout his career, he has managed several large farms, including Mandy’s Land Farms and Wichita Equine; he also worked as an assistant trainer for D. Wayne Lukas. Additionally, he served as the general manager for Creston Farms, owned by Alex Trebek, one of the largest equine export farms on the West Coast. He says his career has made him adept at coordinating and meeting deadlines as well as working with the USDA.
“I graduated from SYVUHS and after living in Texas for five years, have spent the last 34 years in Santa Ynez Valley, 28 of them as a resident and homeowner in Buellton. My business background has always been in agriculture. First, in the horse industry, I learned at my father’s side and then developing and managing both large and small equine farms. Currently, I work in landscaping and irrigation. I am intimately aware of the challenges of managing businesses within California. After raising two children here, I have remained involved in youth sports activities by serving on the YFL Board, and BBQing for the high school football boosters as my way of giving back to the community,” Mr. Mercado told the News-Press in a statement.
The News-Press asked Mr. Mercado about his goals if elected to the council: “My wife and I have lived in Buellton for the past 28 years and raised our children here. We are now grandparents and we frequent events and utilize the parks in Buellton. My goals include:
safety, small neighborhood community and variety of businesses.
“For three terms I have served on the Buellton Planning Commission giving me the background, experience and understanding of the complex regulatory workings of a city and the new housing guidelines set by the state … Decisions must be carefully balanced to best meet the needs and opportunities for the community while weighing the lasting fiscal impacts on residents. As a longtime resident of the valley, I bring the perspectives of a planning commissioner, businessman, citizen, parent and grandparent to the table. Election to the city council would be an honor and provide the opportunity for me to continue to serve in this important role for the citizens of Buellton,” said Mr. Mercado.
The News-Press asked Mr. Mercado why he felt he was better for the seat than his opponent: “Serving on the planning commission has allowed me to understand the process of financial and legal implications made. We want to see focus on state responsibilities versus the county. We need to make recommendations to state and county agencies that make decisions that affect the city. For example, issues of cannabis and selling flavored tobacco. I think with the recession coming we need to look at fiscal responsibility.
“I have no hidden agenda. I am doing this for my family and the citizens of Buellton because we consider them family. During the pandemic, revenue was down for Buellton. We have to be prepared financially and be careful how we spend. We need to plan and stay on budget for the city,” said Mr. Mercado.
Mr. Mercado gave the following statement to the News-Press: “My candidacy is based on a strong commitment to my community demonstrated through my experience and service, and the desire to see Buellton continue to prosper. Buellton is a city composed of people of all ages and walks of life, each with their own perspectives and needs. A city council member must be able to look at the entire picture to make sound decisions about the direction of the city. Safeguarding resources, collaboration and representation of all community.
“I think Buellton is a unique small city with financial stability and excellent amenities. There is always room for improvement and growth, but it must be done in a fiscally responsible manner to preserve what we have grown here. I think strong leadership has gotten us to where we are today and will take us to the future,” said Mr. Mercado.