Six candidates are seeking a total of two seats that will be open in the November election for city council. This week and next week, The Journal will present a closer look at the candidates, three men and three women who hope to service the community from the vantage point of a council position. This week, Jeanette Zamora-Bragg and Debra Kwast are in the spotlight.
A third-generation Corcoran resident Jeanette Zamora-Bragg attended local schools before heading to Holy Names University in Oakland to obtain a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She then returned to the Central Valley to work as a site director for Catholic Charities.
The California Department of Corrections then beckoned and she has been employed as a government analyst at SATF for almost a decade. She also moved back to Corcoran, this time with a husband and two children.
She decided now was a good time to run for city council, since she wanted the opportunity to serve the city that she said has served her so well.
“It’s a chance for me to give back, while providing the voice of a younger generation,” said Zamora-Bragg, who is 33. “As the mother of two children, I want to help ensure Corcoran remains a viable option for my children when they grow up.”
Zamora-Bragg added that she shares concerns regarding water with many of Corcoran’s citizens. She is also a public safety advocate and is concerned for the city’s aging infrastructure.
“Considering the state is in an ongoing drought, and the city has been mandated to restrict water use—and the fact that we are one of the largest agricultural regions in the state—we need a common sense approach to water usage,” she commented.
She wants to make sure the streets, drains, telecommunications networks and electrical grids are functioning and working at a pace to move the community forward. Land-use regulations and redevelopment should also be performing at top standards. That’s something she understands well, since her job is to make sure her institution complies with standards, laws and guidelines.
When she’s not working towards those goals, Jeanette likes to spend time with her family and enjoys family vacations.
Debra Kwast hopes to bring a business point of view to the city council. She has owned and operated local businesses in Corcoran, starting with Images Photography, for about 38 years.
A Central Valley girl, Kwast grew up in Fresno County before moving to Corcoran with husband, Terry, and raising her three children here. She volunteered for the local 4-H program in several capacities for many years, taking over the local program and serving the organization at both county and state levels.
She recently made a bid for the county supervisor seat that fell short, but said she received so much support in that effort that she decided to try for one of the two openings on the city council.
“When I started thinking about it, I received a lot of encouragement,” she noted.
With all the budget-tightening, Kwast said the city needs to make good business decisions.
Kwast said she is aware that many local businesses struggle and that the city needs to keep that in mind when seeking additional support from business. She called for the city to control wage increases and benefits in order to balance its budget.
“It’s difficult to expect more from the community, from local businesses, when everyone is hurting,” said Kwast.
She added that the ongoing water crisis is one Corcoran faces with the remainder of the Central Valley. While local efforts should be applauded and encouraged, long-term solutions will need to be provided by federal and state legislation.
“We can all do our part, but the federal government needs to address this issue if there is to be any improvements overall for this entire region,” said Kwast.
When she’s not working, Kwast enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren, three of whom make their home in Corcoran, attending local schools.