Sanger women’s commission gathers first members


Sanger’s Commission to Advance the Status of Women and Girls comes together to bring a new perspective to city matters

SANGER – The seats for Sanger’s first women’s commission have been filled to expand opportunities for girls and women in the city.
Thus far, five women have been selected to take roles on Sanger’s Commission to Advance the Status of Women and Girls. The commission consists of six members overall, with four women representing each of Sanger’s four districts, a member representing the city at large and a youth member representing Sanger’s youth community at large.
“Sometimes women’s and girls’ perspectives get drowned out with all of the other perspectives that we’re getting, so this provides the city an opportunity to drill down to women and girls and hear what they’re saying and listen to what, specifically, they feel women’s and girl’s issues are,” Sanger’s city manager Tim Chapa said.
The women were anointed at the March 2 Sanger City Council meeting, but the position for the district two seat is currently vacant. Chapa said it will be filled at a later date as an addition to the meeting’s consent calendar, which consists of items that council can vote to pass in one motion unless an item is pulled for further discussion. The commission will act in an advisory capacity to Sanger City Council and draw attention to matters pertaining to the feminine side of Sanger’s community.
To get a spot on the commission, community members must apply for the role or accept a nomination to take the seat of their residing district. Marisela Rodriguez, Karen Pearson and Delilah Elizondo were nominated into the district one, district three and district four seats. The adult-at-large member Breanna Trejo and the youth-at-large member Alyssa Tarango applied and were selected for their positions.
According to Chapa, Marisela Rodriguez is a lifelong Sanger resident who, upon graduating high school, went straight into the marines and served for about six years.
“She talked about how that perspective influenced her to do something not just for her country, but now her community and that she’s hoping her participation in the commission will allow her to give back and do more for the community,” Chapa said.
He said Karen Pearson and Delilah Elizondo are both well-known individuals among the Sanger community for their active status and participation in city issues. Both are particularly active on the business-side of the city’s operations, as Pearson is the CEO of the Sanger Chamber of Commerce and Elizondo is a successful business owner of Gourmet Goodies.
From what she wrote in her application, Chapa said Breanna Trejo applied for the seat because she has observed an age gap when it comes to community support.
“She isn’t quite in that ‘youth’ category but she’s bridging that gap and she’s wanting to bring that ‘gap’ perspective to the commission,” Chapa said.
Trejo is a Fresno Pacific student who is a year away from receiving her bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on culture and diversity. For her current activities, she is involved with the Sanger Women’s Club, Set Free Sanger, the Grace Community Church and the Sanger Depot Museum.
Alyssa Tarango, the youth-at-large member who is meant to bring a teenage perspective to the commission, is a senior at Sanger High School. According to her submission, she is an active member in various school clubs and applied for the commission because she is interested in taking on a broader role in the community.
Sanger first decided to establish the Commission to Advance the Status of Women and Girls in November. This was following a grant received from the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CCSWG), which sent out grant applications in January 2022. The grant is part of the 2022 CCSWG Women’s Recovery Response Grant Opportunity, which supports the existing and emerging needs of Californian women disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city received the grant in order to establish a local commission on the status of women for Sanger to improve representation and input on issues impacting women and girls—one of the three criteria mentioned in the staff report for receiving the grant. To get the commission up and going, the city was awarded $25,000 from the grant.
“That’s what we’ve been doing for the last year,” Chapa said. “The intent of that grant is to get these commission members with their different perspectives together so they can start discussing and identifying issues.”
According to Chapa, the money from the grant is to be used for whatever the commission needs in terms of training or to bring in a consultant if they need to. Once the commission members start figuring out what issues they need to address and what projects they want to tackle, Chapa said the city can apply for additional grants from the CCSWG to fund them, which can reach up to a quarter of a million dollars.
The application for the grant was submitted by local advocate Eve Castellanos, Ed. D. (doctorate in education) on behalf of the city. Chapa said she informed one of the council members of the opportunity because she thought there was a need for a women’s commission in the city. With her experience, she offered to help the city in putting the grant application together.
“I can only surmise that, as a resident of Sanger and as a professional herself, she would hope that establishing this commission could help to guide women and girls to get appropriate assistance and support so that they can achieve the same professional opportunities she had,” Chapa said.
According to Chapa, the city is in the process of reaching out to Castellanos to see if she is interested in becoming the liaison for Sanger’s women’s commission. This is so the commission has some external guidance in their operations and to have another form of communication between the membership and city council. If she is not interested, he said the responsibility could fall onto a city staff member.
Since it is still early in the process, Chapa said it is uncertain when the women’s commission will meet, or how frequently they will hold meetings. The role of a chair and vice chair will also be established at a later point once the commission is more established and the members are able to take a vote on it.