BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A young man in Belen is making history, becoming the youngest ever councilor-elect in the city. KRQE News 13 spoke with him Wednesday about his plans to move the city forward.
Danny Bernal Jr. is not your average 21-year-old.
“This is my new home,” he said.
The Belen High School graduate has been to every city council meeting since he was 18. Now, he is the youngest councilor-elect in Belen’s history.
“It is truly an honor to be elected at this age and elected by the people I love,” he said.
While he currently works as a supervisor for a company that does background investigations, he said helping his community has always been his passion.
His motivation to be a councilor came from growing up right here in the heart of New Mexico.
“The city’s decline,” he said. “Ever since I have been little, I have noticed businesses closing down and closing down.”
He ran on the platform of growing the city, improving the streets and staffing the police department. He beat out an opponent who’s held the position for more than a decade.
“I think it means our citizens are ready to move forward,” he said. “I would not say we are stuck in our old ways. I am proof.”
While some around town say they like Belen just the way it is, others are ready for change.
“He probably knows a lot more than the older folks,” Belen resident Yvonne Vallejos said. “I think there is going to be some good things coming out of it.”
“With a councilor that young of an age, it will keep kids off the streets,” resident Dolores Gallegos said. “He will be a good influence for other kids his age and younger.”
“I hope others are inspired by me running for city council and winning a seat, and want to get involved in their communities and vote,” he said.
He ran last year too, but he lost. He will officially become councilor on January 1.