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Meet Melissa May, running for House of Representatives, California, District 35

District 35 includes Ontario, Pomona, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, and parts of Eastville, Chino, Montclair, and Chino Hills. 

Melissa is an educator, a civil rights activist, a disability advocate, and a leader with a deep familial history within her district and a strong connection to her community members.

When asked about her core identity, Melissa reflected on her role in the response to a recent heartbreaking church fire within her district. As the founder and coordinator of the Ontario Future Alliance, Melissa witnessed the collaborative efforts of the multiple nonprofits under this coalition to uplift the Pomona community who suffered this loss. This includes civil rights nonprofits such as the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Malo, a Pacific Islander nonprofit. In a remarkable display of solidarity, the alliance promptly mobilized to donate toys and raise funds for a church’s toy drive impacted by the fire, showcasing the resilient and compassionate spirit that defines Melissa’s community-focused initiatives. Melissa celebrates each organization’s collective strengths and unity, demonstrating their capacity to stand together during challenging times.

Commitment to community service runs deep in Melissa’s family. In 1992, her family initiated the Montclair Challenger Little League, which is dedicated to children with disabilities. Over 14 years, they actively served families in Montclair, Chino, and Ontario, focusing on ensuring a better life for children facing disabilities. Melissa’s involvement was born from her love for her brother, who had cerebral palsy. After her brother’s passing at 24, Melissa took up the mantle, organizing a regional softball tournament to raise funds for the Challenger Little League. Despite roadblocks during the recession, the tournament honored her brother’s memory and successfully safeguarded the league from closure, ensuring its continued presence in the community.

Melissa recognizes critical issues within her community surrounding environmental justice and education in the Inland Empire. As the Deputy District Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, she advocates for civil rights, particularly highlighting the pressing concern of limited job opportunities beyond warehouse employment. Another main challenge lies in the adverse environmental and health impacts caused by this district’s disproportionate concentration of warehouses. Melissa, drawing on her background as an environmental science teacher, articulates the severe health consequences of diesel exhaust from excessive truck trips, emphasizing links to lung cancer, heart disease, autism, reproductive issues, and dementia. The lack of scientific understanding among elected officials and campaign donations from warehouses contribute to detrimental policy decisions that compromise public health. Melissa shares a personal experience of enduring a five-hour wait in a crowded emergency room, underscoring the urgent need for systemic change to address healthcare disparities in the region.

In envisioning an ideal future for her community, Melissa dreams of transforming it into a hub of innovation, diverse careers, and vibrant green spaces. She envisions breaking stereotypes surrounding blue-collar work and fostering a culture where residents pursue fulfilling careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Melissa aims to establish accessible STEM centers in every city, providing families with enrichment opportunities and teachers with the resources to inspire a love for science. Her dream extends to building a children’s science museum in Ontario, creating a valuable educational asset while generating jobs, and turning the city into a thriving tourist destination, leveraging its proximity to the airport and upcoming high-speed rail.

Melissa has a sweet mixed-breed dog named Maya, who loves napping and digging holes in the backyard! She moved back to her childhood home to care for her mom, and Maya is a delightful part of their lives. During the pandemic, Melissa picked up painting as a hobby and expanded her creative skills even further, adding to her current skill set!

When you think about Melissa, think of a trailblazer with a heart painted in the colors of her community. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty – on the baseball field, in the heart of civil rights battles, or wielding a paintbrush while creating something beautiful.

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