Javier Lopez is looking forward to the next challenge in his life.
Results have not been finalized, but it appears Lopez will be the next mayor of Ceres.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Lopez, 37. “A lot of people say I don’t have experience. But I pay attention to politics.”
Lopez, who coaches freshman football at Central Valley High School, stunned former Ceres High School varsity football/baseball leader Bret Durossette during the Nov. 3 election.
Lopez, a political newcomer, and Durossette, a Ceres councilmember for the past 13 years, were vying to succeed Chris Vierra, who decided to not seek re-election.
In unofficial results on Election Day, Lopez received 5,187 votes (53.93 percent) to Durossette’s 4,431 votes (46.07 percent).
Lopez’s lead increased to 946 votes (6,339-5,393) last Friday according to the Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters website.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” said Lopez, who spent election night at home with his wife Estefania. “Of course, it wasn’t expected. Everybody was surprised. In the end, it’s what the people wanted. A lot of people distrust politicians. I want to change that. One of my strengths as a leader is being able to communicate with people. I haven’t got to where I am by winging it.”
According to Lopez, young people and Latinos contributed to his victory, along with other populations.
“That was a factor,” he said. “I’m glad they’re engaged and encouraged. They’re looking for something new. I hope I do motivate them.”
“A lot of people are excited to see me win this election and are excited because I am Latino,” Lopez added. “But I’m not going to cater to just one group. I’m going to fight for everybody. I’m going to look out for everybody. That’s how it should be.”
Lopez has no experience in city governance.
“There’s going to be a lot of learning curves ahead,” he said. “I’ll adapt really quickly. You have to look at everything and make tough decisions. I can handle pressure. Being under pressure happens in my trade.”
“I want to bridge the gap between the city and community members,” Lopez added. “Being transparent is important. If we can start a committee that will tackle the homeless problem, that would be great. Clean and safe streets will be my top priority.”
Lopez started coaching football at Central Valley during the 2017-18 school year.
He helped coach flag football at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High for two seasons.
“Before that, the game of football is something I watched,” Lopez said. “I’m a 49ers fan. I had a lot to learn. It (coaching) changed my life. It helped me grow. It allowed me to see things differently. Not everybody comes from the same background. In this sport, everybody becomes family. Sometimes, you’re coaching these kids longer than they’re spending time with their families. I really enjoy it.”
Lopez attended the following schools in Ceres: Ceres High, Blaker-Kinser Jr. High and Westport Elementary.
He moved to the Modesto/Ceres area with his parents at the age of seven.
Lopez was born in Los Angeles.
Both of his parents are from Mexico.
“I grew up in Parklawn,” he said. “That was my neighborhood. It’s on the other side of Hatch Road.”
Lopez works as a senior fire suppression technician for Fremont-based Red Hawk Fire Security.
He commutes to the Bay Area five days a week.
Lopez leaves Ceres at 4:30 each morning.
He doesn’t get home until 8 at night during the football season.
Ceres City Council meeting are staged on the second and fourth Mondays each month at 6 p.m.
“Football has taught me to manage my schedule,” Lopez said. “I’m used to having long days. This (being mayor) is a priority. I want people to judge me based on my actions and not from what they hear. I will make the right decisions. The city of Ceres has so much potential. We’re turning a new page.”