SANTA ANA, CA — Welcome to the Santa Ana Riverbed, one of southern California’s largest homeless encampments.
In a day and age when candidates spend big and hold grand events, this Filipino American candidate is taking the grassroots approach through these tents.
He’s 90 percent blind, but 28-year-old Filipino American Jestin Samson has a vision.
The 2016 Bernie Sanders delegate is running for the California State Senate’s 34th district in Orange County, a region where 21 percent of the population is Asian.
“My campaign is not only about giving representation to the people who don’t have a voice, but it’s also to give a shot to the Democratic Party that it desperately needs grassroots momentum as we move on past 2018,” said Samson.
A child of Filipino immigrants, Samson has overcome a lot — from his disability, to a broken family, mounting student debt, and the loss of his mother to cancer.
Rather than dwell on past hardships, the Cal State Fullerton graduate decided to take action.
“I got involved with Bernie Sanders because I actually saw his speech when he won the New Hampshire primary, and I saw his vision for America. I felt like hey, that coincides with my values. I believe in healthcare as a human right, I believe in college tuition should be free.”
He launched his campaign for the 2018 race by giving out food to the homeless residents that live along the Santa Ana river bed, many of whom know him personally.
“I see this trail as a symbol of the failures of our government,” he said. “I’ve walked this trail, I’ve spoken to many voters in my district and a lot of them are clamoring for things that our government has given us.”
He’s also taking his grassroots style when it comes to donors.
The Fil-Am who worked as his mother’s caregiver and for several non-profit groups plans to raise money a few dollars at a time through personal supporters who share his same vision.