By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN
Redlands Career Spotlight is a weekly series in which ETHIC interviews a Redlands professional and asks him or her about their education, career, hobbies and more in order to give readers a more nuanced view into job prospects after high school. This week, ETHIC had the privilege of interviewing Redlands mayor, city councilman, congressman and University of Redlands alumnus Pete Aguilar.
Q: What is your profession, and how long have you been working?
A: I represent California’s 31st Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. The district includes the cities of Redlands, San Bernardino, Grand Terrace, Rancho Cucamonga, Loma Linda and Colton as well as portions of Rialto, Fontana and Upland. I was elected to my first two-year term in 2014, and was reelected in 2016. Before serving in Congress, I was the mayor of Redlands from 2010 to 2014, and served on the city council from 2006 to 2010.
Q: Where did you get your education? Did you enjoy your time in college?
A: I grew up right here in the Inland Empire, and I have always loved living here. So when I graduated from Yucaipa High School, I looked for local schools and decided on the University of Redlands. It was a great fit for me, and the friends I made there are still some of my best friends today.
Q: Was your job something you always wanted to do?
A: Public service has always been important to me. My first job was actually working in the cafeteria at the courthouse in San Bernardino, so I have always had a respect for working to help others. When I first ran for the Redlands City Council, I did it because I thought I could be a voice for young families in the community. I always knew I’d end up doing something where I was standing up for families in our community, but I never thought I would end up in Congress. It has been a privilege to advocate for the entire Inland Empire.
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: The toughest part for me is being away from home so much. We are in Washington, D.C. for almost half the year, so that is a lot of time away from my family. I hate missing the soccer games and PTA meetings, so I definitely prefer the days I am working in the district.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: The best part of this job is giving Inland Empire families a voice in Washington. This is a region that sometimes gets overlooked in the national conversation, and it is my job to change that. Our community has a lot to offer, and I love being able to make sure that we get a seat at the table.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about your line of work?
A: The biggest misconception is that the two parties do not get along. The truth is, I have formed some great relationships with people from all over the country on both sides of the aisle. Republican or Democrat, I think most of the people here in Congress have good intentions and are working hard to help their communities.
Q: Do you have any advice for high school students?
A: My advice is to not be afraid to get involved. Whether it is at your school or in your community, do not be afraid to take a leadership role on an issue you are passionate about. The best way to affect change is to have a conversation, so it is important to engage with your peers, teachers and parents if there is when you believe in a cause.
Q: What is your favorite location in Redlands?
A: My favorite spot has got to be State Street. The mix of the old and new businesses, all the history and culture that is represented, it is just a really great snapshot of our city as a whole. But I can also be seen at El Burrito or Saverino’s quite often when I’m in town.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: Whenever I get a free moment I am with my kids. Whether we are playing sports, camping, hiking or just hanging out on the couch, there is nothing I love more than spending time with those guys.