Longtime commissioner paved way for street project

Isidro Garcia has represented southeastern Clovis — District 2 — for more than 19 years. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Inside the stucco home Isidro Garcia built is a wall that tells of his service as a city commissioner. More than a dozen certificates hang there, inches away from color photographs that, too, serve as evidence of his lengthy tenure.

Garcia has represented the southeastern swath of Clovis — District 2 — for more than 19 years.

“I was fixing to retire,” said Garcia from his kitchen table, “and people asked me to run. People had been asking me to run before that, but I didn’t feel I could do justice to the position while I was working.”

In black sneakers, a button-down shirt and blue jeans, Garcia still appears the quintessential working man, although more than a decade has passed since his retirement as the manager of a credit union.

The 76-year-old built his home with his two hands in 1949. He plotted it next to his father’s so he could care for the man, who had grown blind in his old age. Before he landed his banking position, he eked out a living by farming with his father, and later, in meat-packing plants, as a janitor and on the railroad.

He was among roughly 400 railroad workers who were laid-off when the railroad industry turned from steam to diesel for fuel.

“When I started walking, I started working,” said Garcia, who was born into a family of 12, raised five boys of his own, and has 17 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

“I am a working person. So, I know what it is like to have hardships. I am always trying to fight to keep down rates (for city services). I don’t think that is right.”

No wonder Garcia wasn’t worn down by a fight for a street in his district that lasted for 16 years.

For most of his tenure, Garcia lobbied for Seventh Street to be paved. The busy road, three blocks from his home, was in disarray, Garcia said. The project, which paved about three miles of the road, was completed last year. Garcia calls the accomplishment the grandest of his commission career.

“I was just happy, period,” said Garcia, in a level voice, nearly always soft and low.

In a nod to Garcia, commissioners have designated Seventh Street, from Main Street to Moreno Drive, “Isidro S. Garcia Way.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Garcia Way will be held today at the Veterans Park.

“When other projects came up that seemed to be more critical at the time, (Garcia) was patient. He has been steadfast in seeing that project come to fruition,” Mayor David Lansford said.

Of the street name, Garcia simply said, “It feels good.” Candid comments are usual of the commissioner.

In his next four-year term, Garcia plans to lobby for the completion of a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard overpass.

“There are people who cannot get to work when a train comes by,” he said.

He also wants to ensure his district “gets its fair share of improvements,” said Garcia, who isn’t sure he will seek another term.

“They tell me if I stay busy, I will live longer,” he joked.

When Garcia remarried, he and his wife decided to stay put in the stucco home Garcia built so long ago. If they had moved into his wife’s more spacious home, Garcia could no longer serve in District 2, he explained.

The commissioner’s wife, Rose, can also make light of her husband’s dedication.

“If he had a tail, it would wiggle whenever politics were discussed,” she laughed.