Hector Valdez has been told that he doesn't have a chance at winning a seat on the Huntington Beach City Council. But the first-time candidate welcomes such comments.
The 42-year-old Huntington Beach tattoo artist, known to many as "HEK," said he wants to represent blue-collar residents and hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the dais.
"I'm not your average politician. In fact, I'm not a politician, and I think that's what's appealing to people," he said. "I've got a beard. Beards are cool right now. I've got some tattoos, and people love tattoos."
Valdez is one of 11 candidates vying for four available City Council seats in the Nov. 4 election. He is originally from Chino but has lived in Surf City for about 19 years. He has a wife and two sons.
He has worked as a tattoo artist in the city for about 16 years and is currently at The Tattoo Gallery, near Beach Boulevard and Adams Avenue.
Valdez said he was inspired to run for the council after reading about Huntington Beach issues on several Facebook pages.
"I got frustrated at the way things were being handled," he said. "I've never been one to stand on the sidelines, so I felt like I should do my part to make this community the best it could be. I just jumped into it head-first."
The novice candidate acknowledged that he may not have a large campaign war chest, but he is looking at alternative means for collecting donations such as social media and the help of his friend Johnny Kresimir, owner of Johnny's Saloon, to reach out to voters.
"What I lack in money we make up in different areas," Valdez said. "We have to be creative. We have no other choice. I don't foresee myself raising $20,000 to $40,000, but can we go out there and pound the pavement and utilize social media like no other candidate? Yes we can."
Valdez said he wants to focus on bringing diverse businesses to Huntington Beach. He said establishments like Costa Mesa's The OC Mart Mix and The Camp could bring a more eclectic flavor to Surf City.
"It would bring a whole new demographic to our city," Valdez said. "I go to The OC Mart Mix or The Lab because it's different, artsy and you're not going to see the same type of people in that establishment. Why isn't there a desire to bring that into the city? Do you know how many people would come to Huntington Beach if we had a Portola [Coffee Lab]?"
With two months left in the council race, Valdez said he is eager to listen to residents, city employees and business owners about their concerns and find a way to address them should he be elected.
"I said I was going to run for City Council, so I'm going to do it," he said. "I go through with whatever I say I'm going to do. I've never run for public office or have any political experience, but that isn't a bad thing. You see things with fresh eyes."