Fernando

Fernando, a District Representative, explains how his role in local government encompasses outreach, administration, and staffing. Find out how he handles his budget on the go.

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My name is
Fernando Morales, I'm 27,
FERNANDO, 27
DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, CA STATE SENATOR BEN ALLEN

and I'm a representative

for State Senator
Ben Allen's office.

My main responsibilities,

I would say that the first one
would be outreach,

and that's about 60%
FERNANDO’S REPSONSIBILITIES:

of my responsibilities
in the office.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH

And that's going
to community meetings,
ATTEND COMMUNITY EVENTS

whether it's a chamber meeting

or a neighborhood council

or a homeowner's association.

Hearing what the issues are there,

whether it's
homelessness in Hollywood

or transportation
in the mid-city area.
LISTEN TO CONSTITUTEN ISSUES

And really getting to have my hand

to the pulse of the community

so that I can
communicate that to the senator.

A lot of the times, that involves

speaking on his behalf
SPEAK ON BEHALF OF SENATOR

when he is in Sacramento
for the legislative session.

So, I get to be his proxy
in many ways,

which is exciting and a little--

It drives a little anxiety
when I have to public speak,

but I do enjoy doing
that part of my job.

Another 30% of my
responsibilities in the office,

I would say, are mostly
administrative or clerical.

Whether it's planning

or setting up
logistics for events,

producing letters or certificates
for community members,
ADMINISTRATIVE/CLERICAL WORK
PLAN AND SET UP EVENTS
CREATE OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

whether it's a graduation,

Eagle Scouts,
or whatever it may be.

Making sure that I can complete
that for those constituents.

The last 10% is
staffing the senator,

which means attending with him
to different community events.
STAFFING THE SENATOR

Letting him know
PREP THE SENATOR FOR EVENTS

which community members
have the questions

and the concerns.

And making sure that
he can address them

and go to them to get to,
you know,

have some one-on-one
time and hear them out.

No one day is the same at my job,

and I tend to enjoy that.

Back when I was younger,

I had this fantasy
of having this job

in which I went to sleep
in a different place

than where I woke up,

it was just constantly moving.

Little did I realize I could
do that in the same place,

it's just every
minute of the day,

and every different
day is different

regarding which event
I could attend.

The communities that I represent
are so diverse,

that there's just
such a wide array

of issues and conversations.

So I could be, at night,

at a gala for a non-profit,

or, you know, I could be
at a neighborhood council meeting

talking about planning
and some of the issues

that the constituents
have been encountering there.

So, there's a very wide range,

and a lot of the times,
it leaks into nights

and very early
mornings, sometimes,

weekends, but I mean,
it's all different,

so at least it
never gets boring.

District representatives,
on average,

make about anywhere from

35,000 dollars to 50,000,
55,000 dollars.

In my particular case,

I had some experience
beforehand in public relations,

and I've been in this similar
position for about three years.

One year of that
in the State Assembly.

So, my current salary is
about 43,000 dollars or so.

Whenever I was told I had the job,

I was asked what salary
I was expecting

or what I would need,

and I actually significantly
undershot them,

just from being
paid hourly before.

I said, “Look, I'll take 30,000.”

And then, you know,
they laughed for a second

and said, “Oh no,
we were gonna give you 35.

We just thought you were
gonna go higher.”

So, if I had been
a little savvier,

I'm sure I could have
started up a little higher.

My job comes with great benefits

when it comes to healthcare,

dental, and vision,

and, you know, it's not
the most competitive pay.

So I think that is something

that needs to be taken
into consideration as well.

Other than the benefits,

there are some perks to the job,

and the perks would include

having access to certain
people that know,

and they're the specialists
of whatever field they're in.

You know, I could talk
to a professor at UCLA

who's been doing

groundbreaking research
on neurobiology.

I could talk to a CEO
of a tech company

in the Silicon Beach
community that's growing.

At some point, I could talk to
the Secretary of California,

Secretary of the State
Alex Padilla, and I have.

And it's really exciting to be able
to hear directly from people

that are affecting that change
in whatever it may be.

My history really begins
FERNANDO, 27
DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, CA STATE SENATOR BEN ALLEN

when I moved to the United States
from Venezuela in fifth grade.

During that time, Hugo Chavez

had come into power
in Venezuela.

And my mother and father
didn't feel comfortable about

what my safety situation
was going to look like

in the following years.

So, I moved in
with my mother in Virginia.

At that time,
I didn't know any English.

I didn't really know how
things worked socially,

so something as silly as asking
a girl that I liked to hang out

ended up with me asking her
to grab coffee in fifth grade.

So as I went through
middle school and high school,

I started getting more of an idea

of what I needed to do in class,

for the language,

and socially I started
making some friends.

I personally didn't know
what the plan was

or what people were
supposed to do.

My father in Venezuela
was a doctor

and my mother
had studied education.

However, she didn't know how

the system worked
here specifically,

so it wasn't something
that we talked about at home.

However, my friends at the time,

they were all planning for college.

It was a very affluent area,

and I think I was very
privileged and lucky to be able

to be around them.

I didn't come from
particular wealth,

but being around them

gave me that drive

to say,
“I want to be with my friends.

Where are they going?
They're going to college.

Where are they going to college?”

And I ended up attending

James Madison
University in Virginia.

I studied philosophy,
I studied sociology,

and psychology as my major finally.

And I personally think that

the sociology and philosophy
that I studied in college

was really helpful

just in taking a step back

and seeing the different
perspectives.

And trying to really step into
other people's shoes

and see how, whether or not
you agree with them,

they arrived at that perspective

through their own looking glass.

And that means their experiences

throughout their life.

So no matter what,
you can't be angry at somebody.

You can only hope to understand it

and see how you
can be of assistance.

When I graduated college,

I really hadn't made a plan

for what would happen after.

I wasn't going to grad school.

I wanted to take some time.

However, with psychology

if you don't start
in your internships

to plan for grad school
and start applying,

there aren't really a lot of options

after graduating
with your undergrad.

So I went back home
to live with my mother.

I ended up staying on her couch.

And it was great to see my mom

and my sisters again more,

but it gave me a little bit
more drive to say,

“I think it's time for me

to go somewhere else.”

And not really have a safety net,

maybe not look for a job

that a family member
or a friend was gonna give me,

but really look for something
that gave me more meaning.

So I moved to
Los Angeles at the time.

My girlfriend from college
was living here,

so that made
the transition a lot easier.

I originally moved with $400.

After I bought the ticket
that's what I had left.

So it was a little
tough at first,

but I found a job working at

Camino Nuevo Charter
Academy doing--

Not behavior
interventions at first,

it was
a teacher assistant position.

But I worked with my boss

and kinda sold them
on some of the things that

I thought that we
could do for the kids

to improve the time that the kids
spent in the classrooms.

And maybe to decrease
some of the time

that the kids were spending
outside of the classroom.

So, I was able to
transition that role

to a teacher assistant

and behavior
intervention assistant.

After Camino Nuevo,

my boss, who was very helpful
in letting me define

what my role was there,

he told me after
the first year and a half,

he said, “Look, if you
don't leave this year,

I'm gonna have to fire you.

You need to find a path,

and you need to start looking
for something.

And I don't think that it will
be education at this level.

I think that you can work
more on the policy aspect

and kind of planning
at that larger level.”

So, he introduced me to his
previous public relations job.

The company called
Sorrell Associates.

And I started a temporary
position internship with them,

getting to work on all
different types of issues

including education,

but whether it's land use

and access campaigns
and communications,

crisis management.

So I really got to sample

a lot of different issues
on the private sector.

After about seven months,

one of my bosses there

got a call from
a previous vice president

over at their company

who was now the
district director.

So the manager
for a legislative office.

And she said,
“Hey, do you have any people,

any interns there,
anyone in the office

that you think would be
a good fit to do outreach,

that is bilingual?”

And I was recommended
and I went on my first interview.

Obviously, it was assisted

and I think they were
cheering for me.

So I was offered the job
after talking a little bit

about what I did at the school.

District representatives,
on average

did not need to study
or particularly study

political science or sociology.

For that matter,
there's no test to get in.

There's no application other
than the job application.

There's not certification.

But the general track

that most people take there

is once they begin
to get involved with politics,

they volunteer on campaigns.

They engage as
unpaid volunteers first

and really get to
grow with candidates.

And then when candidates
transition into elected office,

they're bringing some of the people

that were essential
to their team.

For district representatives,

there are three or four paths
that I see are common.

A lot of district representatives
will go to law school

or pursue
a higher education degree,

usually tend to veer towards law,

to then go into
public service or public policy.

A lot of other reps
will stay in their jobs.

A lot of reps will transition

to community organizations

or companies
that they had worked with

and they got to know really well,

and what they did,
and it sparked something for them.

And a lot of them

will just kinda burn out

and take a little bit of time
to figure out

what they want to do next.

My name is Fernando Morales.
FERNANDO, 27
DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, CA STATE SENATOR BEN ALLEN

I'm a District Representative

at State Senator
Ben Allen's office,

and I make $43,000.

Do I feel financially secure?

I don't know that I could say

that I am financially
secure right now.

However, I still don't know
if I'm ready to trade

some of the experiences
that I have

that I choose to spend that money

that if I saved

would actually make me
financially secure at this time.

Just because I hadn't had
those options before.

As I've started making
a little bit more money,

I realized I started
to love my city a lot more.

As I got to explore.

And I think
that at this point, being 27,

the smart thing is to start
planning for the future.

But I also want
to get some perspective,

because what am I saving for?

And what do I want
my retirement to look like,

and where do I want to go?

And what do I want my life
after my career

at some point to look like?

I think I want to start
finding that out too.

So, I hope to start saving soon

and I'm not financially
secure now.

But I'm doing some
exploratory work.

And I think it's
important as well.

My finances have changed
in a positive way,

but that margin that
I had for myself

kind of spendable cash
in a certain way

has just been taken up
by other things.

When I first arrived
in Los Angeles,

I didn't have a car.

As I mentioned,
I moved with just $400.

But I also had no
reoccurring expenses.

So now that I have a job
that requires that I have a car,

it's really hard to do my job
with just public transportation,

even though I'm a big fan of it.

I have to pay for my car,

I have to pay for insurance,

there are other bills.

I maybe need my internet
to be a little bit faster.

Things like that,
things just start piling on.

So, I'd say I have about

the same amount of money
at the end of the month

as I did
when I first started working.

My student loans are
a whole ordeal.

So, currently I have about
$33,000 in student loans.

I haven't always been the best
with my student loans.

After you graduate,

you usually have a period
of about six months to a year

in which you're not
required to make payments.

And, at first,
when I was unemployed,

you can also waive off
paying during that time.

When I first graduated
from college

and I started working,

I really didn't have a lot
of a margin of money leftover

to pay my loans at that time.

So, I chose to forbear

which is pushing forward
that responsibility.

Interest doesn't stop
a lot of times,

just because you're
pushing that forward.

And it will grow,
and the more that

the amount that you owe grows,

the more that that
interest will affect that.

Just like with your savings
on the positive side,

it can also snow ball
on the negative side.

So, I think I'm just right back

to where I was when I graduated,

debt-wise from school.

It does help though that
before I started paying

all the different loans for
$5,000 here, $6,000 here,

and I couldn't see it all
as one solid figure.

It was a lot easier for me to say,

if I can't find them all,
I'll take care of it later.

I'll deal with it tomorrow,

or the next day,
or the next month.

So, I decided about a year ago

to consolidate them all
into one amount,
DEBT CONSOLIDATION IS
A GREAT WAY TO SIMPLIFY DEBT

in one place.
AND POSSIBLY NEGOTIATE A
LOWER INTEREST RATE.

I can pay it all
in FedLoans.org or .gov.

So that's definitely been helpful.

As well as joining
an income based program,

income based repayment,

and public service
loan forgiveness.
THE PUBLIC SERVICE
LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM

So, once I pay for 10 years
in public service,
IS A PROGRAM FROM THE
US DEPT OF EDUCATION.

the entirety of my loans
will be forgiven.
TO LEARN MORE GO TO: STUDENTAID.ED.GOV

I have about $6,000

that I still owe for my car.

I bought it for $13,000,
I think, total,

with the fees that come on top
of just buying a car and license

and all of that.

So, I'm, basically to the point
in which I can sell it,

and pay it completely off
if I wanted to.

I have about $3,000
total in credit card.

With my credit card expenditures,

they mostly come from travel.

I want to make sure that
once a year if not more,

I take some time to see
a different part of the world,

now that I can.

It's a lot of
what I was mentioning earlier

about figuring out
where I want to go

or what I want my retirement

down the line to look like.

So, what I do is if
I have a 0% credit card,

I'll pay for my trip on that.
LOW INTRODUCTORY INTEREST RATES
ON NEW CARDS MAY BE ENTICING,

And then throughout the year,
before it leaves that 0%,
BUT BE AWARE THAT OPENING OR CLOSING
MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS MAY LOWER

which is an introductory rate,
YOUR CREDIT SCORE

I try to pay it all.

And then hopefully
keep it at zero.

Sometimes life happens,

like when your car breaks down.

But I try to keep it
at zero after that.

So, the housing market
in Los Angeles,

to me is so bad that

my ex-girlfriend and I

have been living
together for a year

after we broke up. [laughs]

Because, I mean,
it's just such a great deal.

It’s just such a great deal.

We have good communication.

Things are good but,

that's usually not the situation

that a lot of people think

whenever you think
about your ex-girlfriend.

You don't think
roommate as well.

So, I think that
sheds a little light

as to how tough the housing
situation is out there.

Annually, my income
is roughly $43,000.

If you divide that by 12

you get my monthly
theoretical income,

and that's $3,330.

From there, my taxes are taken out.

And that is $800 roughly.

But I'm happy to pay them
because I understand

that's where my salary
comes from as well.

Every month,
I get in my bank about $2,700.
FERNANDO’S BUDGET
MONTHLY SALARY $3,300
TAXES AND OTHER DEDUCTIONS ~$800

And then I start taking out
for rent which is $675,
NET TAKE HOME INCOME $2,700
RENT $675

my utilities of gas and water $75,
UTILITIES $75

my TV and internet,
just internet $40.
INTERNET $40

My cell phone is actually still
under my mom's family plan,

so I'm very happy to
not have to pay that,

my car is $200,
CAR PAYMENT $200

to pay the loan that I took out

plus 120 to insure it.
CAR INSURANCE $120

150 for gas just
from driving around.
GAS $150

And then I have reoccurring
payments from applications

such as Spotify or Apple storage
on my phone that's $25.
SPOTIFY/APPLE $25

And then I get into some
of the funner spending.

So, the discretionary spending.
DISCRETIONARY $200

And that's clothes,

which I allocate $200,

travel which I allocate $200 for
TRAVEL $200

and then,
the biggest chunk of money

that I end up spending per month

is actually on food,

restaurants
and drinks with friends.
RESTAURANTS $850

And that's about $850.

Which leaves me
at the end of the month with
REMAINING $165

just about zero.

I spend everything that I make,

which is not exactly
the smartest planning for now.

But it's something that
I've come to enjoy.

And I think that I will make a plan

to transition some of that money

that I'm spending on drinks
with friends and eating out,

maybe to put into savings
in the near future.

Since I started working,

I realized that you make
what you spend,

to a certain degree

unless you set hard boundaries.

If you're not great
at saving, like I am,

and you're committed to it,

and you don't want
to spend that currently –

like if you're really
set on doing that,

it could be
the right thing for you.

Or it could not be
the right thing for you.

Right now, I'd rather travel

than save some of that.

But, you have to make sure
that you set yourself for success

by enrolling
in one of those programs

that takes out the money
from your account

automatically
whenever it's deposited,

and it goes directly to savings.

And then that way,

when you get
to the end of the month,

you're gonna think you're at zero,

and you're not even gonna
think about it at one point.

Or you might be able
to do that yourself.

But, I found out that I'm not
very good at doing that.

So, at some point,

when I'm really set
on doing that,

and really saving
and making that plan,

whether to invest
or just keep it in savings,

I will start doing that as well.

My name is
Fernando Morales, I'm 27,
FERNANDO, 27
DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE, CA STATE SENATOR BEN ALLEN

and I'm a representative

for State Senator
Ben Allen's office.

My main responsibilities,

I would say that the first one
would be outreach,

and that's about 60%
FERNANDO’S REPSONSIBILITIES:

of my responsibilities
in the office.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH

And that's going
to community meetings,
ATTEND COMMUNITY EVENTS

whether it's a chamber meeting

or a neighborhood council

or a homeowner's association.

Hearing what the issues are there,

whether it's
homelessness in Hollywood

or transportation
in the mid-city area.
LISTEN TO CONSTITUTEN ISSUES

And really getting to have my hand

to the pulse of the community

so that I can
communicate that to the senator.

A lot of the times, that involves

speaking on his behalf
SPEAK ON BEHALF OF SENATOR

when he is in Sacramento
for the legislative session.

So, I get to be his proxy
in many ways,

which is exciting and a little--

It drives a little anxiety
when I have to public speak,

but I do enjoy doing
that part of my job.

Another 30% of my
responsibilities in the office,

I would say, are mostly
administrative or clerical.

Whether it's planning

or setting up
logistics for events,

producing letters or certificates
for community members,
ADMINISTRATIVE/CLERICAL WORK
PLAN AND SET UP EVENTS
CREATE OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

whether it's a graduation,

Eagle Scouts,
or whatever it may be.

Making sure that I can complete
that for those constituents.

The last 10% is
staffing the senator,

which means attending with him
to different community events.
STAFFING THE SENATOR

Letting him know
PREP THE SENATOR FOR EVENTS

which community members
have the questions

and the concerns.

And making sure that
he can address them

and go to them to get to,
you know,

have some one-on-one
time and hear them out.

No one day is the same at my job,

and I tend to enjoy that.

Back when I was younger,

I had this fantasy
of having this job

in which I went to sleep
in a different place

than where I woke up,

it was just constantly moving.

Little did I realize I could
do that in the same place,

it's just every
minute of the day,

and every different
day is different

regarding which event
I could attend.

The communities that I represent
are so diverse,

that there's just
such a wide array

of issues and conversations.

So I could be, at night,

at a gala for a non-profit,

or, you know, I could be
at a neighborhood council meeting

talking about planning
and some of the issues

that the constituents
have been encountering there.

So, there's a very wide range,

and a lot of the times,
it leaks into nights

and very early
mornings, sometimes,

weekends, but I mean,
it's all different,

so at least it
never gets boring.

District representatives,
on average,

make about anywhere from

35,000 dollars to 50,000,
55,000 dollars.

In my particular case,

I had some experience
beforehand in public relations,

and I've been in this similar
position for about three years.

One year of that
in the State Assembly.

So, my current salary is
about 43,000 dollars or so.

Whenever I was told I had the job,

I was asked what salary
I was expecting

or what I would need,

and I actually significantly
undershot them,

just from being
paid hourly before.

I said, “Look, I'll take 30,000.”

And then, you know,
they laughed for a second

and said, “Oh no,
we were gonna give you 35.

We just thought you were
gonna go higher.”

So, if I had been
a little savvier,

I'm sure I could have
started up a little higher.

My job comes with great benefits

when it comes to healthcare,

dental, and vision,

and, you know, it's not
the most competitive pay.

So I think that is something

that needs to be taken
into consideration as well.

Other than the benefits,

there are some perks to the job,

and the perks would include

having access to certain
people that know,

and they're the specialists
of whatever field they're in.

You know, I could talk
to a professor at UCLA

who's been doing

groundbreaking research
on neurobiology.

I could talk to a CEO
of a tech company

in the Silicon Beach
community that's growing.

At some point, I could talk to
the Secretary of California,

Secretary of the State
Alex Padilla, and I have.

And it's really exciting to be able
to hear directly from people

that are affecting that change
in whatever it may be.