Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, chats with Redlands resident Avis Taylor as they wait for her groceries to be rung up at the checkout stand during the congressman’s “Job for a Day” tour stop at Gerrard’s Market in Redlands, Calif. on Friday, July 7, 2017. Aguilar began the tour in April, which has taken him across the district to work different jobs at businesses through the community to connect with residents. (Photo by Rachel Luna, The Sun/SCNG)
Rep. Pete Aguilar went from one cash register to another, bagging groceries at Gerrards Market in Redlands on Friday, July 7, as part of his “Job for a Day” tour.
Some customers were unaware the Democratic congressman — clad in slacks, a tie, blue apron, and sneakers — was handling their packaged fish, bottled water, and bananas. Others took photos with him. A woman talked politics with him.
“You’re doing great!” one cashier told him.
Aguilar began his job tour in April working as a server at Mitla’s Cafe in San Bernardino. He’ll try a new job on a quarterly basis throughout the year. His aim is to connect with residents and learn more about businesses in his district.
Photos: Rep. Pete Aguilar continues ‘Job For A Day’ tour at Gerrards Market in Redlands
“The goal is to just get out there in the community and to experience some real jobs that folks in the Inland Empire have and do each and every day,” said Aguilar, the former mayor of Redlands. “Talk to folks to hear their concerns about healthcare, about jobs.”
“The only way to do that is by getting out,” he said.
It took a minute or so for Redlands resident Avis Taylor to recognize the congressman. Aguilar wore a badge with just his first name.
“You look a lot like Pete Aguilar,” she told him.
Once she learned who she was dealing with, she voiced her concerns.
“You’ve got to do something about this country,” she said.
Taylor, 86, talked to Aguilar about the need for more Democrats in Congress where Republicans hold majorities in both the House and Senate.
“We’ve got to push back,” Aguilar told her.
She told him she was concerned about the environment and the status of monument designations. She also wondered what will happen to Medicare.
Customer Diane Bruns, 62, of Twin Peaks didn’t recognize Aguilar. She sensed there was something unique about the man bagging groceries because of the two photographers surrounding him.
Although Aguilar is not her representative, she thought his job tour was a good way to get to know his constituents. She would have liked it had Aguilar introduced himself to her, she said.
A teacher, Bruns said she has taken her students to visit their representative, Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley.
“It’s good getting out to the public,” Bruns said.
Tom Reingrover, owner of Gerrards, watched as Aguilar interacted with customers. Reingrover said he wasn’t concerned about conversations potentially getting heated given the political climate over immigration and healthcare. He said he was just glad to have Aguilar at his store.
“I think it’s great. He’s a good local guy,” Reingrover said. “A lot of my customers know him and recognize him.”
In the end, Aguilar learned one major thing.
“You’ve got to make sure you put the heavy stuff at the bottom,” he said. “That’s rule No. 1”
Republican Sean Flynn, a Scripps College economics professor who has announced he will run against Aguilar in 2018, said the congressman should curtail his jobs tour and focus on his own job.
“I think Pete Aguilar’s efforts to find out more about jobs in our district is commendable, but I would prefer he spend his time in Washington working to create jobs in the Inland Empire. Unlike Pete, I’ve run businesses before and know how important strong government action is on job creation.”