Berenice Ponce has filed for the open District 3 Yakima City Council seat.

Ponce, who serves as an education advocate for Educational School District 105, said more than 15 years of social service work has taught her the importance of removing barriers to success for people from various walks of life.

During her career as a civil servant, she acted as a union organizer and a community liaison to lobby for better living wages, a safe work environment and employment benefits. She also worked as a case manager for several nonprofits, helping adults identify and remove barriers to attain self-sufficiency, facilitating access to affordable housing and providing referrals to services for those in need.

As an education advocate, she mentors youths and works side-by-side with the school district, the juvenile court, mental health counselors and community partners to provide preventative education related to gang violence and substance abuse.

She also serves on the board of directors for the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program and as a school board director for the Yakima School District.

Her various experiences have made her aware of the issues that most impact Yakima residents, as well as what causes them, Ponce said.

“There has been a huge increase in gang violence and violence in general in the city,” she said. “In the positions I’ve held, it’s always barriers in life that create the problems.”

If elected, Ponce would prioritize affordable housing and public safety issues. She said she would bring strong leadership to the council, is not afraid to ask questions or speak up when she disagrees with something, and is committed to openness, accountability and honesty.

“As your elected representative, I will put District 3 residents first, give us a strong voice, and continue to advocate for the resources our community needs,” Ponce said. “Together we can build a safe community and improve the quality of life in Yakima.”

Councilwoman Carmen Mendez, who holds the District 3 seat, decided not to run for re-election. Patricia Byers and Thomas Sund also have filed for the position.

Filing for local office ended Friday. The primary is Aug. 6, with the general election on Nov. 5.

Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.