SANTA PAULA, Calif. – Joe Garces is coaching Santa Paula High School’s track team. 

He has been coaching on and off for more than 20 years. His son Tyler is on the team. He would be a full-time teacher if pension rules from his retirement as a firefighter would allow it.

But as much as Garces teaches them, he learns from them as well.

“The student population that we have here is very migrant heavy, I see how poor immigration policies are affecting these kids,” Garces said.

That’s why immigration is on the mind of this 2020 undecided voter. 

Something else he is worried about is the future of the planet.

“It’s not climate change, it’s a climate crisis right now and to continue to ignore it it’s at our own peril,” he said.

He lives with his wife of 19 years Taira, and two of his three sons. The eldest is already in college. 

So access to higher education matters to him, as does health care. He is also a gun owner but believes in gun control.

“It’s not necessarily a right more than it is a privilege anymore, and it’s a privilege that we haven’t earned,” Garces said.

He often discusses politics with his sons, and thinks of how his vote will impact other people:

“The golden rule, do the right thing, and treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said. 

His perfect world, whether he builds it at home with his son on Minecraft or at the polling booth, is all about empathy; for the planet, for others.