Lived and graduated from college in Los Angeles, California, then entered the US Navy; today, he is part owner of a bar and a councilor in Greater Jacksonville Beach.
Amidst the sounds of gunfire heard outside the neighborhood where he lives with his family, Fernando Meza spent his childhood in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California.
Meza, now 39 years old, remembers that her parents often moved, with her and her sisters, around poor areas of the city trying to escape crime and gangs in the 1980s and 1990.
Being not professionals but from the working class, his father Fernando and his mother Teresa did not have enough income to live in a better and safer neighborhood, because they were workers in factories and warehouses in clothes.
His parents immigrated to California from different regions of Mexico in the early 1970s and met in Los Angeles where they began a romantic relationship that culminated in marriage and the birth of Fernando, Jr. and two siblings. which are women.
“I want to do my life. Growing up in Los Angeles, as a Mexican and a person of color, they told us that if you finish your ‘High School’ you will do nothing, or you will go to jail or you will die,” Meza recalled of his time in youth.
The escape from that uncertain world for the young Mexican-American was the military service when he finished high school in the city of California. That decision became stronger after the terrorist attacks on September 22, 2001, so he joined the United States Navy.
After graduating from high school in 2002, Meza began basic training in Illinois at the end of the same year and, after training in Florida to become a military aircraft coordinator in 2003, he was assigned as an aviation petty officer of the military warship John. F. Kennedy. The military ship was sent to the coast of Persia for more than six months where, along with other personnel, it helped the pilots in the first year of the war in Iraq.
The Latino returned to serve out the rest of his military service in Jacksonville working on the same military ship, which was decommissioned in 2007 shortly after his Navy service.
POLITICS AND BUSINESS
After his military service, he dedicated himself to working in a couple of bars near the shores of Jacksonville Beach. At the same time, he obtained a degree in Political Science from Florida State College Jacksonville (FSCJ) in 2012, in just three years usually four years, began to participate in local and state political campaigns . He ran for Jacksonville Beach councilman in 2012 and 2014 but lost.
In 2015, he partnered with Steve Chelgren, a bar entrepreneur, and became involved in the business of The Wreck Lounge Bar, where he is a co-owner.
During 2020, in the global pandemic of COVID-19, he ran for the council for the third time and defeated the candidate Frances Povloski, in all precincts and by six percentage points. The Latino identified as a Democrat until 2010, but switched to the Republican party because of the political frustrations he felt.
Although he still visits his sisters and parents in Los Angeles, he calls Jacksonville Beach home and feels more appreciated by members of the community since moving 20 years ago.