To hear Medrano tell it, he has only left Tolleson to be born (in a Phoenix hospital) and to attend a Catholic high school (also in Phoenix). Phoenix, mind you, is about a 20-minute drive from Tolleson.
While that record of absence is not strictly true, of course, the impression speaks to Medrano’s deep Tolleson roots. His grandmother was born in a migrant-worker camp, he says, and his grandfather moved to Tolleson from Texas.
By the time Medrano was born two generations later, his family had become more established, but the memory of what came before served as a motivation for the present. Medrano recalls watching the movie La Bamba as a child, and when the characters used makeshift showers in the middle of an orchard, Medrano’s family reacted.
“All of my aunts and uncles jumped up and said, ‘That’s how we grew up, so you guys never had to!’” Medrano says. “Their sole motivation was that future generations of Medranos had opportunity.”
For Medrano, that played out in a number of ways. He always assumed he’d go to college someday. He also saw the value people like his family could add to their community. And the fact that his father, who was vice mayor of Tolleson, used to declare, “One of these days, one of our kids is going to run this city!” — perhaps predisposed Medrano to consider a career as a public servant.