San Diego Needs Responsive, Accessible Leaders From the Community
Updated at 1:30 p.m. Monday: Kelvin Barrios suspended his campaign, according to a KPBS report.
This is an independent opinion. IVN San Diego has reached out to all city of San Diego candidates, including Sean Elo, inviting them to submit commentary at any time. If you would like to submit commentary, email email@example.com
The current pandemic we’re wrestling with highlights problems that impact some communities more than others. San Diego City Council District 9, which includes City Heights, Mountain View and Rolando, is among the hardest hit communities partly because it’s been neglected by most City Hall leaders for a long time. Our systems are inequitable and these lopsided playing fields mean our community suffers more than others when times are good or bad.
During these difficult times, I have been meeting with community members and having tough conversations about what to do next. How do we recover? How do we rebuild from this? Who needs the most help and how do we get it to them?
While some families have been sheltering and working from home, many of the families in District 9 do not have the opportunity to work from home. Many of our neighbors are struggling to pay their bills and have no choice but to work.
Recently, I met Sonia at a supply distribution. She shared how she waited in line for two hours to get some food and personal protective equipment since her job doesn’t provide her with enough protective equipment. She shared how she is the only person in her household that is currently working…the burden of providing for not just her immediate family, but all family members who live with her, falling on her shoulders. Her rent is past due for two months now and her utility bills are piling up.
This is the reality that many of our families are facing. Yet, these are challenges that many of us have faced long before the pandemic. It is community members like Sonia, who are facing many of the same challenges my family has faced for decades, that inspired me to run for the District 9 council seat.
I was born and raised in the district. I grew up in City Heights, the son of working-class immigrant parents. My mom is a housekeeper and my dad a janitor. Our family of six shared a two-bedroom apartment with a leaky roof and bad ventilation.
We didn’t have a park near our apartment, so we played soccer in the street. Eventually, I traded playing with my friends to helping my mom clean houses. I was bused out of my neighborhood to a school full of strangers far from home.
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We had just one car in our family, so public transit was my main form of transportation. I worked as a cook, mechanic, and hotel worker for several years to finally afford a car.
My parents taught me to give back to our community and to be a leader within my community. That is why I have volunteered for several community organizations and have served on as the vice president of my local town council and as a member of my planning group to ensure that the needs of my community are reflected in decision making.
I have had the pleasure of being an advocate for my community as a policy advisor for Council President Georgette Gomez, and now as the Director of Community Outreach for Laborers Local 89.
I am running for San Diego City Council because our neighborhoods don’t need more politicians who see our community as a stepping stone. We deserve responsive, accessible leadership that comes from our community.
I am committed to fighting for all of us for our neighborhoods. I am committed to creating the systematic changes our community so desperately needs so that we can address the issues that have put our communities at such a disadvantage. Issues that have plagued our communities for far too long.