Allan Acevedo | Political Spectrum
Just when people thought the election cycle was over, the San Diego City Council majority we worked so hard to attain will be put on hold as current Council President Tony Young has decided to step down to take a post as the CEO of the local Red Cross.
District 4, Young’s district, is a diverse area in Southeast San Diego. It has an active African-American population and Young and his predecessor are both African-American. This is a perspective and ethnicity we should ensure remains represented on our council. We also must ensure that whoever takes over for Young is also a strong supporter of full equality.
While many have said this is a more socially conservative district and one that voted against Proposition 8 in 2008, it is still a heavily leaning Democrat district – the most recent numbers from the County Registrar of Voters have it at 53 percent registered Democrat – and there is no better opportunity than now to change the narrative of the district.
Similar to Assemblymember Ben Hueso getting elected to District 8 as a strong supporter of equality despite the socially conservative Latino base in his district, a new progressive Democrat voice can and should be expected to be elected to District 4 in the 2013 special election.
There are a number of candidates already vying for this position, but most give pause for concern.
Bruce Williams has already announced his intention to run. Williams was a former city council opponent of Young and a registered Republican. He currently works for Young, who has himself only recently begun to evolve on the issue of marriage equality. Also, if residents are looking to point their finger at anyone for the added expense of what could cost as much as $350,000 for a special election to fill the vacated space, it would be a surrogate of Young’s. Williams is likely to earn the endorsement of Young, but I wonder how much that would help.
Ron Lacey is also a name being tossed around as a potential candidate. I would be concerned about putting someone into office with so many ties to Downtown special interests. Lacey currently works for Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders in Community Outreach. Ties to a Republican mayor would not help Lacey in such a heavily Democrat district.
Myrtle Cole’s name has also been mentioned as someone who could throw her hat in the ring. Cole currently works for the United Domestic Workers Local 3930 union in San Diego. She brings with her a mixed bag of experiences. She ran the city council campaigns of both Young and current Assemblymember Toni Atkins. When Cole was running Young’s campaign, they issued a damaging piece on Dwayne Crenshaw, then a candidate in the race himself, attacking Crenshaw on the issue of marriage equality.
Cole’s union has also failed to endorse any openly LGBT candidate running for the County Board of Supervisors. In 2010, they did not endorse Stephen Whitburn, who ran to represent District 4 on the board, which includes Hillcrest. And this year they actually endorsed Republican Brian Bilbray’s chief of staff, Steve Danon for the board. Luckily, Danon lost to openly gay Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts, making Roberts our first openly LGBT supervisor in county history.
Cole’s union made two endorsements of LGBT candidates, one of which was her former boss Atkins, who now said she is in support of Cole’s council run. Cole sounds to me more like a pragmatist willing to align herself with anyone who can help her advance her agenda, rather than someone who stands up for her ideals. This is not someone I would like on my city council and someone District 4 should be concerned about.
Brian “Barry” Pollard has already officially announced he would be running for this seat again after being Young’s opponent in 2010. Pollard, for many, seems like a front-runner candidate, but his stance on LGBT issues is unclear and his track record in the community could use some help. The San Diego Ethics Commission slapped Pollard’s campaign with a $1,500 fine for failure to timely file campaign statements in 2010, and Pollard also chaired the District 4 redistricting committee. Indeed, Pollard’s involvement in the redistricting process could bring up a few red flags of self-serving political maneuvering.
The candidate that I think would best represent this community and begin to change the narrative of District 4 is Crenshaw. Crenshaw has been a tireless advocate for his communities. During his tenure as executive director of the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils (CNC), they maintained an annual budget of $1.4 million and had 26 employees. Since his termination in December 2009, CNC has fallen below seven staff and now has little money in the bank. They offer almost none of the programs they did before his departure, including a nutritional meals program for kids, which ended in 2010.
Crenshaw later went on to complete a juris doctorate at California Western Law School and currently serves as Executive Director of San Diego LGBT Pride. He has name recognition having twice run for the city council seat himself, and has a strong base of support both within the LGBT community and the communities of District 4. He has lived in the district for 37 years, and is a resident of the Encanto neighborhood.
—Allan Acevedo is co-founder and president emeritus of Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego. He has worked on multiple political campaigns and served on numerous boards including the San Diego Democratic Club, California Young Democrats, Gay-Straight Alliant Network and Equality California PAC. Follow @allanacevedo on Twitter.