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High hopes for 2010

Happy New Year San Diego! While 2009 was a tough year for many, and tough for our fight for marriage equality, it held many successes. In California, we’ll soon have our first openly gay Speaker of the Assembly. And just last month, Houston, the 4th largest city in the United States, elected a lesbian mayor, and we’re starting to see improvements in the local economy.

2010 holds promise for many, and for me personally, I hope to be elected to the California State Assembly this year.

That seems like a very tall order at the moment. If I’m elected to the State Assembly in November of 2010, we’ll still face unprecedented financial challenges in our state budget, and revenues, unfortunately, still probably won’t be on the rise enough to solve our financial problems. It’s a difficult time to be campaigning, since many people wonder how one person can make much of a difference in the Assembly.

I DO plan to make a difference and want to share with you just a few of the many important issues that will be my focus if I’m elected.

Economic Revitalization and Job Creation Economists say we’ll know we’re back on the right track when the job outlook improves. Not only do we need to focus on creating thousands of jobs, we need to create the right kinds of jobs - those with health insurance and high enough pay to support our families. When I was a city councilmember in San Diego, I fought to pass the City’s Living Wage Ordinance to protect workers and ensure a livable wage. We have an opportunity as we reconstruct our economy to make these kinds of choices. Do we want to get back to where we were, or do we want to make our economy even stronger?

Environmental Protection In times of economic crisis, we hear the constant refrain that environmental protection costs too much and we should loosen our restrictions. I say now is not the time to give back our hard-earned improvements. In fact, environmental protection can go hand-in-hand with economic revitalization. For instance, what is better for the economy and the environment than improvements in public transportation? Workers with better options to get to job centers and fewer cars on the road to lessen air pollution are two examples of how we can bring our economy back and improve our environment - all at the same time.

Education I’m living proof that an education provides the road to opportunity. After growing up in poverty in Southwest Virginia, I was able to attend college and earn a degree in political science with an emphasis on community organizing. Not only has it been a blessing for me personally, but I have been able to give back - by working to create affordable housing solutions, improving parks in low-income areas, and helping to implement needed financial reforms for the City of San Diego. I’ll work to improve educational opportunities for everyone, but especially for those for whom it is the path out of poverty and disadvantage.

I have high hopes for San Diego and California in the coming years. I believe we’ll look back on this time as monumentally difficult, but at the same time we’ll have learned some valuable lessons for our future.

Finally, I’m heartened by the Legislature’s selection of Assemblymember John Perez as Speaker. Not only is Assemblymember Perez a rising star, but he has earned those stars every step of the way. Known for his pragmatic and diplomatic approach, he brings a keen understanding of urban issues and disadvantaged communities - having lived in one of the more challenging districts in Los Angeles, including the working class communities of El Sereno and Highland Park near downtown L.A.

Assemblymember Perez understands that California’s revitalization must center around preservation and creation of jobs, while striving to improve our educational system to make our best asset - our younger citizens - prepared to enter the workforce, and protecting our valuable natural resources - our beaches, bays, and natural habitat. Assemblymember Perez has already accomplished a great deal in his first term and he stands out historically as the first gay Assembly Speaker in California’s history, which is quite an accomplishment for equality!

I look forward to the opportunity to work with our future Speaker of the Assembly.