In this abbreviated race for mayor of San Diego, we find it interesting that the Hispanic community’s issues and concerns have been boiled down to each candidate’s position on Barrio Logan. Barrio Logan has become the defacto litmus test to determine where the candidates stand with the Hispanic community.
This litmus test is reflected in that when it comes to the Hispanic community, all the endorsement events seem to be taking place in Barrio Logan, highlighting Barrio Logan residents, with the Barrio Logan community plan update the central issue.
Why are the candidates’ position on the Hispanic community important? In the last mayor’s race, ethnic communities, and in particular the Hispanic community, were instrumental in getting Bob Filner elected mayor. In a race that was separated by 23,222 votes, Hispanic support is the swing vote between becoming mayor or not!
The problem with this litmus test is that it does not reflect the majority of the Hispanic community!
Barrio Logan is home to about 5000 residents, with a median household income that is 57% less than the median income for the city of San Diego ($19,968 versus $45,733). Education levels are extremely low, which disfavor involvement in politics. And the community is dominated by social service agencies, the Chicano Federation, Barrio Station, Logan Heights Family, Environmental Health Coalition, and the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee.
The Hispanic population in the City of San Diego is approximately 375,000 with 119,190 registered voters that live throughout the communities of San Diego. The median income for Hispanics is at $41,301 and this voting population is primarily comprised of upwardly mobile middle class Hispanics. Their issues are worlds away from Barrio Logan.
This is not to say that Barrio Logan issues take a back seat to anybody, they don’t. Barrio Logan is the heart and soul of the Chicano movement, with historic murals reflecting the pride and heritage of the Chicano community.
Yet when it comes to addressing the issues of this community, candidates who stand in the middle of Chicano Park present a façade of interest and concern but do little to address the issues of the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community is being looked at as nothing more than a commodity — as votes needed for victory!
The candidates have not talked about political empowerment of the community or representing the interests of the community. What have the candidates said that will make a difference to Hispanics? Why should Hispanics vote for one candidate over another? From what we have heard so far, after the election it will be business as usual! Which means they will acknowledge the Hispanic vote and then move on!
We appreciate the fact that David Alvarez is in the race for mayor. Alvarez is from the community, the Barrio Logan community, yet as such he is focused on demonstrating that he is capable of representing the entire community, while embracing the the idea of being a role model for the Hispanic community. A positive role model is a good thing, but we already have role models that have come from this community. Ben Hueso and Juan Vargas have been elected in recent years, and what has that gotten us? We need more than just role models. We need action heroes who will move the Hispanic community forward and create change.
We need a candidate who will address the needs of Hispanics in Mission Bay who are looking for organization and a voice in their community. The middle class Hispanics in Clariemont who are worried about their pensions, will they be able to retire after 35 years on the job with the city? Or, will they continue to pay the price for the political mishandling of the city’s budget? Hispanics in Tierrasanta are concerned about the educational achievement gap and the ever-rising cost of a college education.
Then of course are the issues that receive a lot of attention in regards to discussion and focus groups but very little action such as gangs, drugs, graffiti, housing, unemployment all of which are prominent within the Hispanic communities south of I-8 and North of Carlsbad.
Instead of addressing these issues, it is just easier for a photo opp standing in front of the kiosk in Chicano Park, or talking in Spanish which Kevin Falconer is prone to do, which is seen more as pandering than addressing the issues of the community.
Politicians see the Hispanic vote as a commodity and for them it is all about how they package themselves to get that vote, without committing themselves to the Hispanic community!!!