By Pablo J. Sáinz
If you ask him, Juan Ortiz would tell you that he rarely votes in local elections.
But now that that two of the candidates in the City of San Diego special mayoral election are Latinos, he said he’s definitely going to the polls on November 19.
“We have to represent, you know?” said Ortiz near Chicano Park this week, in the heart of Barrio Logan. “It’s always other people deciding for us. It’s time to raise our voice and let them know that we’re here, and that we are valued. Ya estoy cansado de que nos pisoteen, I’m tired of being stepped on.”
Of the four major candidates in the race, two are of Mexican origin, Councilmember David Alvarez, and lawyer Mike Aguirre. Both are democrats. The other two candidates are Democrat Nathan Fletcher, and Republican Kevin Faulconer.
La Prensa San Diego went to two areas in the city with heavy Latino population, San Ysidro and Logan Heights, to ask people in the streets who will they vote for mayor and why. Not surprisingly, of the 15 people asked, 8 of them said they will vote for one of the Latino candidates: seven of them favor Alvarez while one favors Aguirre.
Of the remaining 7, four said they wouldn’t vote, two said they would vote for Fletcher, and one for Faulconer.
Ortiz, the unemployed construction worker quoted at the beginning of this article, said he will vote for Alvarez, because “he’s one of us. He’s from here, from Barrio Logan. He knows our problems and it seems like he wants to help us get better.”
Luisa Castro, a San Ysidro resident, said she also plans to vote for Alvarez. For Castro, it doesn’t matter if a candidate is Latino or not, but rather if he has shown an interest for San Ysidro.
“While he’s been on the city council David Alvarez has come many times to San Ysidro, and he knows how things are here,” she said. “I don’t even know who the other candidates are.”
Another voter who is supporting Alvarez is Daisy Hernandez. She’s a local college student who said she can relate to Alvarez because he’s younger than the other candidates.
“He’s very progressive and is in touch with issues that are important to young people,” she said. “It is important that they take us into account, because we’re the future of the city.”
Pablo Duarte, who was waiting for the trolley at the Beyer station in San Ysidro, said he remembers Aguirre as a person who fights for immigrants’ rights.
“He supports our community,” he said. “He is a good candidate.”
But not all Latinos surveyed are voting for a Latino candidate.
José Luis Ramirez, a south San Diego resident, said he will vote for Faulconer, stating that the last Democrat mayor, Bob Filner, left the city in disgrace after he resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal.
“The race of the candidate doesn’t matter, as long as they are doing a good job, and I think Faulconer has the most experience of all the candidates,” Ramirez said. “If you’re Latino, don’t just vote for a Latino. You have to look at all the facts, and candidate records. Being Latino doesn’t guarantee you they will look after your interests or of your community.”
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 19 mayoral elections is Monday, Nov. 4.The last day to request a mail ballot is Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. On Nov. 19 the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be 572 poll locations in the Special Municipal Election. You can find the online process at the Registrar of Voters website www.sdvote.com or by calling (858) 565-5800.