November 21, 2008

Escondido glimpses future changes

Olga Díaz is the first Hispanic woman elected to the City Council in their 150 year history, the most controversial city in North County.

By América Barceló Feldman

ESCONDIDO - The old stating goes ‘if you work hard enough, you can achieve your goals’! This applies perfectly to Olga Díaz, a young business woman, who two years ago did not get enough votes to win the seat in the Escondido City Council. However, on November 4 she just changed the history of this city.

For the past two years Diaz worked hard to achieve her goal, and without a doubt her triumph represents the beginning of a new era, and perhaps the beginning of a transformation for this controversial city.

Residents of Escondido expressed their desire for change giving Diaz 19 hundred more votes than her opponent, Ed Gallo, who was replaced after having served four terms as a councilman in this city.

“I have new ideas for change and this is exactly what the residents voted for. (We) The residents of this city are tired; we do not see that things are being done as they’re supposed to. I think this is the main reason they voted for me this election. We must stop wasting the money that our community needs”, explains Diaz.

With her triumph Olga Diaz is seen as the future and the hope for the Hispanic residents of a city who they feel have been harassed by the local government for the last two years. Especially by three council members, who insisted on creating amendments to the municipal code, focusing on anti-migrant policies.

“The only thing they achieved was to make people angry, on both sides of the migrant issues. This makes our community divided. Moreover, they spent millions of dollars, money that we urgently need for our community. It is exactly the reason I never stopped my campaign. For more than two years I was working hard, trying to make people listen to my proposals. And now, they gave me their support, and placed their trust in me”, stated Diaz.

The new elected council member is the first bilingual Latino woman in the 150 years of Escondido’s history. According to Diaz, although, many years ago another Hispanic councilman had served, he was not completely aware of the Hispanic culture, language and customs.

“I represent the voice of thousands of residents that now live isolated, feel harassed and persecuted. Now I am here to let them know that I am here to represent them, to listen to them, because I speak their language and understand their culture, customs and necessities. I want them to identify themselves with me and feel comfortable with me, and most importantly feel welcomed in the community they live,” she adds.

Being bilingual is one of the biggest advantages that she will bring to the council as she starts her new job. She will be the only one councilmember of Escondido who could communicate with all the residents, especially with the almost 45 percent Hispanic population.

According to Diaz, her entrance to the City Hall breaks down the problem of wasting time, money and efforts trying to approve municipal codes and laws related to immigration issues.

“Before, the three council members had united to approve and create these rules, issues that are not municipal or local government related, this problem is federal. Now it will be very difficult for them trying to pass these kind of proposals, because we will be three against two, since the mayor and councilman Daniels never have agreed with them,” mentions Diaz.

HELPING COMMUNITY

The idea to become a councilmember was born after the Escondido City Council started wasting money and time creating ridiculous proposals that affected mostly the Hispanic community, as well the city finances.

As business owner, she strongly disagreed with the waste of money that the local government was implementing, and this made Diaz decide to run for this public position.

“This position is a challenge for me, this is the way to learn about government management, but also it is the way I see for me to help people in need, as well as to make contribution to the community where I Iive,” says Díaz.

Díaz was born in Salinas, California, and her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. As a member of migrant family they faced the same problems as all the Latinos in this country. The most difficult barrier was the language, since her parents talk only Spanish in their home.

Coming from a family that faced many obstacles, Díaz learned the importance to help others in her community, and she really enjoys helping others in many different ways possible.

“My father jokes with me, he says that I ran for council because I like to be aware of everything; but the truth is that I really like to help others, and as part of the government I will have the opportunity to do something for people in need,” she explains.

HER FUTURE

Díaz expects that her entrance to the City Hall will be beneficial for the community; she is ready to work hard on the priorities for the city, and never fail the trust that people have in her.

Diaz mentions that one of the bigger priorities facing Escondido is coming up with solutions to try fixing City’s struggling finances.

She expects to collaborate in peace and good faith with all the council members for the benefit of the city, and will support programs in education, plus gang, drug, and crime prevention.

“I look forward to the wellness of all the residents of Escondido, and will put all my efforts to have a safe, clean and productive city,” finishes Diaz.

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