By Pablo Jaime Sainz
District 8. The “Mexican” part of town. The poor side of town. The forgotten, neglected part of town.
Historically, the city of San Diego’s District 8 has been considered the ugly duckling at City Hall.
District 8 has been the district with the highest concentration of Latinos. It includes communities such as Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Otay Mesa, South San Diego and San Ysidro.
And after Council member Ralph Inzunza resigned from his position after being found guilty of fraud and corruption, the District 8 office lost most of the credibility it had among district residents.
On November 8 there will be a special election to replace Inzunza. Eight candidates are in the race. Some of them are familiar faces while others are new to the political arena.
Luis Acle is perhaps one of the better-known candidates, in part because he was recently elected to the board of education of San Diego City Schools. That same fact has also brought a good deal of criticism from several community members who said that Acle, who was elected to the board of education last November, only used the school district as a political srpringboard.
Acle said that during the year he has been president of the board of education, “the vast majority of parents are satisfied with my work and they’ve told me that they are willing to vote for me for District 8.”
Acle called his decision to run for City Council “a matter of duty.”
“The problems of the city are by far larger than the problems of the school district. If the city goes down, the schools suffer. So I think that by helping the city I’m helping our students,” he said.
Remigia “Remy” Bermudez, an elementary school teacher with experience in economic development, said that she decided to run for the City Council after noticing that the staff of Inzunza’s office didn’t meet the needs of the community.
“I would call his office and ask for help with an issue, and nobody in the staff would be able to tell me how to go about it. They didn’t know the system. It was dissapointing,” she said.
Bermudez said that if elected she will look for the interests of District 8 residents.
“Services have not been delivered to the community. It has been neglected for a long time,” she said. “I will empower people with information about the government. I will make sure the office is responsive to the needs of the people.”
Dan Coffey, an attorney, also said that in the past the District 8 office has not been responsive to residents.
He said he will work closely with the mayor and the rest of the city council to make sure that there is equal distribution of resources throughout the city’s districts.
“We need to get more financial resources to District 8,” he said.
Tim Gomez, a notary public, said he will put in 60 to 80 hour weeks when he’s elected for the City Council.
“That’s the only way a council member can achieve his objectives,” he said. “Most of the residents work, so you have to make time to meet people after working hours to learn about the issues that need to be addressed in the community.”
Gomez said his priority is to work with credit unions to be able to give out credit so more District 8 residents could be able to buy a house.
“Housing is a major problem in our district,” he said.
Douglas Holbrook, an attorney at law, said one of his priorities is to “clean-up government.”
“Every public official must avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest....which would include the abstention from voting on any matter that might affect someone from whom they received a financial contribution,” he said. “The public has the right to hold every public official in every public agency accountable.”
Ben Hueso, a small business owner, said his experience doing grass-roots activism in the community has given him the leadership skills he needs to lead District 8.
“I have a very good track record as an advocate for positive community change,” he said. “I’m a person of integrity who is going to work for the community.”
Hueso added that District 8 is a working-class district that has special issues that need to be addressed.
“I’m going to be someone who’s going to support this community,” he said. “I’ve been out there advocating for many years.”
Matthew Moncayo, a communications systems analyst, said he will restore the people’s trust to the District 8 office by having community forums and an open door policy where “anybody could get a hold of me.”
“I will be accountable for what happens there,” he said. “Once a week I will visit different communities in the district to talk to common residents.”
Some of the projects he’s planned for some of the communities are the revitalization of San Ysidro and more funding for community agencies such as Barrio Station in Logan Heights.
City-wide, Moncayo said he plans to call for an independent audit of city finances by Certified Fraud Examiners from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the federal government.
Pickard Lincoln, a semi-retired Webmaster and reporter, couldn’t be reached by La Prensa this week.