By Marissa Acierto
HILLCREST – At Joyce Beers Community Center in the evening it was packed with over 100 people who attended a January 31 candidate’s forum. Three out of 9 candidates for San Diego District 4 attended the event: Dwayne Crenshaw, Myrtle Cole and Tony Villafranca.
The first one to speak was Dwayne Crenshaw currently the Executive Director for LGBT Pride. Dwayne is a experienced veteran candidate who has run for office several times. His first political campaign was for State Assemblymember for the 79th District against Juan Vargas in the Democratic Primary Election but lost. Mr. Crenshaw than ran for San Diego City Council District 4 in 2002 and out of 11 candidates he placed top two in the Primary Election. However, he ran against Charles Lewis in the run off for the General Election. Mr. Crenshaw than tried in 2004, in yet another Special Election, and he placed top three out of 8 candidates in the Primary Elections. Dwayne decided to run for the San Diego Community College Board Trustees and lost in that race too. Technically, this is Dwayne’s 5th run from the several different political races.
Myrtle Cole’s current profession is as an employee of United Domestic Workers (UDW) and the lone female candidate at this forum. Ms. Cole is a neophyte political candidate. She has worked in and volunteered successful and unsuccessful with several political races. Her expertise have been commended by public officials currently in office.
Rounding out the forum was Tony Villafranca a Businessman specializing in Real Estate and is the lone Filipino American candidate. Villafranca is a veteran candidate and his family members are originally from Cavite, Philippines. According to the Publisher and Editor of the San Diego Asian Journal Newspaper, it documents that he ran a total of four times in the National City Council race and lost. Meanwhile, this would be his first run as a San Diego City Council candidate but his 5th run as a potential political opponent.
During the forum, an issue was presented as to whether the candidates have been in there place of residency very long.
The three candidates indicated that they have all been there for quite some time. However, Dwayne implied that Cole had stated something different prior to another forum. Cole looked at Crenshaw and said, “You’re just bitter because you lost twice.”
All candidates reflected diversity as an asset to the community. Myrtle Cole even went a step further to let the LGBT community know the importance of making sure they have staff that reflects the community for equal representation and mentioned Filipino’s and Latino’s as one of the staffs being on board.
Another incident was when Villafranca was asked several questions and for some reason he had several revelations going on with his true self. He mentioned “Moses” and changes. Villafranca’s explained his analogy of examples of his conversion of supporting issues in the LGBT communities and understanding the Catholic Faith. However, he evaded some questions and was not direct on his answers.
It was noted that Villafranca emphasized that he wanted to let the members know that he called himself a “straight man” and that District 4 was not a Black district.
Maureen Steiner, President from the Lambda Archives of San Diego indicated that she appreciated that Tony Villanueva (“Villafranca’s” last name was incorrectly said twice in error by Ms. Steiner) was awakened. Ms. Steiner encouraged the organization to embrace that fact. Maureen went further to indicate that they should concentrate on what the district wants and get input from the members of the community of District 4.
Bill Flores a retired U.S. Navy Veteran and activist in the community from Paradise Hills who attended the Candidate Forum thanked Ms. Steiner out in the lobby for her refreshing feedback because he was a member of the community. He felt the questions were not reflective and directed completely towards other important issues such as economic growth, workable programs and fixing potholes for District 4.
Meanwhile, Dwayne touted on his expertise on making sure that even though issues went on with his former job at Community Neighborhood Council (CNC), he had the perfect opportunity to make sure that fundings were available and programs set. He also mentioned that funds were more when he left, than when he took the job.
Later in the evening, the process of endorsement was scrutinized through the members of the organization, public officials and even non-members in the community. The final vote of the organization was to not endorse any candidates but to give an acceptable rating to Mr. Crenshaw and Ms. Cole. Mr. Villafranca had zero votes. Since the endorsement process did not take place it curtailed candidates hope and ability to get political fundings.