January's DMO of the Month Puts Neighborhoods First
Here at Democratic Municipal Officials, we know that DMOs represent every kind of community. One of the major challenges local Democrats face is breathing life back into struggling neighborhoods. For January’s DMO of the Month we recognize a municipal official who stands tall for his neighborhood. He knows that dedicated local government is the key to creating better conditions in the communities where his constituents live and work. Meet David Alvarez, Council Member for San Diego’s District 8, Democratic candidate for Mayor of San Diego, and January’s DMO of the Month.
Growing up in Barrio Logan was a formative experience for Councilman Alvarez. The neighborhood is a patchwork of homes and businesses, where residences are wedged between chemical plants. While access to the ocean makes it a prime location for industry, families who live nearby have had to endure the resulting fumes and runoff. Councilmember Alvarez attributes his own asthma to the air conditions in Barrio Logan. The disparity between conditions in his own neighborhood and others in San Diego prompted Alvarez take up community activism with the Environmental Health Coalition. Upon finishing college he took jobs as a social worker and after-school teacher. Transitioning to politics, Alvarez served under the California Secretary of State and as a community liaison for State Senator Ducheny. In 2010 Alvarez ran for and won a seat on the City Council, representing the neighborhoods of District 8 including Barrio Logan.
Alvarez’s first term has focused on restoring services to under served parts of the city. This includes increasing funding for police, firefighters, and libraries. He helped implement the Citygate Plan to improve fire safety levels. He also restored the Penny for the Arts proposal, which is anticipated to double funding for the arts in San Diego over the next five years. Councilman Alvarez’s environmentalism shines through in how he advocates for his city, fighting for a more sustainable water system and negotiating deals to remove industrial toxins from the San Diego Bay. Alvarez has seen first-hand that the absence of these services entrenches poverty and unemployment. Delivering a basic level of government service back to worn down communities is the first step towards bringing out their full potential.
Revitalizing any community includes establishing economic initiatives in addition to restoring municipal services. Alvarez takes pride in his work on an anti-blight bill, creating a registry of foreclosed homes and mandating that banks pay a fee that goes towards property upkeep. This stopgap keeps neighborhoods afflicted by poverty from slipping into disrepair. He also devoted resources to projects that revitalize existing neighborhoods, such as the COMM22 project, a development that mixes different income level housing around a shopping and transit center. These initiatives tailor projects to the specific needs of each community, and ensure that renovation efforts don’t muscle out the local culture. By developing economic programs that take into account the traditions and values of a neighborhood, Alvarez takes crafting more livable and productive communities to the next level.
Councilman Alvarez’s concept of public service draws strongly from his days as a community activist. He focuses on the environmental impact of industry, establishes systemic safety nets for poverty, and looks towards the future, planting the seeds of infrastructure and designing neighborhoods that integrate communities of various incomes. Councilman Alvarez believes that local government has the power to transform neighborhoods into modern communities where people can work and raise families in the same place. In running for Mayor of San Diego, we are sure he will bring this "community first" approach to every neighborhood in San Diego. As DMO of the Month we wish him all the best, and know that his locally grown ideas will serve the city well in the Mayor’s office.
DMO does not endorse or support candidates for office. We do help incumbent DMOs build the skills and identify the resources they need to run for reelection or for wider office. However, as part of our mission to "to create a political network of Democratic municipal officials to affect municipal elections; and to aid in the re-election efforts of incumbent municipal officials who are members of the Democratic Party", we hope to on occasion draw your attention when there is a clear Democrat versus Republican race featuring an incumbent DMO. This is one of those times. If you have an interest in learning more about Councilman Alvarez’s campaign for Mayor of the City of San Diego, please visit, alvarezformayor.com.