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To my community:

 

I was raised in City Heights, the child of working-class immigrant parents. Our family of six shared a two-bedroom apartment with a leaky roof and poor ventilation. I was bused out of my community to attend a high school with kids that were not my neighbors. Eventually I traded playing soccer with my friends after school and on the weekends for helping my mom clean houses. We had just one car at home until I was 19 years old and had to save enough money through my jobs as a cook, mechanic, and hotel worker to afford my own.

 

My mother is a housekeeper and my father a janitor, but it wasn’t until they joined their unions that our lives started to turn around.  I’ve since realized the value of a prevailing wage, a bargaining power, and our inherent need to support working families. 

 

For years, I witnessed people use our broken system as a tool for personal gain. I saw how my community was used as part of a political strategy, while my neighbors continued suffering from food insecurity and rising rent prices. My family felt this pain and I know this struggle firsthand.

 

Over the years I became engaged whichever way I could with an insatiable eagerness to enact change in my community. In between shifts at the tire shop and while taking classes at San Diego Mesa College, I became involved with my local town council, planning group and started two Democratic clubs.

 

In 2015, I was inspired to join a grassroots campaign that changed my life. A woman who reflected my community and our values stepped up to the plate and ran to represent all of us who had long felt voiceless and ignored. For a year and a half, we listened, we built, and we organized our friends and neighbors to ensure that we had a strong advocate at City Hall. 

 

It has been my greatest honor to serve my community as a Policy Advisor and Council Representative for our current Council President. In my role at City Hall, I focused my energy on pushing through policy geared towards housing and transportation. I was passionate about these issues because they were what had fueled my path to public service. I had learned from the age of 12 that my little sisters and I couldn’t complain about the mold in our walls because it was terrifying to think we could get kicked out or our rent could go up. I knew that in order to get to work on time, I had to make sure I was on the bus two hours before my shift started. Since day one, I knew these were the policies that I wanted to work on, because they were what my community needed most – these were the things that I needed most.

 

Recently, I have taken on the role of Director of Policy & Community Engagement with Laborers International Union of North America, Local 89, where I continue to advocate for working families through positive policy change, investing in our local economy and advocating for good paying jobs.

 

This is why we need leadership that’s rooted in our community. We need leadership that is truly devoted to our neighborhoods and understands that our issues are not political strategies, but human necessities. We are strong. We are resilient. We are deserving.  

 

District 9 has been my home. You have been my family. I am ready to fight for each of you at City Hall. I am running for San Diego City Council District 9 because our community does not need any more politicians who see our community as their political playground – we deserve responsive, accessible leadership, and a strong advocate who will work to ensure that all our neighborhoods are vibrant, safe, and its residents have the opportunities to live up to their full potential. I am running for us.

 

For our neighborhoods,

 

Kelvin Barrios