By TINA RYNBERG and JEFF BENESCH
The Aug. 7 meeting of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club (LMFDC) will feature a critical forum for the candidates running to replace Scott Sherman as the San Diego District 7 City Council representative and the return of a pair of club favorites — one is perhaps the most powerful San Diego political voice in Sacramento, the other was the first Democrat to win a District 7 election in decades when she overcame long odds to capture the seat in 2008.
The first speaker of the evening will be Toni G. Atkins, president pro tempore of the California Senate. Atkins began her tenure as an elected official by serving eight years on the San Diego City Council, representing District 3. During her second term, she became acting mayor, receiving accolades for leading the city through tumultuous times. In 2010, she was elected to the state Assembly, and in 2014 she was selected as Speaker of the Assembly — becoming the first Speaker from San Diego. In 2016, she was elected to the state Senate, representing the 39th District, which includes much of central and northern San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Early last year, her colleagues selected her as their leader, making her the first woman ever to lead the Senate and the first person since the 19th century to have led both houses of the Legislature. Senate Leader Atkins will be up for reelection in 2020.
The focus of Senate Leader Atkins’ remarks will be California’s 2019-20 budget and its impact on Californians. The $215 billion budget includes the highest level of K-12 funding in the state’s history, increases access to higher education, invests in affordable housing, expands wildfire prevention and emergency preparedness, increases health care coverage, expands the earned income tax credit to help struggling families, invests in programs to help people experiencing homelessness and provides tax cuts to small businesses — all while creating the most robust reserve in the state’s history. Atkins will also highlight some key bills currently being considered by the Legislature, including her own SB 1 — the California Environment, Public Health and Workers Defense Act of 2019 — which provides that any federal environmental or worker-safety standard in place and effective before Jan. 22, 2017, shall remain in effect and be enforceable under California law even if the federal government rolls it back.
Marti Emerald, who made her mark locally as the ever-popular consumer advocate “Troubleshooter” on KGTV for more than two decades, parlayed that advocacy to a historic run for City Council in 2008, winning the District 7 seat which had been dominated by Republicans for many years. She won a second term on the City Council in 2012, this time in the newly formed District 9. To have Marti serve as our moderator for a panel of aspiring District 7 candidates is a terrific pairing.
Our panel of candidates for District 7 represents a broad swath of backgrounds, advocacies, and community involvement.
Wendy Wheatcroft boasts a 15-year career as an elementary school teacher, community advocate as a leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and founder of our country’s biggest local gun violence prevention coalition, San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention.
Raul Campillo, a native San Diegan and USD grad, sandwiched a public school teaching career with a Harvard Law degree, an international law firm post, working for Hillary for America, and more recently, a job as deputy city attorney with the San Diego City Attorney’s office.
Sharon Larios is a human service specialist with the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Department. Her broad background includes the Linda Vista Town Council and she was elected to the Linda Vista Planning Group. She’s also been a substance abuse counselor, case manager at the Door of Hope Transitional Housing Program, and intake specialist at Jewish Family Services.
Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. is a mediator, arbitrator and referee. Monty has been a California lawyer since 1980, a trained mediator since 1993, and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates since 1995. Monty served as the president of the San Diego County Bar Association in 2002.
David Greco, an honored law school graduate at USD, was also co-founder of Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE), his high school’s first LGBT organization. His experience as a lawyer highlights his commitment to community, with a focus on helping employees and other vulnerable community members, such as people with disabilities.
The Aug. 7 meeting is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, just north of University Avenue in La Mesa.
— Tina Rynberg is president and Jeff Benesch is vice president of programming for the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. lamesafoothillsdemcoraticclub.com.