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Myrtle Cole Wins District 4 Election

May 22, 2013 1:28 p.m.


Myrtle Cole, San Diego City Councilmember-elect, representing the 4th District

Related Story: Big Night For Labor With Cole, Gonzalez Wins On City Council, State Assembly


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

FUDGE: Now we speak with Myrtle Cole. She won the race yesterday for the San Diego City Council's 4th District, which includes most of southeast San Diego, a racially diverse district which was recently represented by Tony Young. Young quit his job to run the local Red Cross. She is a former police officer and the Regional Coordinator for the United Domestic Workers union.

COLE: Thank you for having me.

FUDGE: And congratulations, first of all.

COLE: Thank you!

FUDGE: And what are your feelings about winning in the 4th district?

COLE: I'm excited. I'm excited to get started, Tom. Looking forward to getting in office, making some changes, making sure that we all come together, that we start healing as a community, as a district. And I'm ready to get to work!

FUDGE: You ran against another Democrat named Dwayne Crenshaw. And the contest got pretty personal. What do you think was your message which eventually won the race?

COLE: Well, my message was putting neighborhoods first. My message was integrity. My message was I've been there, I can get the job done, I have a lot of people that endorse me, that trust me, that know that I can get the job done. That's why I had so many people walking for me, so many people endorsing me, and that's why I won because they know that I will put the members of the 4th council district first and put neighborhoods first.

FUDGE: Your race against Dwayne Crenshaw got fairly personal. One of your mailers accused your opponent of using drugs, incorrectly, it seems. Is that something you regret?

COLE: You know, I will not say anything about that. Things happen over the course of a campaign. Unfortunate things happen over the course of a campaign, both to myself, and to the opponent. I hate to say that's politics, because that should not be. But that's how it was. And that's all I can say about that.

FUDGE: I mentioned that you're a union organizer. And I think at least half of your financial support came from labor unions. Now I'm going to ask you a question I asked Lorena Gonzalez, what do you say to people who think you won't be tough enough on limiting may to unions in interest of keeping the San Diego budget in check?

COLE: Well, first of all, my door will be open to everyone. I will welcome small businesses. I will welcome everyone to my office. And No.2, labor is just a small word for working families. That's all we are, working families. We're teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, sanitation drivers, lifeguards. That's what we are. And I am so proud to be represented and to be endorsed by working families.

FUDGE: What would you say are your goals for your time in office? I think you got into this a little bit. But elaborate on that question.

COLE: My goal No.1, is public safety. When I walked through the doors of the voters, first thing they say, I am scared to go outside of my home. I'm scared to leave my home. So public safety is No.1. So I'm going to get with the police officers and make sure that our streets are safe and that we have a better relationship with the residents, that the police and the residents have a great relationship. That's what I'm going to start working on. No.2, infrastructure. I was standing on the corner, and the streets were cracked, the sidewalks were cracked, we have to address the infrastructure. And then of course, jobs. We need good-paying jobs, quality jobs, and services in our community.

FUDGE: The 4th district is low-income in many ways. What can the city do to improve the lives of people who live there in terms of infrastructure needs or anything else you can think of?

COLE: Well, exactly that. We have to invest in our neighborhoods. We have to put neighborhoods first. That's what Bob Filner got into office to say. Neighborhoods first. That's what I will do. Making sure that we do pave our streets, that we do address our broken infrastructure. We have to address that, we have to pave our streets and make sure that we have walkable communities. And again jobs, good-paying jobs is what we need in our district. We need to bring those jobs in. And services. We spent $870 million outside of our district, and we have to bring those dollars back into our district.

FUDGE: Ms. Cole, let me ask you a question about infrastructure for the 4th district. Why were you opposed to the creation of a shopping center in the district that would build a Walmart store?

COLE: Well, until Walmart pays good-paying jobs, and pay their employees decent wages, until they give them health benefits, I cannot support something like that. I want the jobs in our community to be quality jobs and to have good wages and health benefits. That's what I want for the residents of my district. And Walmart does not given us this yet. If they do, then I will welcome Walmart.

FUDGE: What about your constituents who want a place where they can shop and buy groceries?

COLE: Absolutely I will bring those shops in. I want to bring in a different grocery store into our district. That's the first thing that I said, that we only have really two grocery store, a food for less and a Ralph's. I want to bring other Ralph's, Albertsons, are Vons or one world markets. We are going to bring grocery stores into our district. We will do that.

FUDGE: As long as they're not Walmart, it sounds like.

COLE: Well, Walmart should start paying better wages to their employees, treating their employees with respect and dignity. Once they do that, then I will welcome Walmart.

FUDGE: All right, well, thank you, ma'am. I've been speaking with Myrtle Cole, thank you very much for joining us.

COLE: You're welcome, thank you for having me.