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A Closer Look At San Diego’s District 8

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Aired 5/3/10

San Diego’s 8th Council District is geographically unique. The district is split in half by the cities of Chula Vista and National City. Seven candidates are running to represent the district on the San Diego City Council. KPBS spoke with three of them in different locations in the district.

— San Diego’s 8th council district is geographically unique. The district is split in half by the cities of Chula Vista and National City. Seven candidates are running to represent the district on the San Diego City Council. KPBS spoke with three of them in different locations in the district.

Felipe and Teresina Hueso stand in the kitchen of their Sherman Heights home.
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Above: Felipe and Teresina Hueso stand in the kitchen of their Sherman Heights home.

David Alvarez stands in the Latte Mi Corazon coffee shop in Sherman Heights.
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Above: David Alvarez stands in the Latte Mi Corazon coffee shop in Sherman Heights.

Nick Inzunza Sr. at Montgomery Waller Community Park in Otay Mesa/ Nestor in the southern half of District 8.
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Above: Nick Inzunza Sr. at Montgomery Waller Community Park in Otay Mesa/ Nestor in the southern half of District 8.

Attorney Felipe Hueso and his wife Teresina live in a restored craftsman home on Market Street in Sherman Heights. The couple moved into the house 20 years ago and it was in bad shape. Hueso said the process of restoring his house could be a metaphor for parts of the district. What was once a mess is now a beautiful home thanks to hard work.

Hueso sat in his open airy kitchen and said a similar effort needs to be made in the 8th district. He said people are concerned about basic services.

“There are parts of the district where they have no sidewalks, they have no stop signs, and people don’t stop, so there are accidents all the time,” he said.

Hueso is the older brother of current District 8 councilman Ben Hueso. He said the name recognition helps. But he said he believes he’s actually more qualified for the office than his brother and has more experience. He bristled at the notion of being classified as a typical politician. He said he could have easily gotten in trouble when he was growing up.

“I came up in a very bad part of town,” Hueso said. “And, yeah, maybe you think all politicians are the same. But you don’t know who I am. You don’t know what I’ve accomplished in my life.”

Challenger David Alvarez said he’s had some major accomplishments too. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. Now Alvarez works in the office of State Senator Denise Ducheny.

Alvarez drank coffee in a small cafe on 25th near Imperial Avenue. He grew up in Barrio Logan in the 1980s and said it wasn’t safe to come to this part of town then.

“When I was growing up I couldn’t come across Commercial or Imperial because the other gangs on this side, the Sherman gangs and the Logan gangs weren’t friends,” he said.

But Alvarez said things are different now. He and his wife and newborn baby often walk to the coffee shop and taco stands around the neighborhood without worrying about their safety. But he said his experiences growing up showed him that District 8 has to fight for services harder than other parts of the city. He said basic things like street lights are hard to get.

“In the southern part of San Diego, my district, people feel like police response is not adequate. There’s not enough presence in the community,” he said.

Alvarez said the people he meets want to see improvements in the district. Candidate Nick Inzunza Sr. serves on the South Bay Union School Board. He said he sees the need for more recognition of the district.

“We do feel like the lost and forgotten step child of the city of San Diego. Yeah, it’s a big thing over here,” he said.

Inzunza sat inside the recreation center at the sprawling, green Montgomery Waller Community Park -- just north of San Ysidro in the southern part of the district. The park’s rolling hills provide a million-dollar view of the ocean and nearby Mexico.

Inzunza is the uncle of former District 8 councilman Ralph Inzunza. He said he’s proud of his family name and their hard work. But Inzunza said the district doesn’t get enough respect from the city.

“Infrastructure’s a big thing over in the South Bay,” he said. “We’re very concerned with the streets. And we’re very concerned with what we feel is the dumping of things in the South Bay.”

Inzunza said more than 75 percent of the District 8 population lives in the southern section, 14 miles down the interstate from city hall. He said the community there wants to feel more connected to San Diego and he’s the guy to make it happen.

It’s an argument each candidate will continue making as they head toward the June 8 primary.

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