I am a public interest attorney running for San Diego City Council, District 1, in the June 5, 2012 election. As an elected city councilmember, I will continue fighting for environmental protection, governmental transparency and fiscal responsibility.
I live in La Jolla Colony. My law office is in Banker’s Hill, which I share with environmental attorneys Todd Cardiff and Craig Sherman. My notable past victories have included winning free speech cases against Fashion Valley Mall, Target Corporation, Sinclair Oil Corporation (dba the Westgate Hotel), Brea Mall, and the City of San Diego. I have also won several lawsuits protecting the La Jolla seals and saving millions of taxpayer dollars. The incumbent District 1 councilmember was outvoted 7-1 when she tried to force the city to spend millions of tax dollars on dredging 50,000 cubic feet of sand from Children’s Pool Beach and destroying the seal rookery there.
My first job at age 16 was knocking on doors to sign people up as members of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), the largest consumer and environmental protection group in New York State. President Obama also got his start in community organizing working for NYPIRG.
I worked for NYPIRG for the next four summers, until I was the outreach director of the Binghamton office, where at age 20 I hired, trained and supervised a staff of 20 to raise over $80,000 in three months to help pass a law requiring pesticide companies to notify neighbors in advance when they were going to spray lawns with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.
The summer of my junior year at Cornell University, I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor for a summer program for developmentally disabled children. In my final semester of college, I interned in the office of Assemblyman Peter Rivera, who hired me to stay on as staff through the remainder of the legislative session before heading to law school in the fall at the State University of New York at Buffalo. For my final semester of law school, I was a visiting student at Oxford University.
My first summer job in law school was working as a human rights legal analyst at the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission. There I investigated human rights complaints, interviewed witnesses, conducted depositions, and wrote final determinations regarding whether violations had occurred.
While in law school, I co-founded the Animal Protection and Rescue League, living in Oakland and San Francisco for the next two summers, and building the organization’s membership from the ground up using the canvassing skills I learned at NYPIRG. I moved to San Diego in 2004 immediately after law school and took the bar exam here, which I passed on my first attempt without taking any preparatory classes.
While continuing to build APRL, I went to work part time in the legal compliance division of a major nutritional supplement company based in Carlsbad called SeaSilver. Due to a previous lengthy receivership by the FTC due to false advertising complaints, the company had lost and never regained its market footing, and went out of business about two years after I started working there. However, many of the contacts I made at the company continued to utilize my legal services, and I started a solo practice in 2006.
In 2008, I worked with the Humane Society of the United States to help pass Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. This was the first law in the country to ban cruel battery cages, which are the industry standard for egg production, in which hens are crammed so tightly together they cannot even turn around or spread a wing for their entire miserable lives. The statewide initiative passed by a landslide 63% of the vote, receiving bi-partisan support and a higher margin of victory than Obama in 2008. I personally collected over 1500 signatures to help get Prop 2 on the ballot.
Also in 2008, I was elected by the 16,000 member/owners of the Ocean Beach People’s cooperative to serve on the board of directors with seven other board members. People's is a $12M per year business and was voted best health food store in the county by Union Tribune readers last year. I am now at the end of my second two-year term and up for re-election. During my four years as a board member, we have paid over $1M down on the building loan, leaving only $500K outstanding. At the same time as taking a fiscally conservative approach to managing the store's finances, we as a board have also supported numerous charities and activities throughout the region, including sending La Jolla High School students to Willow Farm to learn about organic farming.
I look forward to continuing to serve our community as a member of the San Diego City Council for District 1.