Her Campaign Is Over, But Vivian Moreno Is Still Knocking On Doors
Vivian Moreno's campaign for San Diego City Council might be more than five months behind her, but that hasn't stopped her from walking door-to-door in her district and introducing herself to constituents.
Moreno could be found canvassing the Stockton neighborhood on a recent Friday, handing out fliers advertising community events and informing residents about how to report issues to the city.
That was just one public-facing event on the day's agenda. Earlier she attended a fundraiser for the Nestor Language Academy, a bilingual charter school. Later she handed out certificates of recognition to graduates of Workshops for Warriors, a nonprofit based in Barrio Logan that trains veterans to be welders and machinists.
Moreno won her race last November by just 549 votes — a slim margin that is keeping her humble. Her campaign was rough, and included attack ads from the San Diego County Democratic Party labeling her "the choice of Trump Republicans." The ads were removed from Facebook after an outcry. Moreno is a Democrat, and does not support President Trump.
Moreno said the campaign had taught her the importance of basic outreach to the residents of District 8, which also includes Sherman Heights, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.
"One of the things that I heard on the campaign trail walking 8,000 doors was, 'You guys only come out when you guys need something, when you guys want a vote,'" she said. "So I committed to going out to the community, introducing myself to the residents."
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On matters of policy before the City Council, Moreno has not faded into the background. She chairs the council's Land Use and Housing committee, which is the first to review hot-button issues surrounding density, development and affordable housing. When Mayor Kevin Faulconer presented proposed incentives for building middle-income housing earlier this month, Moreno recommended a list of amendments before forwarding the matter to the full City Council.
Moreno said a large portion of her district is under the age of 18, and that the city has to allow the construction of more homes for them to grow into.
"My nieces and nephews are part of that population, and it behooves me to make sure that we enact ... reforms that will help build more housing," she said. "We are in the housing crunch that we are in right now because of the policy from people that governed before us."
The transition to City Council member has been smooth for Moreno — before her election, she worked as a community representative for her predecessor, former City Councilman David Alvarez. Alvarez at times had a rocky relationship with Faulconer, to whom he lost the 2014 special mayoral election, but Moreno said her relationship with the mayor has been "fantastic."
"I'm a very straight shooter, and I think he appreciates that," she said. "I'm not afraid to say, 'Hey, I'm not going to agree with you on this but we could work on other things.'"
One area of tension between Faulconer and Moreno has been homelessness. The mayor has championed a storage facility in Sherman Heights where people experiencing homelessness can keep their belongings. Moreno opposes the facility, and said homeless services are overly concentrated in the northern part of her district.
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Still, Moreno voted last week to advance Faulconer's revised version of the city's ban on people living in cars. In her public remarks on the proposal, Moreno pushed the mayor's office to limit new homeless services in her district. She did not address the concerns brought up in public testimony that the ban would further criminalize homelessness and poverty.
"I represent District 8, and the calls and the emails that we're getting — my response, or my comments that day and my vote that day reflect what my constituents have asked of me," Moreno said.
Moreno said she did not view homeless individuals who stay in her district as her constituents because they do not reside there permanently. When asked whose constituents they were, she said she was not sure.
What she is sure of is a feeling of responsibility toward young Latinas. Last week, she took part in a foot-washing ceremony for Holy Week at her church in Logan Heights.
"There was a young girl, like literally 9 years old, who was washing my feet," she said. "And I just thought like, 'I owe her to be a good role model and to strive to always do the best for her future.' And that's something that also I hold of importance in my heart."