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Residents In San Diego City Council District 9 Speak Their Minds

San Diego City Council District Candidates are pictured, Jan. 2020.

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: San Diego City Council District Candidates are pictured, Jan. 2020.

City Council President Georgette Gomez’s decision to leave the council and run for Congress means her District 9 seat is up for grabs. A crowded field of candidates hoping to take her place in a district that includes City Heights, Kensington and the College area.

The better known candidates include: Sean Elo, a nonprofit executive; Kelvin H. Barrios,a former policy advisor for Gomez; and Sam Bedwell, a business consultant and entrepreneur.

Others include: business owner Andrew Gade, homeless advocate Johnny Lee Dang; music teacher Ross Naismith and army veteran Alex Soto.

KPBS spoke to residents in the district about what they’re looking for in a candidate.

Angel Morales is a manager at Fresh Garden Market in the city’s Mount Hope neighborhood. He says the community is being negatively impacted by homelessness, trash and graffiti.

Morals is also concerned about pedestrian traffic across from his store. Although there’s a crosswalk at Market and 43rd streets, he says it is insufficient. “They put this like five years ago and I and I can tell you how many people have gotten hit,” Morales said.

Morales said the city should make improvements, including a divider that would make cars come to a complete stop at the crosswalk.

Laura Ann Fernea is the executive director of the City Heights Community Development Corporation. She agrees there are serious infrastructure needs, but said the district’s next councilmember must address the need for more affordable housing and protections for renters.

“We have had people coming into our office for the last few years over and over again asking for help because they’re being evicted,” Fernea said.

Fernea added that the district needs a representative who will listen to constituents.

“That person as long as they are really communicating ... having staff providing resources and policies that can protect people,” Fernea said.

She also hopes they will continue collaborating with the development corporation in the same spirit as Gomez and others before her have.

“I’m really hopeful about the next person that it is someone that we can continue to work with as we’ve had some great district reps in the past and currently,” she said.

The top two vote getters in the March 3 primary will move on to the November general election.

Listen to this story by Ebone Monet.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the name of candidate Johnny Lee Dang.

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