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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Nora Vargas Discusses Priorities For Southwest San Diego County

Speaker 1: 00:00 Well, it looks to be quite a change after being represented by the same Republican supervisor for 25 years, residents of San Diego county's district one will soon have a new representative who is a Democrat district. One is the Southwest portion of the County and includes the county's second largest city Chula Vista. Nora Vargas is president of the Southwest college governing board and work as an executive with planned Parenthood for 20 years. And nor of Argus joins me now, welcome to midday edition. Well, first off you're ahead by more than 30,000 votes yet, not all votes have been counted. And your opponent fellow Democrat, Ben waySo is not yet conceited. Although a incumbent gray Cox called and congratulated you what's the status of the district one race in your eyes right now? Speaker 2: 00:43 Well, you know, it looks really, really good. Um, after two years of really hard work, um, I think that, uh, we, uh, the voters have made a decision. Uh, the actual, uh, election will not be final until December 2nd, but the probability of the changes, any other changes happening are very slim to none. So I think we're, we're in a really good place. Um, and we are now in the transition process. Speaker 1: 01:08 Now you'll be the first Latina on the board of supervisors. How do you feel about that? Speaker 2: 01:12 No, I am extremely humbled and I'm honored to have had the trust of the residents of district one and for all their support, I have no doubt that I'm going to continue to fight for them, you know, representation matters. And I really do stand on the shoulders of so many, uh, community activists and leaders in our community. And, uh, you know, the people that came before me that really created this opportunity to, so someone like me could actually be a candidate and win in this school. Speaker 1: 01:41 Your district has been one of the areas hardest hit by coronavirus in our County. Uh, what are your goals when it comes to addressing this pandemic and recovering from the economic impacts? Speaker 2: 01:51 Yeah, so actually, you know, throughout the campaign, after the primary, when COVID hit, um, you know, I really made sure that we hit the ground running as a campaign and we, we used all of our resources to help our community. And so I heard firsthand, uh, from our community what their needs were. And so mitigating the impacts of COVID is going to be absolutely a priority for me. As a matter of fact, this week, I'm meeting with County health experts on COVID to make sure that we, that I have all the information that I need as we're, as we're entering this new phase. But I think the County has a responsibility to invest in our communities. Uh, they have done some testing and some contract tracing, but I think there's more work to be done. Testing has to continue to be a priority. I think that, uh, we have to figure out a way to partner up with small businesses so that we can make sure that they have the relief that they ha they can, they can get. Speaker 2: 02:40 I'm nervous about the different holidays that are coming up. I think it's very natural for people to want to come together, but I think that we need to make sure we continue to communicate with folks that it is in our best interest for us to make sure that we're maintaining social distances, that we are continuing to use our mask, that we are taking care of each and, you know, healthcare access is a huge issue in district one. The disparities, uh, have been real for decades. And so working together with community clinics and, uh, with our community to find out how we better address some of this is going to be one of my priorities Speaker 1: 03:14 Outside of Corona virus. What are your priorities as one of five members of the County board of supervisors? Speaker 2: 03:20 Well, I mean, I think that mitigating the impacts of the coordinate virus is really a big priority for me. And although there's a lot of issues that we need to address until we have a healthy community, it's going to be tough to move forward. But I think parallel to that, I think is going to be the workaround health disparities, addressing health disparities and the inequity. So really making sure that we have the data that we need to be able to move forward is going to be a priority that the quantum river Valley sewage issue is a big one for us in our community. Want to make sure that the County addresses this immediately. So working with my colleagues, um, I think it's going to be critical, uh, that, that we declare this a public health care crisis. Uh, this is really an important issue for all of us. Speaker 2: 04:01 And it has been impacting the community for years. Access to childcare is another big issue for, for us in our communities. As we're trying to, we talk about economic prosperity and how do we recover? I think the County needs San Diego really needs to invest in strong economic recovery plan. That includes childcare infrastructure. And so working with my colleagues on that issue is going to be important to me. In addition, you know, all the work that I will be doing really is going to have this component of our families first. And how do we make sure that the communities of district one have what they need to be able to, you know, basic needs that they need to be able to continue to move forward. And so I will be releasing my family's first initiative, um, in the next couple of weeks to make sure that, that we are advancing accordingly. Speaker 1: 04:44 The first time in memory Democrats will have a majority on the County board. How do you think the change from Republican to democratic control will affect the direction of the board? Speaker 2: 04:53 Well, I think that, you know, you have between supervisor lag, Terra loss of memory and supervisor make them Fletcher. I think that we, our vision or the County is really one where we are ensuring that our families come first, that working families have what they need, that we, our environment is a priority, right? Uh, climate action. We don't have a climate action plan. I think those are the issues that we're going to be addressing. Head-on, uh, as we move forward, uh, I want to make sure that our County employees understand that we have a very different vision of what, where we're going and what we want to do. And so I think that there's a lot of work that we're gonna be doing together. And really, I think what's important is that our values are very aligned. I would say, uh, in that we want to make sure that our communities have what they need to make sure that they're thriving in the County of San Diego. Speaker 1: 05:40 You have given your cell number out and encourage residents to call or text. What kinds of messages have you gotten? Speaker 2: 05:46 Well, you know, a lot of messages of hope, a lot of messages, um, you know, I, I, English is my second language, so I speak Spanish. And so I get a lot of conversations with a lot of our community members, older gentlemen and ladies, uh, from our community seniors who are checking in with me and letting me know that they have concerns, um, some of the issues around homelessness, some of the issues, you know, in our shelter communities, um, they have questions. They just really want to make sure that they have a representative that's responsive and that's going to be there for them. And so I'm committed to doing that work. I it's what I've done as an elected official at the community college. And so I really do pride myself in being transparent and accountable to my constituents and someone that people could reach out to. You know, I, I always say I don't have the answers, all the answers, but I, what I do have is, you know, a willingness to listen to folks, um, to address and how we, uh, you know, address some of these issues. So I'm excited about it and, and people are so respectful of just not, you know, bombarding me with stuff and they've been able to follow up and it's been great. It's been great. Speaker 1: 06:50 I've been speaking with Nora Vargas who looks to be the new supervisor for district one in San Diego County. Thanks very much. And congratulations. Thank you so much. Speaker 3: 07:06 [inaudible].

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In the District 1 San Diego County Supervisors race, Nora Vargas leads her opponent Sen. Ben Hueso by 30,000 votes.
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