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LATEST UPDATES: Election 2020: Live Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

Chaotic Race For District 9

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ANDI DUKLETH

Above: City Council District 9 Candidate Sean Elo-Rivera talks to KPBS outside of Hoover High School in Talmadge on October 7th, 2020.

Organized labor and community member support shifted to District 9 candidate Sean-Elo Rivera after opponent Kelvin Barrios suspended his campaign last month. Plus, in an ongoing series, KPBS is examining data tracked by the county to monitor coronavirus in the region, including community outbreaks. And our picks for arts and culture events this weekend include the San Diego International Film Festival, live music and drive-in jazz.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Two candidates, but only one campaigning and San Diego's district nine,

Speaker 2: 00:05 But it's tough to campaign against somebody who's still on the ballot, but is not actively there.

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS day edition. We'll track the changing significance of counting community outbreaks in San Diego.

Speaker 2: 00:30 It hits me hard because I was like, Oh, you know, you really hope it doesn't happen.

Speaker 1: 00:34 Installation art of film festival and drive in jazz, coming up on our weekend, preview, stay with us for midday edition. That's coming up next.

Speaker 1: 01:00 San Diego city council district nine, stretches from the neighborhoods of Kensington and the college area in the North to Mount hope and South crest to the South with city Heights sitting in the central heart of the district council, president Georgette Gomez represents the district now, but she's running for Congress. So Kelvin Barrios and Sean ELO Rivera ended up vying for the seat after the March primary, but now only one of them has left on the campaign trail. Joining me with more on the district. Nine race is KPBS reporter max Revlin Nadler, and max. Welcome. Good to be here. First, tell us what happened to the campaign of Kelvin Barrios.

Speaker 2: 01:41 Originally the problems with his campaign stemmed from a spending that was known with that. Basically he had done as treasurer, a volunteer treasurer for the San Diego County young Democrats, where several thousand dollars were misspent possibly on personal items. He ended up settling with, um, a campaign finance board and, and admitting that he had misused. Some of that funding that got dredged back up during the general election between him and Sean ELO Rivera, especially when Barrios went out of his way to say that he wasn't under a criminal investigation for that matter. Something, the district attorney never likes is when you go out of your way and say that an investigation is closed or not under investigation. So they took the extraordinary step of saying, actually he's still under investigation and that case hasn't closed. So we had a cloud hanging over him from that. Then there were disclosures that he did not make on his necessary financial disclosure forms for running for this position, including the fact that he held two jobs at the same time. And one of those jobs was for the city council and for a union, uh, that he would then eventually went to work for. And that on top of that, that he just didn't declare an entire year of salary that he had received from the labor union he's currently works for previously had interacted with, well, he was a city, a staffer.

Speaker 1: 03:01 So he has suspended. His campaigning was Kelvin Barrios, the leading candidate in this race.

Speaker 2: 03:09 Yes, he absolutely was the leader in this race. He had the most money. He had the endorsements of several high profile Democrats in the race, including city council, president Georgette Gomez, who we used to work for. Um, it was a divided field in the March primary, but if you had to look at it, Barrios was definitely leading.

Speaker 1: 03:28 Now you spoke with the candidate who remains on the campaign trail in district nine. What is the background of Sean Isla Rivera?

Speaker 2: 03:36 So Shawnee little Rivera is a right now the executive director of a youth focused nonprofit called youth. Well, which works with young people and kind of advocates on their behalf and tries to get resources for young people in San Diego. At the same time, he's sitting on the San Diego community college board. He won that race two years ago. He comes from a law background. He has a law degree, but as he told me, he, he went and started doing, um, advocacy work and civil legal litigation in city Heights around a decade ago, and saw that many of the issues could only be solved really at a political level. And that's what drove him into politics.

Speaker 1: 04:16 And what does he see as the big issues in district nine,

Speaker 2: 04:19 Housing and homelessness? Obviously this is true throughout the city, but especially in district nine, you have an affordability crisis. You have rising home prices and rents as a lawyer. He sees the need for civil legal advocacy, including for small businesses, dealing with the pandemic and trying to cut through red tape and get the help they need and stay open. So that's a huge issue. He also sees transit as a big issue, making sure that this area, which is quite sprawling is better served by public transit. All of these tie into the pandemic in some way, because these impacts that we're seeing in the pandemic are disparate and usually impact people from immigrant communities and low income communities. The hardest

Speaker 1: 05:00 Now creating opportunity, especially for young people is something he talked with you about.

Speaker 2: 05:06 Yeah. So obviously it comes from this youth advocacy background given his current position. And so he's interested in making sure that young people in San Diego are looked after and that's something that he hasn't seen from city council. So this is something that he proposed doing as he was talking with me, I would really like to see the city invest in jobs programs for young people. What does that mean to conservation Corps and environmental core that has helping keeping our, our neighborhoods clean good chances for young people to build their resumes, to gain experience at the same time, give back to their community.

Speaker 1: 05:35 Now, since Isla Rivera is the only candidate on the campaign trail, how has this unusual campaign taking place? Obviously no debates,

Speaker 2: 05:43 Right? So Isla Rivera has been the only candidate on the campaign trail for some time, because even before Barrios officially suspended his campaign, he wasn't doing really any debates or any public appearances. Um, so Isla Rivera is trying to reach and go talk to as many community members as possible. Sometimes this is uncomfortable being the only candidate who is actually out there. So he takes the brunt of kind of people's frustrations and people who might disagree with his positions, but it's tough to campaign against somebody who's still on the ballot, but is not actively there.

Speaker 3: 06:16 So Barrios, as you say, is still on the ballot, if he should win, is he facing any kind of legal problem related to the scandal that forced him to drop out of this race?

Speaker 2: 06:27 I think it's really unlikely that any legal repercussions will follow Barrios. I think really where he angered the district attorney in that matter was saying that the case was closed. They really don't like that. Um, I think basically if he should win, he will make the argument that listen, I was very clear with all of the problems I had in running my race. And yet the district still felt I was the better option. So I deserve to represent them. So right now it's a guy who is running for the seat, who should he win? We'll take the seat and the guy who's not running for the seat. And if he does win, he'll take the seat.

Speaker 3: 07:01 Okay. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter max Roven Adler max. Thanks.

Speaker 2: 07:07 Thank you.

Speaker 3: 07:12 A community outbreak of COVID-19 is defined as three cases or more among people who live in different households. San Diego County tallies it's outbreaks to monitor Corona virus spread, but in our ongoing series about the county's Cova data KPBS health reporter, Taran mento says the significance of counting outbreaks has waned. The university Christian Church bells are a familiar sound and San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood, but there used to be another melody ringing from the sanctuary, the San Diego gay men's chorus rehearsed in the space for its upcoming Broadway concert series. But the group went quiet in March executive director. Jeff Heiney says they cancelled rehearsals as a precaution. There was an unknown quantity to this, this virus. The show was delayed until next year, but we wanted it to be safe. The last rehearsal was 10 days before governor Gavin Newsome ordered all Californians to stay,

Speaker 2: 08:09 Goes into force and effect. This evening,

Speaker 3: 08:12 The COVID was already in the door. For course, members would later test positive and become one of the region's first community outbreaks. Yes,

Speaker 2: 08:19 It hit me hard because I was like, Oh, you know, you really hope it doesn't. Yeah.

Speaker 3: 08:23 There've been hundreds of outbreaks in San Diego County since then. And officials track those clusters to measure how much COVID is spreading outbreaks are one of 13 triggers. The County uses to determine public health restrictions, but a KPBS review of the triggers found it's a complicated and evolving system. For example, there should be no more than six community outbreaks in a week, but we've exceeded that number for months. The San Diego unified school district initially said classrooms wouldn't reopen until we met that goal. But both County and school officials are this metric for the gay men's chorus news of COVID illnesses. Circulated just days after practice was canceled,

Speaker 4: 09:03 A singer would post something on Facebook saying that they were home sick,

Speaker 3: 09:07 Tiny, eventually contacted the health department. He said he was told the info, help them link the cases together.

Speaker 4: 09:13 They have tested positive. We have their names already. You're just helping us to connect the dots

Speaker 3: 09:17 County health officials connect a lot of these dots. At one point, staff confirmed 40 community outbreaks in a week. There are fewer now, but still more than the threshold and the counties dr. Wilma Wooten is giving the metric a second look to determine going forward. If that number should change or remain the same, that was a month ago. County doctors wouldn't give an interview for this story, but a spokeswoman says they're still reviewing the threshold. In the meantime, parents have pushed San Diego unified for a clear reopening plan, not acceptable, but other parents are pushing to reopen only when experts say it's safe. UC San Diego is dr. Howard terrace is advising the district on when that is. He says he acknowledged early on plans could change the school board, just okayed sending a small percentage of students back to limited in person learning next week.

Speaker 4: 10:08 It doesn't worry me to open schools more than we are now into Santa Ana unified school district. Um, if only community outbreaks, especially the type of community outbreaks that we're seeing, um, is still not quite yet.

Speaker 3: 10:28 Meanwhile, all four seen Diego gay men's chorus members have recovered including one who was hospitalized. Heinie says, he's not sure where or how COVID was transmitted, but he thinks at least one singer contracted it from his job in the middle.

Speaker 4: 10:43 Not necessarily with the chorus at all. So he was hospitalized.

Speaker 3: 10:47 A County spokeswoman said linking an outbreak to an organization or a location. Doesn't mean that's where transmission occurred, but the chorus rehearsal space is still

Speaker 4: 10:56 God. I miss it. I really miss it.

Speaker 3: 10:58 I did briefly reconnect in June at Balboa park. They recorded a socially distance video to them singing somewhere over the rainbow.

Speaker 4: 11:13 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 11:14 Passers by recognize them. Heinie says after canceling two seasons of concerts and profits, the experience lifted the course of year.

Speaker 4: 11:22 I think for the people who gathered too, I mean, it kind of gets you wondering, well, what would stop us from just going out into the park and just singing Christmas carols in December,

Speaker 3: 11:33 Their returned to Broadway show is scheduled for April, but it's unclear what the data will allow then right now live theater is not part of any phase of the governor's reopening plan. Taryn mento KPBS news KPBS will continue to report stories on the regions. 13 triggers as part of its ongoing series. You can look@alldatapointsusingthekpbstriggertrackeratkpbs.org.

Speaker 5: 12:09 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 12:15 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen OB shipboard chamber music drive in jazz and local films that take on life in quarantine. We have quite a wide range of arts and culture topics on this weekend. Preview joining me is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon, Evans, and Julia. Welcome.

Speaker 5: 12:36 Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me now

Speaker 1: 12:38 Thick of film festival season, it seems, and San Diego international film festival has paired with San Diego film week to include local works. So what can we expect? Yeah,

Speaker 5: 12:51 So there's a lot of great movies in that festival, but the virtual and some drive in options by one to focus on the local stuff for now, there's a new documentary that one San Diego couples started when they were diagnosed with COVID and it's one of the first films like that. And, um, in addition, San Diego film week will screen their best films of the year. And if you remember early on in the pandemic, San Diego film week launched their quarantine film challenge. It got submissions from all over and they've selected a bunch of these all made during and about quarantine from all kinds of genres. And they'll have an award ceremony on Sunday night, but the films are available to stream right now. And they, the festivals grouped all of the locally relevant stuff as locals theater. And you can get a special festival pass just for that.

Speaker 1: 13:42 The San Diego film week and San Diego international film festival quarantine film awards will be streamed live on Sunday at 6:30 PM. And all films are streaming online. Now through Sunday, the Houseman quartet returns with a streamed version of their chamber music performances. What will we find in this weekend's program? That's called inhale exhale.

Speaker 5: 14:10 Yeah. So how's has done one other virtual version of these quarterly heightened voyages series from a board, the Berkeley ship, which is a historic ship it's part of the maritime museum. And every time they pair Haydn and other classical composers with more contemporary works. So this Sunday's performance is all on the theme of songs that kind of breathe or are they move from one extreme to the other. There is a heightened quartet at Beethoven work, but then this 2009 piece called frayed by American composer, Hannah lash let's have a listen to the has-been quartet on that inhaling exhaling part

Speaker 6: 14:59 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 15:14 Yeah, that was frayed by composer Hannah lash, the Houseman quartet streams their performance from aboard the Berkeley on Sunday at 4:00 PM in the visual art world artist, Jean lo has a new site specific work at Quint one. What is this installation, Julia, and how do we see it? Well, Jean Lowe recently installed this piece at current one. It's called pal, which stands for portraits of women. It's site-specific. So when I say installed, I mean, a lot of it's painted directly on the walls of the gallery. So when it closes, it really closes that installation's commentary on the way women are portrayed in abstract expressionism and modernism. So she took three works by the Casa de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and did her own spin on them. And I loved what she told me about how women perceive this too, that it might be liberating to be seen as this is a quote, a fierce, crazy hag, a sturdy powerful woman.

Speaker 5: 16:13 Uh, there's also a painted rag from her series and these, these cloth Mashay plants in pots, they're all sculptural and some absurdist paper Mashay books, it's kind of her signature. It all looks so lifelike from afar that when you approach your perception kind of dissolves, it's really worth making an appointment for a visit. Jane Lowe's power installation is now on view at Quinn one in LA Jolla by appointment through November 10th. And we have some drive in jazz this weekend, which you know, is a sentence that would have sounded quite strange nine months ago. But tell me a little about Charles MacPherson and his mainly Mozart performance on Sunday. Yeah. So mainly Mozart's driving performances at the Delmar fairgrounds from the summer. They've really shaken things up regionally for the performing arts. It inspired the San Diego opera to dip their toes in the drive in world too. It was so successful. They're bringing back some all-stars, I'm excited for a little Sunday night jazz with legendary Charles McPherson. He's a saxophonist he's in his eighties and just put out a new album a few weeks ago. And he's the composer in residence at the San Diego ballet, which you got to say, it's kind of a cool job. And he has a really incredible resumes collaborated with Charles Mingus, Wynton Marsalis and Moore. And he was also a recent San Diego creative catalyst grant recipient for work with choreographer, Javier Velazco called suite synergy. Sweet

Speaker 6: 17:49 [inaudible].

Speaker 5: 18:10 So that's sweet synergy suite by Charles McPherson and he'll play selections from that plastic Gershman malady. Harold Arlen's get happy and a string horn spin on. Ellington's take the Adrian plus also he'll do a piece he composed after the 2016 election called reflections on an election.

Speaker 1: 18:31 I couldn't be more timely. Could it mainly Mozart's a night with jazz legend. Charles MacPherson takes place sunday@sevenpmatthedelmarfairgroundslotformoreartseventsortosignupfortheweeklykpbsartsnewslettergotokpbs.org slash arts. And I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans. Julia. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 18:55 Thanks Maureen. And have a good weekend.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.