Tag: Omar

[Special Episode]: The San Diego Union-Tribune County Supervisor Endorsement Interview

[Special Episode]: The San Diego Union-Tribune County Supervisor Endorsement Interview

Click to view in iTunes
Part of the process of running for elected office involves seeking endorsements from various trade organizations, labor unions, business groups, community and advocacy groups, and news publications. Most of the organizations that endorse political candidates provide questionnaires of varying lengths to get candidates to explain their positions on issues important to the organizations.  For example, I was endorsed by Bike San Diego, it published all of the candidates’ completed questionnaires on its website here.

For the Union-Tribune, the editorial board interview included several journalists who write about various aspects of San Diego politics and civic affairs.  The discussion was pretty conversational, but was intentionally designed to help provide the editorial board with a real picture of where I stand as a candidate, what my background is, and what I intend to push for if elected.

The Union-Tribune also published each candidates’ answers to the board’s questionnaire, you can find my answers here.

Hope4Homeless: My personal connection to this crisis

Hope4Homeless: My personal connection to this crisis

In my early 30s I received a letter from my biological mother. I grew up in San Diego’s foster care system so I did not know my mother for most of my life. In the letter, she asked me to go and thank her friends at the Neil Good Day Center for their help when she was homeless in San Diego.  She was asking me to thank people who almost certainly were no longer there 25+ years later. I knew she had mental illness and was disabled, but I didn’t know the extent until I read that letter.

I did as she asked and as I walked from my car near 17th and Island past the discarded needles, trash, and sadness on the faces of the homeless men and women around me, the experience really impacted me. I didn’t find anyone who remembered my mother, but the experience stayed with me. It motivated me to do more.

I joined the board of Rachel’s Women’s Center and began to look for ways to better address homelessness. I joined the Board of United Way of San Diego County, who had been responsible for Project 25 – a wildly successful effort to house the most needy homeless San Diegans who were the highest users of health and law enforcement services.  My biological mother’s life experiences shaped the contours of my life in ways I did not expect. I am grateful for the support I received, largely from the County of San Diego, and feel deeply that I have a debt to be repaid to help more San Diegans lead a life of dignity and opportunity.

We released our Hope4Homeless plan as a recognition that the County can and must do more to focus on systems for reducing homelessness and must take on a bigger leadership role. It is a big part of why I am running for the Board of Supervisors and I intend to drive that leadership if elected.

Running for ALL San Diegans: Labor leaders do not owe me anything

Running for ALL San Diegans: Labor leaders do not owe me anything

I received a note Friday night that the Labor Council – an umbrella organization made up of the leadership of over 100 affiliated unions in San Diego and Imperial Counties – decided to only invite one candidate in the race for County Supervisor to be considered for endorsement.  I’d like to go to every organization that represents San Diegans, regardless of party affiliation or ideology.  My policy positions and actions are shaped by my values and by listening to voters, so their representatives should have audience – if those leaders want one.  In the case of the leadership of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Labor Council, it appears they did not want to hear me out or learn what I stand for.

Here’s the thing, though, that is completely their right to elect not to invite me in. They don’t owe me a thing. Let me explain.

It is my job to try to work with everyone, to be fair, and to be open-minded.  It is the Labor Council’s job to represent their members as they see fit and to take or reject anything I say as they choose. I am a supporter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) San Diego chapter, for example. This is a group of primarily African American members of the United Domestic Workers Association, the labor union that represents in-home healthcare workers.  My campaign manager and I went to their most recent general meeting on the 18th of this month. We went even though the leadership already decided to publicly support another candidate.  We went because the issues in-home healthcare workers face are not less important because they endorsed someone else.  We went because my values drive my actions.

The plumbers and hotel workers and caregivers and sheet metal workers and federal government employees and many others who are members of those unions deserve candidates who will fight for a better region for every San Diegan. That is what I’m doing.  They will all benefit if we implement the tenets of our StrongStarts4All plan with things like affordable quality child care and after school support. They will all benefit from our campaign’s attention to making housing more affordable with an approach that recognizes, as our Housing4All plan does, we must have market and subsidized solutions.

I am grateful for the opportunity to fight for every San Diegan. I would prefer the chance to have an earnest dialogue with every constituent, but I do recognize that no group owes me the right to that dialogue.  We will just keep working hard and fighting for what we believe in.  Thanks for reading!

Building a strong campaign: Perspiration and persistence

The numbers are in. My campaign connected with over 16,000 individual likely voters between June and December last year. This included nearly 300 1-on-1 in person meetings and 174 community meetings.  To put those numbers in perspective, that’s nearly 7 community meetings per week. For anyone who has attended a planning group or town council or neighborhood meeting, you can appreciate how much time, effort, and time away from family that is.

My team knocked on doors and attended community meetings and made phone calls.  As a candidate, I personally knocked on the doors of thousands of San Diegans.  I went to community picnics, houses of worship, children’s play groups, craft breweries, schools, union general membership meetings, business networking events and any other place people would have me.

Every action I took was based on one fundamental belief: I believe candidates should earn your votes with hard work, substance behind the positions we take, and the courage of real leadership.

Running for office is hard work, especially in today’s climate.  Sandwiched around all of our critical voter outreach work was a daily push to raise the funds necessary to actually run a political campaign for a major office.  That means sitting down and calling friends, colleagues, family and others in our community and asking them to help me be a champion for the 263,000 children under the age of five in San Diego County and the 240,000 seniors who cannot pay their basic necessities of life. I am not a career politician and I still remember making my first political donation. My wife and I really didn’t understand how important the donations were to the campaign process but we knew that there was no guarantee our preferred candidate would win. Now that I am calling and meeting with hundreds of people to have the same conversation, I have to be persistent and keep asking to get the support we need to reach our voter target on June 5th. The money helps us raise name identification, contact voters, and be sure we do all of it while paying campaign staff a legally permissible and livable wage.

With the election just under six months away, we have a ton of work to do and welcome everyone to join our volunteer outreach efforts. Join us in believing that elections aren’t pre-ordained by insiders with political connections. Join us in believing that hard work, passion, and relevant professional experience matter in who we elect. We are fighting for every San Diegan and look forward to continuing to work hard moving forward. Thanks for reading!

Episode 1: [Introduction] From foster care to attorney – luck, love, and the law

Episode 1: [Introduction] From foster care to attorney – luck, love, and the law

(Click Play Button Below to Listen to Episode 1 – 16:24 minutes)

Click to view in iTunes

Episode Summary

The miracle of modern medicine means that a child born 10 weeks premature today in America has an incredibly strong chance of survival. In 1975, when I was born 10 weeks premature (at 2 pounds, 8 ounces), the chances were not so high.  It didn’t help that I was born to a mother with a disability and mental illness, who grew up poor in the segregated south, and lost her own mother at age four.

What saved me was the love of an incredible couple named Tom and Phyllis Passons, my foster parents (who later adopted me), the support of the San Diego County child welfare system, hard work and a bit of luck.  In this first episode of my podcast series I open up a little about what life was like having over 100 foster siblings.  I talk about how I ended up getting a Master’s Degree in Public Health – public health and human services is almost 40% of the County of San Diego budget – and then found my way to a legal career in a subject, land use, that is a major part of the County’s responsibilities.

From being inspired by my biological mother’s own bouts with homelessness on San Diego’s streets to being deeply committed to fighting for every child to have a strong start in life, this first episode helps explain who I am. It also explains why I’d leave the law and seek to improve the lives of millions of San Diego County residents.