Lorena Gonzalez Wins Assembly and Myrtle Cole Wins City Council Seats

by on May 22, 2013 · 2 comments

in Economy, Education, Election, Labor, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

Mrytle Cole First African-American Woman Elected to San Diego City Council, School Board Member Richard Barrera to Head Labor Council

By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

Lorena Gonzalez

Lorena Gonzales – just elected to State Assembly.

The results are in for the last of a series of elections triggered by Bob Filner’s decision to run for Mayor of San Diego. Labor leader Lorena Gonzalez displayed her mastery of the political process, pulling together a massive canvassing campaign that gave her an overwhelming 70% of the vote and a seat in the State Assembly.

For those of you keeping track, Filner moved from the US House of Representatives to Mayor of San Diego, Juan Vargas moved from State Senate to fill Filner’s seat, Ben Hueso moved from State Assembly to State Senate.

Mrytle Cole

Mrytle Cole – first African-American woman ever elected to the San Diego City Council.

In the slime-filled race for San Diego’s 4th District City Council seat, Myrtle Cole triumphed over Dwayne Crenshaw with 53% of the vote. Although both Cole & Crenshaw were both Democrats and similar in outlook, the contest turned into a shadow boxing match, with the organized labor and downtown business interests funding increasingly nasty direct mail campaigns.

The really big news coming out of last night’s contests was the disclosure that San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera will be taking over the helm at the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The Labor Council is a coalition of 135 local unions representing more than 200,000 working families in the area that has played an ever increasing role in local politics.

Richard Barrera

Richard Barrera will be moving from the School Board to the Labor Council.

Many observers credit their aggressive door-to-door efforts in recent elections with providing the margin of victory needed to win by Democratic candidates in closely contested elections locally. And it is certainly true that organized labor has played a more prominent role in local politics, moving from being a behind-the-scenes player to exhibiting a willingness to involve their resources in efforts outside the normal realm of unions.

Based on my observations over the past few years, Lorena Gonzalez deserves a lot of the credit for giving what been cast as a stereotypically stodgy organization a literal and figurative facelift. In almost any other situation I’d be looking at last night’s election results with some degree of sadness, knowing that progressives in San Diego were losing a valuable ally.

Richard Barrera’s ascension to the top spot in local labor, however, points to more, not less, activism from organized labor. His work as an organizer for the Nurse’s union isn’t as well known as his role as a defender of quality public education, but it should be.

I had Barrera as an instructor for a college mediation class and worked with him on education issues as a parent involved with the Educate for the Future group, so yes, I’m biased. He has a solid grasp of the Big Picture in US politics and a predisposition to being supportive of progressive activism.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman May 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

And so now what? Another special election, this time for the School Board seat that Barrera was re-elected to last November and for which there was no other candidate?

And this raise in pay-grade comes one week after Barrera cast a deciding 4th vote to sell off SDUSD’s Mission Beach Elementary property for private development?

Is this what constitutes a “grasp of the Big Picture inUS politics” and “progressive activism?” It looks like self-serving business-as-usual to me.


Milton Gale May 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm

In regard to the 80th Assembly District election, I told several people that Lorena would win at least 60% of the vote unless she made a big campaign mistake. She did not make even any LITTLE campaign mistakes !!


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