Mara Elliott: City Attorney Candidate
How have you demonstrated your commitment to racial justice?
I have leveled the playing field in City contracting by enforcing our nondiscrimination in contracting provision and improving policies that encourage minority businesses to do work with the city. I have also recruited and hired persons of color to ensure diversity in our office. Finally, I have reached out to local minority bar associations to open communications.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges San Diego faces to achieving racial equity?
All races are entitled to an equal and appropriate education. Government should work closely with communities to build trust and to learn about issues important to those communities. We need more diversity programs; the workforce should better represent its surroundings. Law enforcement needs appropriate training and to build relationships with the communities they serve.
Check all of the boxes that describe your perspective about race.
“Race is a social construction.”
“I am colorblind.”
“Institutional racism means that people who are not explicitly racist can support and benefit from racial oppression.”
✅ “White people of all income-levels benefit from privileges bestowed upon them historically and in the current day.”
“We live in a post-racial society. Anyone can thrive if they work hard enough.”
✅ “We live in a country where race impacts one’s educational and employment opportunities.”
✅ “Racism continues to be a problem in today’s world.”
✅ “White people have a responsibility to work for racial justice.”
✅ “I am well-informed about the United States’ history as it relates to race and racial inequality.”
The limitations of the public transit system in San Diego mean that low-income workers face obstacles getting to work and pursuing certain employment opportunities. How should San Diego expand and support its public transit system? What role will you play, if any?
I wholeheartedly support a public investment in transit for the reasons mentioned in the question. I was Deputy General Counsel at MTDB because it reflected my values: I wanted to ensure all had access to transit. I will work closely with sister transit agencies to ensure services are made available to all San Diegans who wish to take advantage of them.
Clean, drinkable water should be available to all households, regardless of income level. What should San Diego do to make drinking water more affordable for low-income families? What role will you play, if any?
I support the Pure Water program and will allocate legal resources to ensure the program is legally and appropriately implemented. This program will reduce our reliance on external water resources, thus lowering the cost of water. I will also commit to exploring low cost options available to low income families.
How can San Diego raise employment rates among communities of color in San Diego? What role will you play, if any?
San Diego companies can offer diversity training, hire diverse employees, publicize employee racial statistics, and create programs to encourage minority companies to apply for City of San Diego contracts. I will implement all of these programs in my office.
What should San Diego do to ensure communities of color are safe while reducing the disproportionate police presence and contact in their neighborhoods? What role will you play, if any?
Police officers need sensitivity, bias, and other training. Police officers should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. When reviewing cases for prosecution, we need to ensure that the cases are not based on prohibited grounds. Our office will be available to train. We will have deputies in the field monitoring community and law enforcement relations.
How should San Diego ensure that children of color receive a high quality education that affords them the same post-secondary opportunities as white children? What role will you play, if any?
Schools need to ensure that all children have the same opportunities at school. I support breakfast and lunch at no cost to those who are unable to pay. I also support free transportation to those who are unable to get to school. Tutoring and other appropriate assistance should be available. I will partner with schools to keep kids safe and educated about dangers like sex trafficking, gangs, and other dangers.
What should San Diego do to support students of color, as well as immigrant and refugee students, in finding employment and high-wage jobs? What role will you play, if any?
I believe schools, government, and business should partner to create career academies while kids are still in school. This provides a real world opportunities, creates relationships, and motivates kids to achieve. Our office would offer opportunities for kids through internships.
What does San Diego need to do to better support its bilingual/multilingual communities? What role will you play, if any?
San Diego needs robust ESL programs. My mother struggled with English when she came to the states, so I am sympathetic to the challenges this poses. I intend to institute a bilingual hotline to report wage theft to our office. I will also seek ways we can better communicate about City services with those who are not proficient in English.
What should San Diego do to ensure that low-income communities of color have affordable housing? How can San Diego support development without pricing out low-income families? What role will you play, if any?
I believe the City should offer incentives to landlords to encourage affordable housing. This could be tax rebates or streamlined permitting. I also think the City needs to tackle short term vacation rentals, which are pricing people our of the housing market. Finally, we need to more effectively incentivize developers to build more affordable housing. I will keep apprised of new tools that help us achieve those goals.
The legitimacy of the police is undermined within communities of color because of racial profiling in police stops, police shootings of people of color, and racially disproportionate police contact. What should San Diego do to rebuild trust in San Diego’s police? What role will you play, if any?
Law enforcement needs to work directly with communities to understand their concerns, fears, cultures, and differences. They also need sensitivity and bias training. I intend to assign neighborhood prosecutors to work from each police division to ensure that law enforcement and our communities have the support they need from our office. I will also have deputies attend community meetings to stay apprised of community concerns and needs.
What is your stance on the Black Lives Matter Movement?
It’s an important movement that has changes America’s conversation. It’s based on racism, slavery, and serious issues in the black community. We need to work harder to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. We need to increase transparency, and make sure that all are represented. Law enforcement needs to rebuild trust in communities.
What is your stance on San Diego’s use of Proposition 21 (Section 182.5) and the San Diego 33?
I’m skeptical that treating a child like an adult increases public safety or reforms the child.
What role should San Diego play in the current refugee crisis?
✅ A) San Diego should be a haven for refugees from Syria and elsewhere fleeing violence and economic hardship.
B) San Diego should not actively welcome refugees from Syria and elsewhere.
C) Other :
Any Additional Comments?
Thank you for the opportunity to participate.