Sarah Saez: District 9 City Council Candidate
How have you demonstrated your commitment to racial justice?
Prior to running for office I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Critical Criminology which is the sociological study of social issues such as our prison industrial complex and the fact that even though people of color make up 30% of the population, we account for 60% of the prison population in the united states. I am an outspoken advocate for recognizing the historical, institutional and societal barriers that people of color and formerly incarcerated individuals have to pursuing fully successful lives both before and after they are incarcerated because of a system that is based both in racism and class bias. Some of the criminal justice reform measures that I support and which the city council is able to affect is a fully transparent citizens review board on police practices and a return to community policing and restorative justice. Racial justice is a central part of my campaign platform. When we speak about San Diego being Affordable, Safe and Green, we’re talking about making San Diego safe for everyone including being safe from racial profiling. This is a serious concern in our communities and does not help in regard to building trust with law enforcement. While other candidates in this race shy away from speaking out, I am the only candidate who is addressing this by unapologetically affirming that Black Lives Matter regardless of whether I’m in City Heights or Kensington and I have put forward policy recommendations including the need to diversify our police force, eliminating the disproportionate amount of African Americans who are pulled over, arrested, incarcerated and killed while unarmed by police. This is a difficult conversation to have and I have been criticized for my stance on it, and have lost endorsements because of it, but we have to continue to point to the data and make a change. I am not anti police, I am anti police brutality and believe that criminal justice reform, along with creating opportunities and removing barriers, is a central part of achieving racial justice.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges San Diego faces to achieving racial equity?
The first challenge is acknowledgement. We have to acknowledge that we have a problem in regard to racial equity. For example, in District 9, we have a voter power gap that is broken down on racial lines. Despite the fact the the District was redistricted to a Latino majority district or the fact that City Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country with over 80 different dialects spoken, a majority of the votes come from more affluent and white voters in Kensington. Kensington’s voter turnout is 70% while Teralta Park on the other side of El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights has a voter turnout of 27% which has dipped down to 14% during some elections. The medium income in Kensington is $90,565. Teralta’s is $21,698. 66% of the residents in Kensington are white and in Teralta only 6 percent are white. Additionally 47% of people in Teralta are foreign born while only 12% in Kensington are. When we ignore the fact that these disparities exist we can not begin to fix them. If we continue to politically disenfranchise voters, depriving them of their voice, we won’t have change. Just like district 9, San Diego as a whole is more diverse than is reflected in our power structure. While San Diego’s population consists of 52% people of color, only 23% of San Diego elected officials are people of color. We have to ensure that our diverse voices are being heard. We have to ensure that we are involved in the process. We have to remove as many barriers as possible so that we can even engage in the first place. For example we must provide a living wage for all workers. We must stop criminalizing being poor and fix our broken criminal justice system. These are the things that I have and will continue to dedicate my life to.
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?
Ensuring better public transportation is another point on my platform. Inadequate public transportation means more unpaid time that workers have to spend going to and from work, including our youth. Public transportation has historically discriminated against not just the working poor but people of color. San Diego should support its public transit system by funding expansion. We also needs to fund things like free youth opportunity passes for low income students to get to and from school and work. I am proud to have supported this initiative as a resident and as a board member of Mid-City CAN who made it possible. Unfortunately we have to fight for funding year after year until the City, SANDAG and MTS choose to prioritize it as part of our transportation program in San Diego. We can spend millions of dollars for tourists to take a free shuttle downtown but not for low income students to better their lives. I will continue to fight alongside our communities for transportation justice.
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?
We need to offer lower rates like SDG&E does with their electricity. We need to ensure that there are more ways for families to reuse and conserve water like fitting apartments and houses with grey water systems. I will be a strong advocate for affordable drinking water as drinkable water is a human right!
How can San Diego raise employment rates among communities of color in San Diego? What role will you play, if any?
I would ensure that we have a City wide Project Labor Agreement that will guarantee local hire. Right now we outsource our infrastructure repairs and new development to people from Los Angeles, Arizona and other places. We have to make sure that this work stays within our communities and that people have the opportunity to access our union apprenticeship programs. We also have to guarantee diversity in hiring. As a leader in the labor movement, this is something I have dedicated my life to. I will continue to play a strong role in advocating for economic justice for our communities and it is a key pillar of my platform.
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?
We need a truly independent review board on police practices. We need to continue to collect data on the demographics of those who are pulled over, arrested or killed by police. We have to increase diversity in hiring. We have to restore community policing to build trust through transparency. ALL of this is in my platform and what I want to work alongside the community in achieving.
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?
We have to make sure that we improve our schools in communities of color. We have to make sure that they are being taught by people that are from their communities. We have to provide living wage jobs for their parents so that they have time to spend with their children to complete homework. We have to ensure that our schools have the resources they need including teachers who are able to form a union and bargain for better wages and benefits. I will advocate for all of these things through our education systems boards and community forums. I will engage with the schools in my district to ensure that our young people have every opportunity to succeed!
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?
We should help them enter union apprenticeship programs. We should ensure that the jobs that exist or are added to our neighborhoods are ones that pay a living wage. I will set up an office in the district that will have resources like resume building and offer internships with my office directly.
What does San Diego need to do to better support its bilingual/multilingual communities? What role will you play, if any?
We need to make sure that we hire people from the community in every position we can who speak the languages that our community members do. From the City to clinics to schools. We have to make sure that our communities are reflected in the services that they pay for and are their right.
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?
We need to build more affordable housing. We need to implement rent control or rent stabilization to cap outrageous rent hikes. Density for density sake does not create affordable housing. I will advocate for it. That’s why these solutions have been part of my platform since the very beginning.
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?
I want to reference the earlier question in regard to this. We need to build trust through transparency. Independent review board on police practices. Collect demographic data. Hire diverse police force. Restore funding for community policing. Require all body cameras to be on. Release videos of police shootings and encounters as soon as possible. This is all on my platform. I will organize alongside the community and our police force to ensure trust is rebuilt.
What is your stance on the Black Lives Matter Movement?
I support it 100%. Again, it is part of my platform. I have been to numerous rallies and have spoken out publicly in support every single time I speak. I just spoke about it last night in Rancho Santa Fe in a room full of 99% white attendees. I will continue to be a strong advocate and voice for everything the Black Lives Matter Movement stands for.
What is your stance on San Diego’s use of Proposition 21 (Section 182.5) and the San Diego 33?
I support the San Diego 33 and have been to meetings and rallies to support them! I have donated to help a member who is still incarcerated. I have spoken out against 182.5, the lynch code and Bonnie Dumanis for being a proponent of it. It is a racist proposition and has to absolutely be eliminated. I support all of the members of the San Diego 33 and the countless other who have been impacted by it.
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.
Any Additional Comments?
Thank you! If you want to support our campaign visit http://www.votesaez.org to either donate or volunteer. My positions on racial justice are not politically popular but we have to move the conversation forward. I have dedicated my education, life and career to racial justice and will continue to. Thank you! In Solidarity, Sarah