Congressman Scott Peters, and Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez headline the panel

scott-peters      lorena-gonzalez

Election Series Continues with Immigration Panel

“Building Bridges, Not Barriers”


After two straight packed houses for our STARK CONTRASTS meetings examining the differences this election year between the Democratic Candidates and their republican counterparts, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club turns again to Star Power to serve on our panel of experts. Congressman Scott Peters, and Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez headline the panel which will also feature ACLU immigration experts and a member of the SDSU Chicana/Chicano Studies department.


Just as our last panel gave us a variety of opinions and experiences in the area of gender politics and the parties’ respective platforms, this October 5th panel will focus on Trump’s Build-a-Wall agenda and the local politicos who support him, in contrast to the Democrat’s long standing call for a compassionate immigration policy that recognizes the contributions and rights of the tens of thousands of immigrant families that call San Diego, Southern California, and nearly all of America, home.


La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at the beautiful La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Avenue. We represent the communities of San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Santee, Casa de Oro, and other close by East County enclaves. Our meetings start with a ½ hour social time at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages, followed by our 90 minute program at 7 PM. We welcome all fellow progressives and forward thinkers to attend and participate in our meetings. ½ price memberships are available for the rest of the year.


Congressman Scott Peters serves California’s 52nd Congressional District, which includes the cities of Coronado, Poway and most of northern San Diego. First elected in 2012, he currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee & the House Judiciary Committee. He formerly served on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Scott Peters is a civic leader who has made improving the quality of life in San Diego his life’s work. After a 15-year career as an environmental lawyer, Scott was elected to the San Diego City Council, where he later became the City’s first City Council President. On the Council, Scott helped lead the $2 billion redevelopment of downtown San Diego, the cleanup of the city’s beaches and bays, and the completion of a number of major infrastructure projects. He also pursued greater accountability and efficiency in government through the creation of a new Council/Mayor form of government with an independent budget review function.

In 2001, the governor appointed Scott to the Commission on Tax Policy in the New Economy, and in 2002, the Speaker of the Assembly appointed Scott to the California Coastal Commission.

Scott also later served as chairman of the San Diego Unified Port District – a major economic engine that supports over 40,000 high-skill, high-wage jobs for San Diegans, with $3.3 billion in direct regional economic impact.

Scott earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and worked as an economist for the United States Environmental Protection Agency before attending New York University School of Law. He and his wife of 29 years reside in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, where they raised their son and daughter.

Lorena Gonzalez is the daughter of an immigrant farmworker and a nurse. She attended public schools in San Diego County before earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law.

Gonzalez served as Senior Adviser to former California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, as well as appointee to the California State Lands Commission and alternate on the California Coastal Commission. A community organizer and activist, Gonzalez was elected in 2008 as CEO and Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO. She is the first woman and person of color to be elected to head the Labor Council since the organization was founded in 1891.

Gonzalez ran for San Diego City Council during a 2005 special election and advanced to a runoff against future San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. However, Gonzalez ultimately lost the race to Faulconer by a margin of 724 votes out of 29,448 cast.

Gonzalez was elected to California’s 80th State Assembly district in a special election held May 21, 2013. She defeated former Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Castaneda with 70.75% of the vote. Gonzalez currently serves on the Assembly Committee on Education, the Assembly Committee on Health, the Assembly Committee on Insurance, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife; and the Assembly Committee on Rules. She is also the first Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. Lorena Gonzalez lives in San Diego with her two children, Tierra and Antonio.

THIS JUST IN: SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez made Politico Magazine’s 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016” list. According to the magazine, “Gonzalez might be the nation’s most ambitious progressive scientist.” Since 2013, Gonzalez has represented the 80th district, which includes much of southern San Diego and is the southernmost district in the state.

Politico calls Gonzalez “the brain trust for California’s most ambitious policy ideas,” citing her authorship of California’s automatic voter registration law, her co-authoring of the state’s $15 an hour minimum wage law, sponsorship of the law requiring student vaccination and her efforts to close the gender pay gap. However, the magazine states that “it’s Gonzalez’s trailblazing advocacy for mandatory paid sick leave that could make the biggest differencenationwide. In 2014, she wrote a law requiring every private-sector employer in California to provide paid sick days to employees—the first such state or federal law in U.S. history.”

Be sure to visit our booth at La Mesa’s Octoberfest on Sept. 30th, Oct. 1st and 2nd. More details available on our website and please like us on our fabulous Facebook page. Hope to see you at our next meeting on Wednesday, October 5th! More info:


Moderator-Brian Adams

Brian Adams joined the political science department at SDSU in 2003 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Brian’s research explores why local governments do not live up to their democratic potential. As small jurisdictions, localities should be “closer to the people,” allowing for more extensive citizen participation and greater accountability. Yet participation in local government is dismally low, and local officials are often unresponsive to citizen demands. Local governments, rather than being hotbeds of democratic activity are often corrupt and unresponsive entities dominated by elites. What accounts for this pattern?

Brian’s research approaches this question from a few different angles. First, he has analyzed non-electoral participation in local politics in an effort to assess how citizens participate. His 2007 book Citizen Lobbyists found that citizens take advantage of the many opportunities they have to participate and benefit from their participation in terms of promoting favorable policy and acquiring knowledge about the policy process. But given the manner in which they participate and the issues they choose to influence there is little benefit to the political system as a whole. He has also done research on how citizens discuss policy issues, finding that they offer evidence to support their claims but usually neglect to tie evidence and conclusions together in coherent arguments. They also avoid working through disagreements, preferring to deflect or simply ignore opposing viewpoints. Deliberative conversations among citizens typically comprise of strings of conclusions and evidence without much coherence or back-and-forth exchange.

A second strand of Brian’s research has examined local elections as a democratic practice. His book Campaign Finance in Local Elections: Buying the Grassroots examines whether the campaign finance system undermines the capacity of local elections to enhance the democratic character of American elections more generally. As the smallest units in the American political system, localities have the potential to contribute to democratic practices by fostering accessibility to the political system, promoting competitiveness, and reducing the biases seen in state and national elections. Yet the manner in which local candidates raise and spend campaign funds undermines these goals. He is currently working on an article that explores whether voters use a candidate’s occupation, which is listed on the ballot in California, to make decisions in low-information local races.

The final line of research focuses on conceptualizing the relative benefits of local governance. In a recent article (“Assessing the Merits of Decentralization: A Framework for Identifying the Causal Mechanisms Influencing Policy Outcomes”) Brian developed a new theoretical framework that explicates the causal mechanisms through which decentralization (moving policy authority from central governments to local ones) alters the motivations and behavior of government officials. He is currently working on a research project that explores the problem of scale for participatory and deliberative democratic theory, asking whether these theories, which are best suited for small governmental jurisdictions, can be relevant in a world dominated by large governments and global issues.

In addition to research and teaching courses at SDSU, Brian has done two stints of teaching overseas. In 2009, he spent six months at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea on a Faculty Fulbright grant, teaching American Politics to Korean students and researching Korean local government, For the 2011-12 academic year he taught at the Hopkins-Nanjing center in Nanjing, China, teaching courses on democracy and American politics to Chinese master’s students.


Panelist-Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s US/Mexico Border Program

San Diego Program Director

Areas of Expertise:

Immigration | US/Mexico Border

Pedro Rios serves as director of the AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program and has been on staff with AFSC for 13 years. He is also chairperson for the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, a coalition of over 25 different organizations in San Diego working to support the rights of immigrants.

A native San Diegan, Pedro has worked on immigrant rights and border issues for over 20 years. He became active on immigration issues in the early 1990s, when California was debating the passage of Proposition 187, the anti-immigrant initiative that was later ruled unconstitutional.

Currently, Pedro is overseeing a program that documents abuses by law enforcement agencies, working with many community groups, advocating for policy change, and interacting with migrant communities. Pedro has been widely interviewed and published by the Associated Press, Univision, ABC10, NBC7, and  Think Progress, among others.


Panelist- Isidro Ortiz, Ph.D. Professor SDSU
Areas of Research: Community organization, educational reform, Chicana and Chicano politics, political movements, educational practice, policy and reform, college student retention, engagement and success; origins and persistence of Chicano nationalism and relationship to oppression.


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