March meeting: Women’s health and reproductive justice, Assembly Member Akilah Weber, and county Democratic Party chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy

Join us for what’s sure to be an excellent general meeting Wednesday, March 2, when we’ll hear from an array of local Diego leaders on women’s health and reproductive freedom.

Also, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, will discuss redistricting and provide updates on the state of the party.

Kicking off our Women’s History Month programming, we’ll hear from Assembly Member Akilah Weber, who represents La Mesa and the surrounding 79th District (and is a former member of the club board). For Dr. Weber, women’s health and reproductive freedom isn’t just a political matter—she’s a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist.

We’ll also hear from other leaders and experts on women’s health and reproductive rights, in a discussion moderated by club member Carol Perkins, Ph.D., a former professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University and other colleges, who is also active on local community associations.

Dr. Perkins will be joined by Anna Heinz, a nurse practitioner at Palomar Medical Center in the labor and delivery department, with experience in prenatal and women’s health, including working with Planned Parenthood.

We expect to have more great speakers as well. So don’t miss out—be there on Zoom, Wednesday, March 2, 7 pm, or come at 6:30 pm for a half-hour of unstructured social talk. Here’s the link: Zoom

Hopefully this will be our last Zoom meeting for some time. We’re looking forward to seeing all of you again in person—mark your calendars for Wednesday, April 6, 7 pm, with 6:30 pm unstructured social time, at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive in La Mesa.

Watch the video of our February meeting with Shirley Weber, Nathan Fletcher, and a panel on racial justice

Our February meeting features Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State; Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, and a panel on racial justice. Watch now!

Dr. Weber—who formerly represented our community as Assembly member for the 79th District—talked about her work protecting free and fair elections, and preserving and expanding voter rights here in California and the rest of the country.

Dr. Weber also discussed California’s proposed slavery reparations bill, which she has championed.

Chair Fletcher, who represents our community following the recent redistricting, talked about the importance of retaining the recently won Democratic Party majority on the Board of Supervisors. With a 3-2 majority, every election counts. Fletcher faces re-election this year, and already faces opposition from an anti-science conservative extremist. He asked members to work on his campaign. If Republicans can regain control of the board, they’ll undo protections for women’s rights, racial justice, and other issues that Democrats have fought hard for.

Board members Sharon Cox talked about the fight to stop the disastrous Cottonwood Sand Mine project. Get more information at stopcottonwoodsandmine.com.

Board member Brenda Miller led our panel discussion on racial justice, which featured Kenya Taylor, a Democratic Party leader and licensed marriage and family therapist, Rev. Shane Harris, president and founder of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates; and Katie Lais, of the University of San Diego.

We also had several announcements and bulletins from leaders of the San Diego Democratic community.

Join us for our March 2 meeting, on reproductive freedom and other women’s issues, for Women’s History Month. The meeting is 7 pm, with unstructured social conversation starting at 6:30 pm, on Zoom. Here’s the Zoom URL.

February meeting: Shirley Weber — Nathan Fletcher — racial justice panel discussion

Join us for our general meeting Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the evening, when we’ll hear from Dr. Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State and former State Assembly representative for La Mesa, as well as Nathan Fletcher, chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors and representative for the county Fourth District, which includes La Mesa.

We’ll also have a panel discussion on racial justice, featuring Kenya Taylor, a Democratic Party leader and licensed marriage and family therapist; Jim Miller, a journalist, writer and professor at San Diego City College; Rev. Shane Harris, president and founder of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates; and Katie Lais, of the University of San Diego.

Some topics for the panel: Is racial justice increasing or decreasing over recent years? Are we becoming more just as a society, or less, in our local community, San Diego, the state, and nation? What is San Diego doing to increase racial justice? What should we be doing? And more!

Join us at the usual time and place—7 pm Wednesday, Feb. 2 (and the first Wednesday of every month) on Zoom. Here’s the Zoom URL. And feel free to drop by a half-hour early, at 6:30 pm, for unstructured conversation.

Watch the video of our January meeting on redistricting and infrastructure

Watch the video of our January, 2022 meeting to find out more about what redistricting means for Democrats on the local level, in La Mesa, surrounding communities, and San Diego. Also, learn what the $1.2 trillian Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will mean locally.

Our speakers:

  • Richard Merritt, campaign manager for US Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-San Diego).
  • Walter Bishop, Strategic Advisor for Federal Affairs for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
  • Colin Parent, La Mesa City Council member and executive director and general counsel for the mobility and land use organization Circulate San Diego
  • Raul Campillo, San Diego City Council member representing District 7
  • Phil Trom, Principal Regionall Planner for the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)
  • Victoria Stackwick, director of government relations, SANDAG.

We started the meeting with board elections and swearing in of board members, followed by a club budget report, and call to action to stop the Cottonwood Sand Mine. Then we turned to redistricting, and what the new lines on the map need to local Democrats. On infrastructure, we heard an overview from our SANDAG representatives, asked each speaker what the new federal and county plans mean to their constituents, and learned about highlights and what’s missing, in transportation, clean water, wastewater, and more.

We concluded the meeting by hearing from local leaders on matters of importance to our community.

Join us infor our next general meeting, Feb. 2, when the topics will be appropriate to Black History Month. The meeting will be 7 pm PT on Zoom. And you can join us early for casual conversation starting at 6:30 pm.

January meeting — the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — Redistricting

Join us for a stellar line-up of experts to discuss the local impact of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as redistricting, which effects elective offices at the federal and local level.

Our spectacular panel of guest speakers are:

First, find out more about what district you’re in for federal and local offices following the recently adopted redistricting. If you find yourself in a district with a representative you don’t like, think of this as an opportunity to make change for yourself and your neighbors.

And then we’ll talk about the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and what the plan will mean to San Diego, California, and the country.

We’re meeting on Zoom, 7 pm Wednesday, Jan. 5, with the usual informal open discussion starting 6:30 pm. We had planned to meet in person, but the Covid surge makes that unwise.

Join us on Zoom

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act “will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed Internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.” The legislation also eases “inflationary pressures and strengthens supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail and roads.” (Source: “Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” at Whitehouse.gov. This document is a great overview of what’s in the bill, and it’s a fast read too.)

The legislation “will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years,” according to the White House fact sheet.

California gets $45.5 billion — the largest share of any state. But that’s actually relatively small given the size of the state, just over $1,200 per Californian, one of the lowest rates of any state. States with relatively small populations, such as Alaska and Vermont, get bigger benefits on a per-resident basis. (Source: “California gets small share of infrastructure bill,” CalMatters)

Two thirds of California’s share, about $30 billion over five years, goes to road, highway, and bridge repairs. That’s a big deal because our roads are in bad shape, rating at or near the bottom of other states.

Another $9.45 billion over five years goes to improving public transportation statewide.

The remainder of California’s share would mostly be spent on improvements to water systems ($3.5 billion), airports ($1.5 billion), aid for high-speed Internet to Californians ($100 million for 545,000+ Californians), and more. (Source: “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will Deliver for California,” at Whitehouse.gov provides a more detailed overview of California spending. )

This is legislation Democrats can be proud of. Despite the current struggles getting Build Back Better passed, the infrastructure bill demonstrates Democrats are working hard to make lives better for Americans, while Republicans are making America worse. Indeed, all of San Diego’s Congressional representatives save the lone Republican voted for the bill.

Join us for our holiday meeting—live and in person—featuring live music and live people!

We’re delighted to return Dec. 1 for our first in-person meeting in nearly two years—our annual holiday party, back home at the La Mesa Community Center. We’ll feature live music, food, a charity donation drive and the opportunity to see each other in person and even hug.

Music will be provided by the Joseph Luna Quartet, a local jazz combo. To get a taste of the great entertainment in store, check them out on YouTube , where they have a big selection of great performances. Go to their holiday playlist to get in the mood. Big nerd that I am, I skipped the holiday playlist and went straight for their riff of the “Game of Thrones” theme, which is a delightful surprise. (It’s on their Latin Jazz playlist because yeah I guess Westeros is in Latin America? Sure, why not?)

As is traditional for our holiday events, we’re doing a non-perishable food drive, that means canned fruits, vegetables and soups, ramen, instant mac and cheese, pasta, packaged baked goods, cereals, and other shelf-stable food. Our donation coordinator is also looking for socks, to be given to the homeless. The drive this year benefits clients of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in San Diego.

We’ll also accept donations to help defray the cost of the band and the extra goodies we’ll provide for our feast.

Attendees at the meeting will be required to mask, when not eating—oh, yes, there will be food, a potluck, so bring your favorite dish to share, if you are able.

You’ll also need to show proof of vaccination at the door.

The meeting starts at 6 pm Wednesday, Dec. 1, at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, La Mesa, CA 91942. We’re excited to see all of you in real life, not just through a screen!

To review: Here’s a checklist of what you need to know and do to get ready (because nothing is simple in the 2020s):

  • You’ll need to show proof of vaccination at the door. It’s fine if that’s a vaccine card, photocopy of the card, or photo of the card in your phone.
  • You’ll need to wear a mask at all times when not actually eating and drinking.
  • Bring a cash donation to help pay the band.
  • We’ll serve a potluck buffet. The club will provide some of the food, and your donation will go to pay for that, too.
  • Additionally, we’re asking members to bring food.
    • If your last name starts A-H, bring an appetizer.
    • I-M, salad or vegetable.
    • N-Z, dessert.
  • Please also bring donations, to help clients of St. Vincent de Paul in San Diego. Donations can be:
    • Non-perishable foods: canned fruits, vegetables and soups, ramen, instant mac and cheese, pasta, packaged baked goods, cereals, and other shelf-stable food.
    • Also, socks, to be given to the homeless.

Also: now is a good time to pay your dues, if you haven’t done so already, and make an additional donation, if you can. You can do it in person at the meeting, or if you’d rather just get it done now, go here.

Your donations help fund events—like our holiday party—and help us help Democrats get elected to enact progressive policies.

We won’t be streaming this one on the Internet, out of respect for our musical entertainment. However, we do plan to resume streaming with our January meeting, which we also plan to have in person at the Community Center.

Watch the video of our November meeting: Why are some Latinos leaving the Democratic Party?

Watch a star-studded panel of local leaders discussing why some Latinos are leaving the Democratic Party, and what do we need to do about that. The panel features some of the best political minds in San Diego County, who are also leading representatives of the Latino community:

  • Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party
  • San Diego City Council member Sean Elo-Rivera
  • Rafael Castellanos, business and real estate attorney, chair of the Port of San Diego, and member of several community organizations
  • Jesus Cardenas, chief of staff to San Diego City Council member Stephen Whitburn, and longtime top consultant to winning Democratic Party campaigns.

But first: Get analysis of results from this month’s local election at the La Mesa City Council, where two Democrats were defeated by the Republican. This was previously a Democratic seat, vacated by Akilah Weber when she joined the State Assembly. Colin Parent, the senior Democrat on the city council, takes a couple of minutes to talk about what happened there, and what we should learn.

Additionally, the panel provides perspective on the nationwide elections. It was a bad day for Democrats across the country.

Following the panel discussion, we tend to some club business, welcoming new members to the board. And then the usual open mic time, when county leaders speak to the club.

And join us for our next meeting Dec. 1, at the La Mesa Community Center, for a holiday party with live entertainment, and our first in-person meetup since early March 2020. We hope to see you there—really see you!

Meeting Wednesday: Are Latinos leaving the Democratic Party?

Join us for our next general meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 7 pm, when we will talk with local Latino leaders about whether those communities are leaving the Democratic Party.

Democrats have been able to count on the Latino vote for decades. As the Republican Party ramped up racism, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant hate speech, Latinos become more loyal to the Democratic Party.

But that’s changing. While Latino voters are still, overall, Democrats, there are disturbing indications of a different future. Donald Trump’s share of the Latino vote increased dramatically between 2016 and 2020. And Latino voters are showing other signs of moving right and turning red.

This is particularly important in California, and San Diego, where the Latino vote is key to Democratic victory.

Why is this happening, and how might this effect politics in the nation, state, and San Diego? And to what extent does the changing Latino vote reflect Democratic Party difficulties connecting with other voters of all ethnicities? We’ve assembled a panel of local Latino leaders to find out, including:

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party: An award-winning former reporter, organizer, and veteran of the United States Marine Corps, with more than a decade of demonstrated service to community and country, Will first became civically active fighting against the unconstitutional “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which led to his honorable, though involuntary, separation from the Marine Corps, after being outed as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019, he was elected Chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, and unanimously re-elected in 2021.

Sean Elo-Rivera: As San Diego City Council member, District 9, Sean has worked on issues such as the eviction moratorium, housing, helping small businesses and nonprofits, the gas and electric franchise, and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He has worked for nonprofits helping youth and children and the homeless. Sean has served as an English and Special Needs teacher in Peru, volunteered as an environmental preservationist in Ecuador, as well as teaching English in a rural South Korean community. After attending the California Western School of Law, Sean worked in District 9 as a director of Mid-City CAN, a local nonprofit, working on issues such as low-cost bus passes for youth, better food in schools, and preventing young people from being treated unfairly by the justice system.

Rafael Castellanos is a business and real estate attorney, Chariman of the Port of San Diego, and member of several community organizations. Born and raised in a small town in northern Nevada, he worked as a gold miner after high school and then went to college in Arizona and law school in Chicago, living in San Diego more than 15 years, currently in Otay Mesa.

The meeting starts at 7 pm Wednesday, Nov. 3, 7 pm, on Zoom. Here’s the link:

Zoom link

And join us for open, social conversation starting a half-hour before the meeting, at 6:30 pm.

October meeting: La Mesa City Council candidates, and our favorite epidemiologist

Join us for the October meeting of the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club, where we’ll meet Democratic candidates for La Mesa City Council, and talk with our favorite epidemiologist, Rebecca Fielding-Miller.

The meeting is 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 6, on Zoom, with social time starting at 6:30 pm. Here’s the Zoom link

We’ll hear from three of the four Democratic candidates for the special election for La Mesa City Council. Patricia Dillard, Mejgan Afshan, and Kathleen Brand are vying against fellow Democrat Michelle Louden and Republicans. At stake is not just the one seat, but also the Democratic council majority, and La Mesa’s representation on the SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments, which serves as a forum for decision-making across the county, as well as representation on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) to drive sensible regional transportation plans. If a Republican wins this seat, that’ll kneecap plans to mitigate climate change, and jeopardize police reform.

So this election is a big deal, with effects far beyond La Mesa borders.

Candidates who have agreed to speak at the meeting will be:

Patricia Dillard: La Mesa businesswoman, and minister’s wife, active in the Church of Christ and worker to advance women and minority owned businesses. She serves as vice chair of the Community Police Oversight Board for the City of La Mesa.

Mejgan Afshan: Civil rights advocate, community organizer, and non-profit co-founder. She co-founded Borderlands for Equity, pro-bono civil-rights nonprofit, and founder of the East County Justice Coalition, a group dedicated to addressing inequity and racial justice. She regularly conducts workshops about effective advocacy, coalition building, and dismantling misogyny.

Kathleen Brand is a senior planner for the city of San Diego who previously worked as a landscape architect, and a member of the La Mesa Community Services Commission, with a background in urban planning.

The fourth Democrat, Michelle Louden, is welcome to join us as well. She’s been invited, but we haven’t heard back from her. If you know Michelle, please put in a word—ask her to contact mitch@mitchwagner.com

Also joining is is Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller, to give us an update on the state of the pandemic.

Dr. Fielding-Miller is an epidemiologist working on COVID research at UCSD. She will with us about the state of the pandemic, how it’s hitting San Diego, what we are doing and should be doing, and the future outlook.

Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Fielding-Miller did interesting and important work in HIV and gender, in both the US and sub-Saharan Africa. She received her PHD in behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University in Atlanta, and a Masters of Science in Public Health in international health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

It’s going to be great meeting and the only thing missing is you. Join us!

Revolting Republican recalls: Watch the video of our September meeting

Revolting Republican recalls: Watch the video of our September meeting

Dig under the surface on what’s happening with the Republican recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom, with a panel of political powerhouse operatives, including:

  • Eva Posner, president of political consultancy Evinco Strategies, specializing in helping women win, including working on the campaign of San Diego City Council Member Monica Montgomery Steppe
  • Jesus Cardenas, principal consultant at Grassroots Resources and chief of staff for San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn
  • and Dan Rottenstreich, founder of Amplify Campaigns and former VP of RoseK Consulting, a legendary firm helping Democrats across the country and local labor campaigns.

We talked about what’s driving these revolting, rotten, repellent, repulsive, rancid, rank, rankling, rather ugly, reeking, regrettable, reprehensible, repugnant Republican recall drive, and where it’s likely to end up.

Topics include:

  • Likely outcome? Which side appears likely to win?
  • If the recall passes—if Gavin Newsom (and the people of California) lose, who’s likely to win? What will they probably do?
  • What are some of the other recalls going on that effect San Diego? Republicans re leading a racist recall attempt in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, against Chardá Bell-Fontenot—are there others?
  • How and why did San Diego flip from red to blue?
  • What are the major elections and issues you anticipate for 2022, in the state, in San Diego and in other local communities?

We also talked about how you can volunteer to beat the recall–California needs you! Volunteer to walk a neighborhood or phonebank, for the two Saturdays and Sundays between now and the election, Sept. 14 Sign up here: sddems.link/action.