San Diego Schools Trustee Barrera To Lead Labor Council

By Wendy Fry
|  Tuesday, May 21, 2013  |  Updated 11:09 PM PDT
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San Diego Schools Trustee Barrera To Lead Labor Council

Four of five San Diego Unified School District candidates at this year's Politifest debate. From left to right, John Lee Evans, Richard Barrera, Bill Ponder and Mark Powell. Marne Foster did not attend.

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As San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Secretary Lorena Gonzalez surges to a landslide win in the race to fill the vacant 80th Assembly District, two top labor leaders confirm her successor, San Diego schools trustee Richard Barrera, as being tapped to fill her spot representing more than 200,000 union workers.

The official executive board vote is Wednesday night, the two labor officials said. The process is not just a formality with delegates also voting, one of them warned. But, Barrera has been widely visible at union rallys and events since Gonzalez officially announced her candidacy to represent the South County district that includes parts of southern San Diego, Chula Vista and National City and San Ysidro.

Gonzalez secured a sweeping 44-point lead against former Chula Vista City Councilman and fellow Democrat Steve Castaneda, avoiding a runoff in the special election.

"It doesn't get much better than this," she said via text message.

Gonzalez, a Sherman Heights resident, attorney, and single mother of two, had more than 72 percent of the vote as of 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.

With early returns expected to hold, Gonzalez will replace Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who won a special election in March to fill the vacated seat of Congressman Juan Vargas. Vargas went to Congress earlier this year when former Democratic Rep. Bob Filner was elected as mayor of San Diego.

Gonzalez first became Secretary-Treasurer and CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council in 2008 after serving as the organization's political director. The umbrella coalition represents 135 local labor unions.

Favored as her replacement on the Labor Council, Barrera was first elected to the San Diego Unified School Board in 2008 in an unchallenged election after his predecessor, Luis Acle, failed to gather enough valid signatures on a petition to qualify for the ballot in the June 2008 primary election.

He has served as a San Diego regional organizer for both the United Domestic Workers and United Healthcare Workers.

"We're all proud of Lorena and the work she will continue to do for working families throughout California," Barrera said Tuesday night.

His likely move to the region's top labor leader opens the question of whether he will continue serving on the school board, and if a special election will be held to replace him.


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