A Single Seat Could Make a Big Difference

New face on Escondido's City Council is a first

She's a first generation American.  English is her second language.  She's a small business owner.  And then there's her age.

32 year old Olga Diaz will be the new face on the Escondido city council, and youngest.  In fact, Diaz will be the second youngest council member ever for that city.  Her age, however, is not what most people say sets her apart.

Diaz will be the first Spanish speaking, Hispanic council member -- ever -- in Escondido.

And in a city where immigration issues have been at the forefront of city politics over the past couple years, this is a change Diaz said was needed.

"Traditionally, the city has had a power structure that has been sort of closed to the common person in town, and I represent sort of one foot in the door for the rest of the town," said Diaz.

She narrowly defeated incumbent Ed Gallo on election day.  At one point in the night, the two were separated by only 13 votes.

Gallo, alongside Councilman Sam Abed, has been a force in the push towards laws some in the community have described as anti-immigrant. 

Abed said he knows he and Diaz will not agree on how to handle the affect of illegal immigration in Escondido.  He also acknowledges her vote could tip the council majority on such issues.

"We have different political philosophies, but however, we need to respect each others positions and policies and work together," said Abed.

In a city where race and immigration are almost impossible issues to ignore, Diaz says her win is significant, and history making.  At the same time, she says she will not let it define her new role.

"I'd also like it to be something that in a couple of months people can say it doesn't matter, what was that all about.  It shouldn't matter.  It doesn't matter.  And we're all here together to make this town better."

Diaz will be sworn in to the council next month.

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