For the first time in 25 years, there will be a new elected official sitting in the chair occupied by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 1 representative.
Four of the top candidates vying for the seat occupied by incumbent Greg Cox interviewed with NBC 7. The winner will be either a Democratic Latino or Latina.
District 1 run covers a sprawling area of more than 630,000 people in the South Bay and parts of the city of San Diego. Here’s a look at the four candidates and their priorities.
Community college board member Nora Vargas said her priorities are health care and in-home services.
“For me, it really is about how do we create opportunities, and for over 20 years I've been really working to reduce barriers on health care and education and so I want to take that experience and that energy to create opportunities to our communities," said Vargas.
Vargas said her ability to unify local activists and community groups will help achieve her goals.
“I've fought for housing issues, I fight for climate issues, I fight for health care. And so bringing those partners together, I know we can make a difference. So it's really about the power of community," said Vargas.
State Senator Ben Hueso, a former San Diego City Councilman, is the most experienced politician in the group of challengers.
“San Diegans need a better quality of life. They need housing to be more affordable. They need opportunity to move up the economic ladder. They need to raise their families in a safe environment,” said Hueso.
Hueso points to housing and community projects in Barrio Logan as an example of bringing community priorities to life, and said he'll do the same as a supervisor.
”We have led a renaissance in this community that is including the people of the community in creating affordable housing with bayfront views, created mom and pop shops in the neighborhood because it was not my vision, it was our vision together," said Hueso.
Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos said the number one issue he’s focused on is the toxic sewage dumping into the Tijuana River Valley. He calls it an example of what’s wrong with government when it comes to the South Bay.
“We need to demand that Mexico either fix the broken pumps or give us the right of entry to do so ourselves. If they fail to do that, then we need a north American development bank to loan them the money for American companies and workers to go in and do the work ourselves," said Castellano.
Castellanos said his business and real estate expertise will help him with the biggest challenges facing the region.
“This district has the highest poverty rate, the highest unemployment rate, the highest rates of housing and food insecurity, and its because of the leadership we've had for decades," he said.
Sophia Rodriguez is a human services specialist with the county.
“As a county employee, I know the board of supervisors has access to much land in the unincorporated areas. We've actually seen how the counties can use this for building infrastructure for low-income housing,”
Rodriguez is a county human services specialist, who at one point was homeless. She said that difficult life experience makes her an ideal candidate to move a critical issue forward.
“Homelessness and housing are intertwined. The reason I was sleeping in my car, the reason I was renting a living room was, I obviously could not afford a place by myself, much less alone with a roommate and so we need to make sure we're addressing the housing crisis,” said Rodriguez.
Alex Galicia, a small business owner and U.S. Army veteran from Chula Vista, is also vying for the seat as a Republican. He describes himself as a taxpayer-centric candidate that works on behalf of other veterans.
He believes in lowering building costs to encourage development, supporting business owners, and promoting cross-country partnerships to secure borders and build economic growth. Read the rest of his platforms here.