David Alvarez is one of three candidates running for the 80th Assembly District Special Election on April 5, after the resignation of Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez in January. The 41-year-old Democrat, is a small business owner, beginning Causa Consulting after 15 years of governmental service, including serving on the San Diego City Council for eight years. He served as a member of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, San Diego Association of Governments, Metropolitan Transit System, Board of the League of Cities’ Latino Caucus, and the national Board of Local Progress.
Alvarez said he is excited to run for the 80th District and is concerned about the future of the state and the communities in Chula Vista, National City, and South San Diego.
“I am afraid how the state has been failing our kids,” he said. “Kids have been falling behind over the past couple of years. We see the achievement gap. There has been much learning loss over the past couple of years with COVID, with online learning, the closure of schools. I think all of that has not been good for our kids. We have seen our children, especially those in our public schools really suffer as we saw private schools take a different approach, offer more resources, and more opportunities for the students who could afford it.”
Alvarez said most kids and families are public school students and had an extremely difficult time traversing through the pandemic.
“We are going to see the impact of this learning loss if we do not laser focus on making sure that the loss of learning is addressed, provide opportunities for students to catch up, whether it is after school programs, weekend programs, or a summer learning opportunity for all kids.”
Alvarez said as a native San Diegan, he is a proud SDSU graduate, and a proud child of the public education system. He said his parents were poor, he was an English Second Language learner, and met all the marks against all statistics of someone who should be successful.
“I was able to do that through my education,” he said. “That is why I value it so much. And why I value higher education. Along with making sure that our kids do not fall behind is that we need an unprecedented investment in higher education to prepare the future workforce. And that specifically means focusing on doing the work needed to bring a university to Chula Vista.”
Alvarez said this topic has been discussed for decades, but leadership has done much of anything to move this issue forward. The city has allocated over 300-acres of land in the eastern part of the city for a project like this and that it would be a “game changer.”
“We know when a university goes into a city it creates jobs, and educational opportunities for the families and children who live in the area,” he said. “I am focused on this project, and when I focus on a project, I get it done. You talk to the people of San Ysidro, where we took the oldest library in the San Diego County Library system, and now have the newest, latest, state-of the-art library there, a $20 million project.”
Alvarez said South Bay is extremely deficient in its parks, and he helped gaining new park spaces, and plans on using the same focus on getting a new university for the future of the community.
Alvarez said homelessness is an ongoing issue and more money is being spent than ever before, and it is not getting any better, it is getting worse.
“I think we need to look at mental health and substance abuse programs and funding, and reform that to make sure that people that need those services who unfortunately find themselves in a situation where they are living on the streets,” he said. “We need to find ways to provide resources for those individuals and address the core issues of homelessness. Yes, we should have shelters, and yes, we should have housing. But we need to focus on those issues that unless they get treatment, help, support to get in better shape and on their feet, becoming part of the workforce. If we do not focus on those other critical sources, we are never going to win this battle. People are living in encampments, the side of freeways, and people are dying.”
Alvarez said he wants to represent as someone that is part of this community.
“I grew up in this community. I served in this community,” he said. “Whether it was through church volunteerism, community volunteerism, San Diego City Council, working in the community, volunteering on boards. Public service is something that I really care about. I do this because I believe that we can make a change and a difference. We need that kind of representation in Sacramento focused on our community first.”
Alvarez said that the housing crisis is severe and is helping in his own way in building a granny flat in his backyard.
“When I was on city council, I helped change the laws to make it easier for those who wanted to build granny flats in their own backyards to be able to do so,” he said. “It is still challenging to do, even though I tried to make it easier. I am now going on two years of doing this, but hopefully in a couple of months if I can get SDG&E to come out and do the inspection to get it done, I am hoping to be part of the solution.”
Alvarez said looking for housing opportunities around the trolley.
“If you look at the Blue Line, and look at San Ysidro, Chula Vista, and National City, it runs through many industrial uses,” he said. “There is some opportunity for land use there and we can use it for something better and build housing. We are seeing some of that happen and I think that is where the future is. We need to incentivize more of that. The state took away a very important tool that we had on housing called Redevelopment. This is something that I am looking forward to taking on as an issue in Sacramento, working with other assembly people throughout the state that have the same experience that I have from local government, that this could be a very useful tool to help finance and build affordable housing. It is something we need to bring back and I think this is something that we can do in Sacramento.”
Alvarez said he thinks the state and the county have failed our communities in its response to COVID and the inequities that it brought to light.
“Data does not lie,” he said. “First, the testing was the worst in Chula Vista and National City and South San Diego. Then the cases of COVID, the worst. Vaccination rates, the worst. Along the way we saw this. Unfortunately, the state and our leaders failed us in addressing these issues directly in these communities. By not providing the services that these communities needed first.”
Alvarez said now, while we are in this current downturn of COVID, he said there are many lessons that should be taken, and moving forward, the state learns in these communities need to be prioritized differently.
“It has been proven time and time again that our communities have been neglected,” he said. “They have been neglected by politicians that want to use political stepping stones to get to the next level. They do not get things done for our community. With COVID, their priorities are not the communities’ priorities. I am very disappointed at what the state has done over the past two years, and I am only hopeful because of responsible individuals were doing their best to work our way out of this.”
Alvarez said if elected, he would like to focus on education, so he would like to serve on the Education Committee and would also like to serve on the Budget Committee.
Alvarez was born and raised in Logan Heights and still lives there with his family. His wife, two children, and their rescue dog.
For more information on Alvarez’s campaign, visit www.davidalvarez.com.