Georgette Gomez 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 46-year-old Democrat got her start working as a crisis counselor with survivors of domestic violence and abuse. She led the Toxic Free Neighborhood Campaign to protect kids from lead paint and keeping corporate polluters out of residential communities. As the first LGBTQ Latina San Diego City Council presidents, Gomez authored San Diego’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance to create affordable housing, which she also accomplished at the state level with the passage of Assembly Bill creating penalties for corporate polluters for vulnerable communities impacted by pollution. Gomez assisted in the passing of Assembly Bill 805, a regional approach to transit for underserved communities in South Bay San Diego. As City Council president she fought to halt evictions, stop utility shutoffs, and helped residents with rent relief and worked to help small businesses weather the pandemic, and authored a worker retention ordinance preventing layoffs in the regions tourism and service industries.
A first generation Mexican-American and native San Diegan, Gomez grew up in Barrio Logan. She currently lives in City Heights and is in the process of moving back to Barrio Logan.
Gomez said this is an extremely critical race for South Bay as former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez worked strongly on behalf of working families and that is the majority population in South County.
“These are families that continue to live paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “They are continuing to struggle with critical issues spending more than 50% of their earned income on paying their rent. Which leads to one of the issues I want to continue to work on, addressing housing affordability.
Gomez said it is critical to realize that the entire region is getting more expensive to live in, and as the cost of granting homes is increasing, wages are not keeping up.
“We are starting to see the impact of the high cost of living in San Diego region and the beautiful state of California, but it is impacting people at the end of the day,” she said. “I will continue to go to the state if the voters allow me to represent South Bay, to truly tackle housing affordability.”
Gomez said in her time on the San Diego City Council she took on major issues impacting working families. Updating the inclusionary ordinance leading to more affordable housing, and getting the convention center on the ballot to boost San Diego’s economic engine.
“That is important to me because getting to the root of all of these social challenges is income equality,” she said. “Another area I want to work on is working with our local leaders to have a gameplan in where we are utilizing the power of Sacramento to attract better opportunities for jobs that are increasing people’s income and really growing the middle class income instead of shrinking it. We are seeing the income inequalities continuing to grow, creating more poverty, and that is not where we should be heading.”
Gomez said the climate crises is another major issue, but wants to emphasize environmental justice in that conversation, especially South Bay.
“We need to recognize that South Bay is the highest polluted communities in our region,” she said. “Starting from Barrio Logan and going all the way down to the border. That is because we have the highways, the industries, and a major national border crossing.”
Gomez said she wants to emphasize and uplift the environmental justice community’s concerns, but also uplift the binational relationships concerning the climate crises. She said there has been good work in creating binational partners on economic growth but realizes that the relationship must go beyond economics.
“We have many San Diegans that live in Tijuana and Baja, California, because they cannot afford to live in San Diego,” she said. “They are crossing that border every single day to get to their jobs, schools, and what that means in the climate and the housing conversation. I want to expand on the binational relationship that we have, centering on the human aspect of it, and lifting the environmental aspect of the border. The Tijuana sewage is a major one, but it can go beyond that as well.”
Gomez said when she sees issues impacting our communities, she tries to think of solutions and move forward with them through legislation or finding a way to fix challenges. She said the recent problem between the city of Chula Vista and Republic Services during the strike, she wants to find out a way how the state can help so that these types of situations do not happen again. She said she reached out to Council member Steve Padilla to brainstorm a bill which would be a sanitation customer’s bill of rights that she would like to introduce as one of her first bills if elected.
“We want to make sure that there are no disruptive services occurring when there is a negotiation occurring, that the company needs to keep services going regardless,” she said, along with making sure that a city receives a notification of disruption of services during labor negotiations. She said private companies should be held accountable regardless of the contract they have.
Gomez said healthcare is another major issue and with the COVID-19 pandemic the South Bay was hit significantly.
“With COVID, we saw how with the economic impact how there was also high unemployment in South Bay,” she said. “In making sure that we are ready for crisis from pandemics in the future, that the state is ready, and making sure that its resources are there to respond in a fast way is critical. I would like to see this a priority. I would like to see these issues that have been neglected for many years in not providing resources to underserved communities. There should be a level of response in responding immediately to underserved communities.”
Gomez said she believes the state did a good job in responding to the pandemic, but there is room for improvement in education, the digital divide, and preparedness for COVID.
“I am also hoping that part of that COVID response in the future is to be able to allocate resources to a border response,” she said. “That is where we failed tremendously. As council president, I was being called by Tijuana and Baja elected leaders asking if I could reach out to the governor for border assistance. But we were not ready for that. We did not have a border response. It came onboard afterwards. The federal government failed completely and never got their act together, but California did.”
Gomez said the pandemic showed how essential childcare is.
“We want to make sure we are moving forward with some sort of program that provides childcare that is affordable and accessible to people, because that created a huge disruption in the workforce,” she said. “We were not ready for that. It impacted many women as well as they took the burden to stay at home and take care of their child. We do not have a system in place to be able to provide this service in a way that is accessible for all. Our working families got hit the worst.”
Gomez said getting a four-year university in Chula Vista is significant.
“We are still far from getting one, but I do believe that it is extremely important,” she said.
“We have many good colleges and universities, but it is very telling where we place them. It influences the youth. If they do not see a university in their neighborhood, what does that mean in having access to higher education? To not have one in South Bay is a shame. It is something that I support and will fight for in trying to get the resources to make it happen. Our community deserves it, and it is time that we have one.”