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Newly Elected Democrats Are Making Their Mark

The 2014 election was dismal for Democrats nationally, but it was not all doom and gloom in San Diego County. Sixty-four percent of our endorsed Democratic candidates were elected, and 2015 saw 20 freshman Democratic officials taking the oath of office. These new leaders are finding their footing in public office as they serve their constituents and transform our values and priorities into policies. We are already seeing progress and results. I hope that you too will find their stories inspiring.

Lifelong Oceanside Resident Chuck Lowery Brings Fresh Start to Contentious Council

Chuck Lowery, a lifelong resident and former business owner in Oceanside, was the top vote-getter in November when he was elected to the City Council. Chuck won his election with a broad coalition of Democrats, business leaders, firefighters and police, environmentalists, animal lovers, the LGBT community, seniors, veterans, philanthropists and others.

Chuck immediately set a tone that was both firm and friendly, and he was appointed to serve as Deputy Mayor of Oceanside. He has been recognized as a leader on a wide range of issues, from his lone vote against the SANDAG regional transportation plan that was eventually rejected by the courts to successfully securing federal funds to help house homeless veterans for the first time in Oceanside history.

Chuck’s top priorities are to increase the transparency of city government for better access to city services, to update Oceanside’s 30-year-old general plan to include a much-needed Climate Action Plan, and to increase available affordable housing to decrease homelessness and engage more people in Oceanside’s economy.

As an elected official, Chuck engages easily in the up-front and personal nature of local democracy. He keeps constituents informed through regular email newsletters, YouTube, and Facebook posts. He does his homework and doesn't shirk from making tough decisions. By putting principles before politics, Chuck has become a well-respected public offical in Oceanside.

From Razor-Thin Margin to Widespread Respect: Serge Dedina Surfs to Success

Serge Dedina's campaign to unseat the incumbent mayor of Imperial Beach was as grassroots as it gets. The contest extended far beyond Election Day due to a razor thin-margin that see-sawed back and forth until he ultimately won by 49 votes -- less than 1 percent. 

Mayor Dedina grew up in Imperial Beach, where he is still an avid surfer on the same beaches where he worked as a lifeguard prior to graduating from UCSD. Serge was already widely respected as the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit WildCoast. As Mayor, Serge is building on his experience in binational relationships, environmental protection, and climate change preparedness in Imperial Beach.

Serge's personal connections to the people of his city have already made a difference. He has increased participation in local government. He has opened the appointment process and attracted new candidates who are eager to serve. He is engaging residents in discussions about their priorities and is responsive to their concerns. He regularly publishes his Mayor's Corner column in the local newspaper. You can view his latest article here discussing beach safety, sand castle contests, preparations for sea-level rise, and El Niño, along with the new friendship agreement with the City of Rosarito Beach.

Whether surfing with cross-border colleagues, interacting with residents, or increasing economic opportunities, Serge has an exciting vision for a secure, prosperous, and inclusive Imperial Beach.

Sweeping Changes on Sweetwater Board Restore Confidence After Scandals Rock District

Sweetwater Union High School District was in big trouble. Members of the School Board and the Superintendent were convicted of corruption in a sweeping scandal that rocked the district. Students suffered due to the disruption and dysfunction throughout the district.

In November 2014, Democratic candidates won four of the five seats on the all-new board of trustees. A change of this kind presents many challenges, from the steep learning curve of a newly elected board to the urgent need to restore stability and confidence in the district

The new board has met the challenge and made great strides. They have restored the focus of the district on the students and accomplished their first goal of hiring a new superintendent, who is building an effective leadership team.

The new board members offer a wide range of skills and experiences to the constituents they represent. They remind us that our democracy depends on individuals who are willing to commit their time and talent to serving the public good. I'd like to introduce you to them.

Nick Segura is an active parent in the district and involved in youth sports. As a manager, former president, and board member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569, he has a keen respect for working men and women, possesses valuable executive skills, and has an understanding of the financial responsibilities of a governing board.

Paula Hall is a longtime education budget analyst in the San Diego Unified School District with a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of school budgets and finance. She also has years of experience as a parent and volunteer leader in her community and schools.

Arturo Solis brings the unique perspective and experience of a classroom teacher who identifies with many of his students. Arturo grew up in a family that valued education as the path to success and was the first in his family to graduate from college.

Frank Tarantino cares deeply about the Sweetwater district, where he spent his career as a counselor and teacher. He honed his leadership skills and community network while serving on the Chula Vista School Board and on numerous other boards and commissions.

Democratic representation is increasing at all levels of government in San Diego County. We expect this trend to continue as the number of registered Democrats continues to outpace that of Republicans. However, we certainly don't take this for granted. We are always seeking out leaders in the community who are interested in running for office. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about running for office, please contact for more information. We'd love to have you join Chuck, Serge, Nick, Paula, Arturo, and Frank!