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Last year, Barry Pollard helped put together a 5k run in San Diego’s Fourth Council District. Organizers called the race “Run for Your Life.”
The title was a nod to healthy living, but Pollard said it was also a play on the perception of District 4 as crime-ridden. The district actually has the third lowest crime rate in the city over the past three years. Perceptions of the district will change, Pollard said, when people come and see it for positive events like charity races.
Pollard, who is running for City Council, contends attitude shifts will help San Diego’s southeastern communities create jobs and build stores and restaurants.
“I could be an advocate,” Pollard said. “A role that I would like to see as the council person is certainly to address things in City Hall. But it’s to remove obstacles wherever I can. Just let the position influence.”
Pollard’s lobbying efforts for the district during the latest round of redistricting show organizational success. The city’s black population declined, but the district’s black population increased under the new council boundaries. Pollard said he worked for that result because of fear in the black community over the potential loss of longstanding political power, and shifting Hispanic-dominated neighborhoods to the new District 9 helped accomplish the citywide goal of a second Latino-majority district. Hispanics and Asians in District 4, however, have lamented their lack of influence despite their growing numbers.
Pollard runs a human resources firm called People Solutions, but said the business is “sort of on hold” when confronted with city and state licensing and tax problems last month.
This is Pollard’s second run for the council seat, losing to former Councilman Tony Young in 2010.
Pollard and I spoke last week about his plans.
On Healthy, Affordable Groceries and Locally Owned Restaurants
District residents have long complained about food access, and some high-profile local restaurants have closed their doors recently.
Pollard wants to bring in new stores and work with existing ones to provide healthier options. But the most distinctive idea he mentioned involves gathering data on the shelf space dedicated to sugary foods at local liquor and convenience stores and potential correlations with the prevalence of diabetes in the district. A study could provide better information about the importance nutritious eating to district residents, he said.
“The point is not necessarily to drive things, but to measure and monitor things,” Pollard said.
On District 4’s Demographics
“I think people are going to realize it really doesn’t matter what color the person is,” Pollard said.
He plans to have a Spanish speaker on his staff and likely someone who speaks Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines, or another Asian language.
Pollard also plans to give his staff significant autonomy in their responsibilities for different district neighborhoods. That approach could help groom a successor from his staff, he said.
On the Influence of the Jacobs Center
Pollard said he backs the large development plans of the nonprofit Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, which hopes to build a Walmart, Walgreens, affordable housing and related projects.
“I don’t care who gets in there as long as we get fresh food and prices that are affordable,” he said.
The best way he can help, he said, is updating the area’s community plans. He would like extensive outreach and detailed environmental reviews.
He thinks the city, the Jacobs center and other developers should partner to finance the environmental reviews.
On Public Safety
Though the district has a lower overall crime rate than the rest of the city, violent crime is higher.
Pollard said he’d push to improve the Police Department’s staffing levels and neighborhood policing. He’d also like to see more cultural training for officers assigned to work in the district.
“A lot of these officers come over here, they’re young,” Pollard said. “Guarantee they have to be scared to death coming into this community for the first time. What are you going to have? You’re going to have fear going on. You’re going to have a lack of comfort.”
A greater emphasis on getting to know people in the community, he said, could help overcome that problem.
Pollard’s Achilles’ Heel
Pollard refers to himself as a “businessman” on the official ballot and has touted his business experience on the campaign trail. But he’s had troubles with his business, personal and previous campaign finances.
The city canceled the license for Pollard’s human resources business last year because of unpaid fees. Pollard has since regained an active city license and explained his situation on his campaign website.
As of last month, Pollard owed the state $7,311 in back corporate taxes, penalties and accrued interest. He said he has agreed to a repayment plan with the state, but has not provided documentation to support his claim. In 1992, Pollard filed for Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy, which restructures debt rather than eliminating it. The bankruptcy was dismissed three years later.
In February, Pollard agreed to pay a $3,500 fine to the city’s Ethics Commission for accounting and record-keeping errors from his 2010 campaign. The commission had earlier fined him $1,500 for not filing financial statements on time and for a lack of “paid for” disclosures on campaign items. (Two other major candidates, Dwayne Crenshaw and Bruce Williams, have had to pay Ethics Commission fines for past campaigns violations as well.)
During last week’s interview, Pollard declined to discuss how his own financial issues might affect his ability to handle city finances and budgeting. Previously, he told us residents would understand his situation.
“I think being on this end of it increases my sensitivity to people staying on top of it, as well as the city,” he said.
Get in Touch With Him
Office phone + email: 619-755-2391 + BarryPollard2013@gmail.com
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5663.
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