Georgette Gomez campaigned against San Diego’s powers that be. Now she’s one of them.
Gomez won the race for City Council District 9 with about 52 percent of the vote Tuesday. She’ll represent a diverse swath of the city that includes parts of southeastern San Diego, City Heights, Kensington-Talmadge and the College Area.
She’ll now transition her anti-establishment campaign to representing a district full of immigrants and refugees that may be shaken by the outcome of the presidential election.
Gomez had a tough fight against Ricardo Flores, whose allies targeted her with misleading ads. But she also tried to portray Flores – another Latino Democrat – as a Donald Trump-like figure because one or two Trump donors also supported Flores’ candidacy. Gomez saw a strand of angst in District 9 she tried to exploit and that she’ll deal with as she represents the district during the coming Trump presidency.
The race, though, was a true insider versus outsider contest. Flores was a quintessential insider – the top aide to outgoing City Councilwoman Marti Emerald. Though he, like Gomez, is a Democrat, Flores became the darling of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which put $100,000 behind his candidacy.
Despite the cash infusion from business groups into the race, voters picked someone who made a name for herself in a long and often losing battle against industry. As an associate director at the nonprofit Environmental Health Coalition, Gomez was a driving force during the fight to separate homes and heavy industry in Barrio Logan to protect residents’ health, an effort ultimately overturned by voters.
Gomez joins the City Council’s 5-4 Democratic majority. Three of those five Democrats are rookies – Gomez, Barbara Bry and Chris Ward.
How these rookies get along and who they choose to replace outgoing Council President Sherri Lightner will say a lot about the direction of the city in coming years. The Council presidency is an influential role because it controls what items reach the City Council docket.
Councilman David Alvarez, who has signaled his interest in the position, has gained an ally in Gomez, who worked on Alvarez’s unsuccessful run for mayor.
Now part of the establishment she ran against, Gomez will turn to representing a district to which she promised change. She campaigned against developers, but also promised to bring new development to City Heights and other low-income parts of her district.
During the campaign, Gomez promised to try to get more state money for affordable housing and talked about the need for better infrastructure, particularly public transit.