photo of Tasha Williamson in San Diego
Tasha Williamson, San Diego community activist and mayoral candidate, Oct. 2019 / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Tasha Williamson is running for mayor of San Diego. She has a lower profile than her fellow Democrats vying for the seat — Assemblyman Todd Gloria and City Councilwoman Barbara Bry.

She came to the VOSD podcast studio for one of our first 2020 election bonus episodes ahead of the March primary. Williamson is still a very (very, very) distant third in fundraising compared with Bry and Gloria.

The day before this interview was taped, Williamson was a no-show to a mayoral debate. She told Andrew Keatts that’s because she had to work at her day job.

Despite trailing in fundraising, and at times needing to sacrifice a debate stage for her day job, Williamson said she will be mayor.

Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

If you were elected mayor, would you retain David Nisleit as the police chief?

“When it comes to us, people of color, people who are immigrants, it feels like we don’t have the same rights. It feels that like equality is not within our previews when it comes to law enforcement — that they can do anything and disregard us as human beings, and that has not changed. And so, it’s unfortunate that I would not have Chief Nisleit as a chief of this city when I become mayor.”

What would you do differently around homelessness? 

“I would invest money in a building where we are going to create housing so that we could get people out of homelessness and put services and supports there. So we can create communities. Communities for people where they feel safe, where they feel that they can get the supports that they need and where we can have them lifted up in wraparound supports based on an assessment per individual, not in a box where we just dump people.”

“We should be making sure … that we deal with mental health a little bit different and we deal with drug addiction a little bit different. And instead of making people rich that are our friends, as this mayor has done, that we actually invest in people in this city and make sure that they can thrive.”

Earlier this year, Williamson told Keatts that the local Democratic Party “has been silent to racism and inequality.” As a follow-up, he asked what issues she wished the party had spoken out about.

“One of the things that I see throughout this San Diego County Democrat Party is they are majority white people. Um, and many of them are all white. That they have not learned how to be inclusive in a democracy.”

“There is some real systemic issues, and they do not stand up and speak out about racism in the manner that they should. This party does not lock arms with us when we are out in protest, when people have been murdered.”

How are you going to win this race? 

“With the people. So it’s going to take the people. And we are a grassroots campaign. And when I say grassroots, it’s not like Todd Gloria’s grassroots. We are grassroots in the blades. We are in the streets, we have boots on the streets. We have the experience and we are running this campaign just like the civil rights movement. Because that’s what we are, what we are up against. It is still a civil rights movement here in the city of San Diego, one of the richest cities in the nation and also one of the racist.”

Listen Now

• Listen on Apple
• Listen on Google
• Listen on Spotify

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.