The Chargers are leaving, but I’m staying – and I want to work for you as a progressive voice for San Diego city council’s district 2.
That’s one question I frequently hear when I tell people about my plan to leave the Chargers, stay in America’s Finest City, and run as a progressive choice for San Diego’s District 2 City Council seat.
To most people, I’ve spent the past decade living a charmed life. While plenty pay to watch NFL games in person, I was paid to cover them. I’ve co-hosted my own television show, celebrated in locker rooms after playoff victories, and traveled the country on chartered planes. I’ve lost count of the number of people, of all walks of life, who told me they’d switch places with me in an instant.
I’m beyond grateful for those experiences, but after nine seasons, trips to 32 NFL cities, and 183 games, I realized I could no longer lie to myself. I needed to do something that made a difference. I needed to do something that mattered.
Don’t get me wrong – sports play an incredibly important role in many of our lives. They provide a few wonderful hours of escape from an ever disheartening reality. I still can’t believe my luck that I got to cover America’s most popular sport so intimately. Heck, I got to watch ESPN & check Twitter for legitimate work purposes!
Yet, as I read about the catastrophic effects of climate change, it became tougher for me to care about who the Chiefs’ inactives were. The more homeless people I saw on the street, ignored like they were simply a part of our city’s scenery & devoid of human dignity, the less concerned I was about how the Bolts might slow down Von Miller. The scarcity of good offensive linemen around the NFL became insignificant when I realized our scarcity of affordable housing. It’s time for me to move away from a daily life of bread and circuses and work to make San Diego better.
This is not a sudden realization.
About a year ago, I was in Houston as NFL owners decided the fate of three franchises. While I wasn’t sure of the outcome, I ruminated over the idea of leaving San Diego, a place my wife and I had called home for four years. We didn’t grow up in America’s Finest City, but we’d quickly made San Diego our home, developing friendships that felt more like family. We also loved our neighborhood of Pacific Beach – the attitude, the walkability, the small town charm near the heart of America’s 8th largest city. So when it was announced that the Chargers would be staying in San Diego for 2016, I realized it was an opportunity for me as well.
Since that January day, I’ve become even more deeply involved in my adopted hometown. I’ve been elected a director of the Pacific Beach Town Council. I’ve joined the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, the San Diego Young Democrats, and the Pacific Beach Democratic Club. I’ve volunteered for ReWild Mission Bay, taken part in beach & neighborhood cleanups, and grown milkweed to help struggling Monarch populations (and have somehow managed not to kill everything I’ve planted). I’ve learned about the issues that matter to District 2 residents, whether they live in Bay Ho, Point Loma, or anywhere in between.
And now, here we are. A year later, the Chargers are moving north. But I’m staying here – and I want to work for you.
I’m running for city council because I love my community and I want to make the best place on Earth an even better place to live.
I’m tired of unfilled potholes.
I’m tired of picking up trash on Garnet Avenue.
I’m tired of being ignored.
We’ve had absentee leadership here in District 2; representatives that talk about how they understand the issues we face but don’t work to fix them.
It’s time to get back to basics; doing the simple things that will make life better for those who are lucky enough to call this little piece of America home. While fixing potholes and keeping our streets clean are priorities, District 2 deserves someone who wants to tackle the big issues too.
I’m running for city council because we’re leaving too many behind in San Diego.
We’re not doing enough for the family living on the streets because their landlord raised the rent. We’re not doing enough for the the young couple priced out of their hometown because the words “starter home” don’t exist in San Diego. We’re not doing enough for the California Least Tern, an endangered bird whose natural habitat isn’t being correctly expanded in the current designs for the De Anza revitalization project.
Homelessness. Affordable housing. The environment.
For too many at city hall, these issues are priorities in theory, but afterthoughts in action.
I promise to change that.
I will work to put a roof over the head of our most vulnerable, not put rocks under overpasses. I will fight to cut red tape to help build more housing, not allow a generation of San Diegans to pack up and leave. I will ensure that we actually reach our Climate Action Plan mandates because it’s right, not ignore the historic legislation because it’s hard.
Neglecting the big issues has long been a staple of San Diego politics. That stops with me. That stops because we’re no longer a conservative city accepting the current state of affairs. America’s Finest City has come a long way from being the piggy bank of Richard Nixon and the launching pad of Pete Wilson. Now, it’s a blue city that’s starting to realize its potential at a critical time in our nation’s history. Winning this race here in District 2 is crucial to finalizing that transition.
There’s one more critical reason I feel so compelled to serve.
November 8th, 2016.
Donald Trump’s victory that night shook me like no loss I’ve ever experienced during my time in professional sports. I was in a fog for days afterward, trying to get my head around the implications of this self-destructive national decision. Trump and the current Republican Party represent, nearly point-by-point, the antithesis of what I hold dear and of how I live my life.
I’m married to an amazing woman who, a month before our wedding last July, went to rehab to stop drinking and become a better version of herself – something we couldn’t have afforded without Obamacare. I fist pumped in the office when I saw the Paris Climate Treaty had passed, and couldn’t have been prouder when our city pushed through the Climate Action Plan. I’ve seen how scared my friends in the LGBTQIA community and people of color are about their future. I know the difference that Planned Parenthood has made in the lives of those I love.
A few weeks ago, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond said, “you all face a choice: be courageous, or be complicit.”
I’m not claiming to be courageous, but I will not allow myself to be complicit.
I’m buoyed by the energy we’re seeing in San Diego. I felt hope for the first time since the election at the Women’s March and felt anger protesting at Lindbergh Field after Trump’s Muslim Ban. This is what we need to carry with us as we head towards 2018. We cannot fall back to complacency.
We as progressives not only lost at the top of the ticket but are seeing the results of a party whose down-ballot potency has withered on the vine. The GOP is not only winning in battleground states, or in light blue states, it’s winning in proudly liberal constituencies too. We shouldn’t have a Republican Governor for Vermont, Senator for Colorado, or Councilmember for District 2.
In 2018, we can at least correct the last one.
I’ll have plenty of time to talk about the shortcomings of District 2’s current City Councilor Lorie Zapf. Her views and values, her votes and budgetary priorities, all seem to be at odds with what we hold most dear here in District 2.
While she talks about her priorities of retaining police officers, fixing our streets, and maintaining our storm drains, none of these issues were worthy of being budgetary priorities for her. When it was in committee, she voted against the Climate Action Plan and its best feature – mandated emissions cuts – asking that the cuts only be goals, and therefore, not legally binding. Finally, she supports Donald Trump’s reactionary and divisive agenda, finding “hope and unity” in his message. These positions and policies don’t represent District 2, and come 2018, neither should Councilmember Zapf.
The other side is not going to go down without a fight, no matter how poor a fit Lorie Zapf might be for this district. Last time around she, along with two Super PACs, raised almost $1 million to eke out a June victory in 2014. With this seat being the key to a 6 to 3 veto proof democratic majority on the city council, or continuing the current council set up, even more money will roll in.
We need your help fighting back. Just click on the “Donate” button in the top right-hand corner to get started. Whether a little or a lot, every dollar helps San Diego move forward.
So, I will not be joining the Chargers as they move to LA. Instead, I’m champing at the bit to get off the sidelines. I’m ready and I hope you’ll come along with me as we try to make San Diego, and District 2, a better place for all of us.