My first law school elective was a class about solving problems creatively with community. My professor came to me at the end of the first day of class and told me I should volunteer at the City Heights Community Law Project.
That week, I visited Hoover High School for my first legal clinic – and what would become a yearlong experience that helped define my professional life. My experience in City Heights made me fall in love with the community.
For the first time, I was in a community that resembled my family.
I met folks with roots all over the world who came here seeking safety and opportunity. I witnessed families struggling to get by, and neighbors from different faiths and cultures working through their differences to come together for their children and community. I found home.
My time at the Community Law Project also led to my decision to forego practicing law and, instead, pursue working with the community to change the policies impacting our lives.
Week after week, I met refugee parents, children of immigrants and third-generation community leaders who were facing similar obstacles – issues with housing, exploitation at work and unnecessary barriers to accessing basic services. I came to understand that the most severe struggles folks were facing were not the product of not having an attorney; they were the result of bad systems and policies that could be fixed.
By the end of my year of work, I knew where in San Diego I wanted to be and what kind of work I wanted to do.
So after law school, I accepted a position at Mid-City CAN, a nonprofit organization in District 9, where I led a team of dedicated community organizers to build a safe and healthy City Heights. And over the last year, I’ve had a chance to continue working in the community as I rebuilt a nonprofit organization called Youth Will into a catalyst for youth-driven change. Students from Crawford High School and San Diego State University have been key leaders as we strive to create a future where every young person has what they need to be happy, healthy, and prepared to reach their potential.
This past year has been one of the most rewarding of my life. I’ve had the chance to be part of a team that impacts 100,000 students and 5,000 workers in San Diego. It is for this reason I did not give much thought to the first set of messages I received telling me to run for City Council.
Everything changed when I sat down with our current council member and she encouraged me to run and ensure the good work being done in District 9 continues.
Our city is at a critical juncture. We are facing huge challenges, including a full-blown housing and homelessness crisis. However, we also have an incredible opportunity in front of us. The next decade can be a turning point, where San Diego shifts from being “America’s Finest City” for some to a world-class city for all.
City Council District 9 can – and should be – at the forefront of us getting there. Because, together, we can create quality housing, safety and justice, healthy neighborhoods and opportunity for our community.
Some folks might wonder “Didn’t Sean just run for office?” Yes. And serving as a Trustee is an incredible honor. Now, unexpectedly, I’ve been asked to serve in a different capacity at the end of 2020.
I’ve consulted with family, friends, community leaders and mentors. I’ve spoken with some of the young folks who were critical in my 2018 campaign. And I’ve earned the endorsement of all of my peers at the San Diego Community College District.
That is why, it is with great excitement that I announce my candidacy for San Diego City Council District 9. At 8 a.m. this morning, I arrived at the City Clerk and filed the paperwork to formally launch my campaign.
Our community is the vibrant heart of the city. We’ve spent years fighting for bold solutions to our challenges and it is critical we continue to be represented by someone who works directly with the many communities within our district. Someone who sees every part of District 9 as family.
Honestly, I am excited and a little scared. While we overcame a lot in our last campaign, the obstacles thrown at us this time will be even greater. However, I am confident we can do it together.
Just like last time, we will build a grassroots movement driven by those with the most at stake and fueled by a belief that our community deserves opportunity for all.
All we need is your support to secure the resources we need to build our movement. Are you in?