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The Deeply Personal Race for District 8: Voices of the Voters in Barrio Logan and San Ysidro

In the City Council race between Antonio Martinez and Vivian Moreno to represent San Diego’s southernmost neighborhoods, voters said they went with who they knew – or who had at least made them feel like they knew them.

Voters cast ballots at a polling place in Barrio Logan. / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan.

For many voters in San Diego’s District 8, their choice in a City Council candidate was personal.

In the race between Antonio Martinez and Vivian Moreno to represent San Diego’s southernmost neighborhoods, including Barrio Logan, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, it came down to the candidate voters knew – or who had at least made them feel like they knew them.

For Gloria Sonora of San Ysidro and Juan Muñoz of Barrio Logan, Moreno’s visits to their homes made their decision.

Muñoz said he mainly came out to vote for the governor’s race – he voted for Republican John Cox – and to vote yes on Measure E, the SoccerCity proposal, because he feels like San Diego needs a sports team in town again.

But he also voted for Moreno, a Democrat, for City Council.

Juan Muñoz / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan

“I know her,” Muñoz said. “She came to my house.”

Muñoz couldn’t remember what exactly they talked about or her policy proposals, but it was the personal touch, the ability to put a person to the name on the ballot that earned his vote.

Sonora spoke with Moreno too – the candidate told her about some of the work she’d done, like the construction of a new library in San Ysidro that is currently underway.

Gloria Sonora / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan

Sonora also said she was motivated to vote because many of the state and local ballot measures deal with important issues she felt obligated to weigh in on, like the cost of dialysis, a potential soccer stadium in San Diego and funds for freeway construction. Then there was the daylights savings measure, which really affects everyone, she said.

She had woken up alarmed she was late to drop off her granddaughter at San Ysidro High School, where she also voted, because her husband had forgotten to change the clock in their bedroom during Sunday’s time change.

“It’s very important to vote,” she said in Spanish. “It’s the only way you can help make decisions.”

Rodolfo Jesus Anaya Luna has been in the United States for 10 years, but this year was the first he’s been able to cast a ballot. He became a U.S. citizen in February.

Rodolfo Jesus Anaya Luna / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan

“It’s so exciting that I can vote,” he said. “I registered as early as I could. I got here at 7 a.m., as soon at the polls opened.” He realized he forgot his voter’s booklet, though, where he had taken notes on candidates and measures and how he wanted to vote. He ran home and came back. Luckily, he lives right across the street from San Ysidro High School, his polling location.

Anaya Luna voted for Moreno, too. When he was a student at San Diego State University years ago, he had a friend who knew her. The two met and he’s been able to follow her work and ideas closely for a while, he said.

“I know her,” he said. “I like what she’s done and what she wants to do.”

Lorena Martinez cast her vote for City Council for Antonio Martinez. It was also because she felt like she knew him and his commitment to the community he’s trying to represent.

“I know him,” she said. “I mean I don’t know know him. But he’s so active in the community. I see his work. He’s dedicated and passionate.”

Martinez said she comes from a very politically active family and her dad instilled the importance of voting in her and all her siblings. She decided how to vote on all the measures because her dad and brothers went through all the state and county-provided booklets to explain all the races and ballot measures, and explained how they would or wouldn’t benefit her.

“They do the dirty work,” she said. “Then I just vote.”

Stephanie Vargas votes with her siblings in mind. Her brother is in the military, currently deployed, but she wants him to come home to a good situation. Her younger siblings are still in school, so Vargas sees measures like school bonds as particularly important.

“I vote thinking about my family and what would impact them,” Vargas said.

Stephanie Vargas / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan

Vargas was born and raised in Barrio Logan. There are some local programs her siblings have been dependent on, like the Barrio Logan College Institute, which is providing them a pathway to higher education from a young age. David Alvarez, the outgoing City Council member, supported the program a lot, she said, and she wants to see that kind of support continued.

Moreno had Alvarez’s support, so Vargas trusts she’ll carry on the tradition of supporting those programs.

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