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I am District 7. I am a first generation Mexican American, born and raised in Linda Vista. My parents immigrated from Mexico, met in San Diego, and have called Linda Vista home ever since.  District 7 is still home to all of my family and where I raise my 7 year old daughter Sa’Niah. I attended Carson Elementary, Montgomery Middle School, Preuss, Kearny High School, and Mesa College. Every street in my neighborhood holds a childhood memory that shaped me, Linda Vista is a huge part of my identity, who I am.

Growing up in the poorest neighborhood of District 7, I was exposed to many symptoms of poverty from a young age. I had friends and family members deported. By the time I was a teenager, I was losing friends to violence, or incarceration. I did not understand a lot of what was happening to me or around me. As a latina, I did not talk about my problems to anyone; I just wanted to get out of my neighborhood, out of my home. There were no resources in my community, and the reality I lived as a child is still a reality for many in my neighborhood right now.

In 2015, I was working at McAlister Institute as a Drug Counselor. I noticed that many of my clients who were gang members, did not have any tools for street life during their recovery. At the same time, my little brother was falling hard to the streets of Linda Vista at only 13. Gang activity was getting out of control this year. In response, I take action, and founded Turnaround Youth Foundation, a non-profit that supports advocacy services for juvenile gang members in Linda Vista. Gangs are something I am far too familiar with, having family members who are gang affiliated, and friends who were also involved.

There are many things that happen in the mind of our youth before violence, or gang affiliation. If behavior is a symptom of our emotions, and our emotions are created by our environment, we needed to work on creating different options within the homes of our families and resources in our community. Transform pain instead of Transmitting. This was, and remains, the mission of Turnaround Youth. Empower Families to strengthen our youth; only then can we build safe communities.

It was the Multicultural Fair of 2015 where I found out that there was a Town Council in Linda Vista. I was ready to network, and introduce my program. My first time attending a meeting, I was shocked, and uncomfortable. The people attending did not look like the Linda Vista I grew up in. After asking around, more than half of Linda Vista didn’t even know we had a Town Council. That same year, I was encouraged to attend the Linda Vista Planning Group by our very own Community Relations Officer from Western Division. I also did not know this civic body existed, or what it was. I attended and again, didn’t feel comfortable in my own neighborhood. I was the only one in that space that looked like the community I grew up in.

Despite being voted in as a board member of the Linda Vista Planning Group, it was never easy for me to be in that space. It was uncomfortable, but it allowed me to see the way our community was represented, or in this case, misrepresented. It did not stop me from asking the questions my neighbors had, or oppose motions that did not reflect our neighborhood and my people.

In my attempts to amplify our voice, and bring justice to our community, I noticed that the civic bodies in place were just not for us. It didn’t matter how hard we worked, if our voice is not being reflected in these spaces, we continue to stay stuck in the cycle of poverty, without equitable access to the places where decisions are made.

This is why I am running for San Diego City Council District 7. I am tired of Career Politicians, and I am tired of people who do not reflect the voice of our people. I don’t want this seat to be occupied by someone who doesn’t reflect our realities, and can’t act with our sense or urgency. I am stepping into this race to bring power back to our communities, for us by us. Our Councilmember should not be making decisions for us without proper community consensus. We cannot only rely on local civic bodies that do not include the voice of all. We need genuine community partnership. As your Councilmember the work that I have been doing in our community for years will only be amplified on the City level, for all the people in our District. This campaign is not for me, but for everyone in District 7 to be heard, claim our identity, and our place in San Diego.

Along with my life experience, my work experience has always been at the community front line.

 

Human Service Specialist, County of San Diego Health and Human Services

Substance Abuse Counselor, McAlister Institute East County Regional Recovery Center

Substance Abuse Counselor, HIV/AIDS Services Family Health Centers.

Case Manager, The Salvation Army Door Of Hope Transitional Housing Program

Intake Specialist, Jewish Family Services

 


Let’s Build Our Future Now,

Sharon Larios