SAN DIEGO — Mail-in voting is now underway in the special election for the 80th Assembly District, covering much of southern San Diego as well as the South Bay.
This race will choose a replacement for former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who stepped down in January to head the the California Labor Federation.
"I'm really concerned with the future of the state and where it's going," said Democrat David Alvarez, who was born and raised in the Barrio Logan area.
Now living in Logan Heights, the former social worker served on San Diego's City Council from 2010 to 2018.
"The last two years have been really tough for kids in our schools," Alvarez told CBS 8, adding that educational opportunity at all levels is one of his top priorities, including funding for a new state university in the South Bay.
"Kids in community colleges are waiting for seats, San Diego State is impacted," said Alvarez. "It's hard to get in. We need more seats in our college university system, and I want to get that done as soon as I get to Sacramento."
Alvarez also supports a pause on the gas tax to provide relief for working families and is pushing for innovative ways to help the homeless, including investing more in mental health and substance abuse treatment.
"Not just in jail for 72 hours, three days, and then they're back out on the streets," Alvarez explained, "But in actual facilities where they can get the care that they need to get them back on their feet so they can actually be successful and get out of the streets."
"I'm ready to continue working toward improving quality of life," said Democrat Georgette Gomez, who was also born and raised in Barrio Logan, where she now lives.
A longtime community organizer, she served on the San Diego City Council from 2016 to 2020, and has been endorsed by former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.
An environmental advocate, she is also focused on addressing the gas crisis.
"I'm the only candidate who has been working diligently in making sure that we're creating an alternative system through improving our transit system, which will lead us to reducing our dependence on foreign oil," she told CBS 8.
Gomez said she'll fight for more funding for schools and universal health care, and is passionate about creating more affordable housing, backing a streamlined permitting process.
"It's very critical hat we address the housing crisis and more importantly that we are building and supporting housing that will be affordable for residents in the South Bay," Gomez added.
"I'm going to be out there fighting for the people," said Lincoln Pickard, the sole Republican running in the 80th.
The Palm City resident, who's run unsuccessfully for the seat in the past, wants to address rising gas prices by drilling for oil in California.
"If they opened the oil in California and pulled it out of the ground the way we're supposed to, the price of gas would be two dollars a gallon," he told CBS 8.
His campaign is also focused on water conservation; protecting the rights of the unborn; and re-allocating education funding.
"What we need to do is have some school choice, so the parents can choose where they send their kids, the money needs to follow those kids, and when the competition is out there, we're going to get better education for our children," Pickard added.
This special election will be held on Tuesday, April 5.
If any of the three candidates gets a majority of the votes, they will win the seat outright, serving out the remainder of Gonzalez's term through December. If not, there will be a runoff election in June.
For more information on this upcoming special election, click here.
WATCH RELATED: Bill credits coming for SDG&E San Diego customers (March 2022)