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An interview with 2020 San Diego mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson

San Diegans will choose a new mayor on Tuesday, November 3. Hear what the candidates had to say.

SAN DIEGO — News 8 sat down in January 2020 with Tasha Williamson, a current executive for a nonprofit who is now running for San Diego Mayor. We asked her multiple questions that are important to San Diegans. 

They included: 

  • One of the biggest issues in San Diego is the housing crisis. Whether it is a shortage of inventory or residents being priced out of the market. What is your plan to deal with this issue? 
  • What do you see as the biggest issue right now with San Diego’s infrastructure? What is your plan to improve the overall quality of San Diego’s infrastructure?  
  • Climate change is an important issue for many San Diegans. Where can San Diego improve when combatting climate change?  
  • How will you deal with the differences and the particular needs of San Diegans when it comes to the White House’s policies on immigration and the border? 
  • Why should San Diegans vote for you?

Check out the full interview with Tasha Williamson. A full transcription can be found below. 

Tasha Williamson (D)

Carlo Cecchetto [00:00:00] I'm Carlo Cecchetto, joined today by Tasha Williamson, who is running for the mayor of San Diego. Thanks for being here today.

Tasha Williamson [00:00:06] Thank you so much for having me.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:00:07] It's a pleasure. I'm just gonna get right into it. San Diego has a housing crisis like the rest of California. There is housing is too expensive and there's not enough available. We're seeing more people leaving San Diego as well as more people being forced out onto the streets. How are you going to solve that?

[00:00:25] I'm glad you asked that question. [00:00:27]I think that one of the ways to solve it is that we definitely look at permanent housing as the first choice vs. the solutions that they have for homelessness, which is shelters in transition, transitional housing. I think that is not working here in San Diego. And it is also something that we need to look at when we look at the four cities here in the nation that have ended homelessness. But also when we look at nations that have thought about the middle class and working class and they have become landlords, and so they have actually driven down the prices of rent as becoming landlords, as city government. And that is something that we need to do. We have plenty of land and buildings that we have the resources to actually build housing for middle class, working-class individuals as well as low-income individuals that we become landlords. And we show the city how to be inclusive of everyone and to make sure that we are not violating United Nations laws and that we are thinking of everyone with dignity and respect and providing housing and the things that people need as a right to them. [64.7s]

Carlo Cecchetto [00:01:32] So I think it's a we have the resources. This is an allocation of resources issue for housing and homelessness.

Tasha Williamson [00:01:38] Oh, definitely. I think that between county, federal, state and local dollars and resources, we have the resources here that we can actually utilize those resources and we can start to build housing on city land. We can start to renovate buildings on city land and provide housing for people that need it.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:01:57] Is like a specific example, other property that, you know, that could be converted easily and.

Tasha Williamson [00:02:02] I mean, we could have converted the skydiving center into housing. We could convert City Hall. People are actually moving out of City Hall to move into the new SDG&E building that we purchased. And so City Hall, unfortunately, has asbestos, but we can convert that into housing. We already have a shelter there, but it's in poor conditions. And I think that we need to treat people with dignity and respect and we need to make sure that they have homes.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:02:30] All right, Mayor Faulconer has touted his road repairs as his big infrastructure initiative and a big success. His office is presenting it as such. What do you see as a big infrastructure challenge out there and what would you do about it?

Tasha Williamson [00:02:45] [00:02:45]Yeah, I think that we've been played by Mayor Faulconer. I think that many of the roads that he fixed were not done correctly. And we're going to find ourselves having to go back and repave some of those roads. I think we need to have infrastructure maintenance in place so that we clear it and clean it and fix it one time and we're done and move on to the next one. I think one of the things we need to do is have a department where we're looking at audits and we're looking at money and we're looking at where are some of the hardest hit conditions in roads that we need to start to repair right away, because we've had sinkholes like in SE on Imperial and those things. We need to avoid that over time. And we need to make sure that our pipes, not only our roads, but our pipes are good so that we don't have flooding like we did here recently. [48.5s] Clean, you know, fixing a road and then having it flooded. We need to do those things. [00:03:39]We need to be serious about the business of running the city. And I think that we have not been that we've allocated funds where they didn't need to go. We've done things without oversight and management and we need to change that here in the city. [10.9s] And so that will be a priority of mine.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:03:54] So it sounds to me like it's not that the roads were a problem as a target, that there's a more fundamental process issue and how we do all of our infrastructure.

Tasha Williamson [00:04:02] That is correct. We will be looking at infrastructure maintenance, and that is one of my priorities and a vision for the city, making sure that not only do we have roads that are maintained, but we have even the underneath structures, infrastructure, which is the pipes, the lines that are being put in there, that those are also maintained so that we're not kind of going back and forth to fix and repair things over a five year period. As we've done is it's millions of dollars that we're spending. It's the taxpayers dollars. I think we need to spend it wisely. I think that we need to also be transparent about how we're doing it and not placate to the masses with media in fixing roads that did not need to be repaired like we did in La Jolla.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:04:52] So no bandaids, no real fundamental changes in what our infrastructure is.

Tasha Williamson [00:04:58] Yes, indeed.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:05:01] Climate change. It's an issue a lot of people in San Diego care about. We have a city action plan for it. There's a lot that can be done to address it. We talked about housing. It's kind of related. Well, what are we not doing well? And what more can we do in the city of San Diego to further achieve climate change goals?

Tasha Williamson [00:05:23] [00:05:23]My first priority is going to be to the bottom districts. Those districts that have been de-invested in over decades in this city and have the worst climate in the history of San Diego. I think that we just had -or- saw electric buses that were put out on the streets. And that's amazing. But as far as environmental justice, it means that those electric buses should have been put in the areas hardest hit by climate change so that we could have changed some of the impact that the current buses are doing. [31.8s] I think, again, building. I'm sorry, not building, but planting trees. [00:06:00]We need to plant trees by the millions in districts four, eight, and nine. Those districts have an alarming rate of carbon and other particles in the air, as we've seen when you go over those districts. There's like a gray tent, not like other districts that you go across and you can kind of see a clear sky. [18.1s] These are things that we need to change. We need to change them immediately. We can't wait another five years for those changes. [00:06:27]We have children that have a higher rate of asthma. The mortality rate is less for people who live in those three districts. They will die sooner than anyone in any other districts. And so that is an issue. It is an issue about, you know, human beings. This is about people's lives. [17.0s] And, you know, across this platform, we've had people talk about scooters and bikes and vacation rentals more than they've really talked about what's really impacting people's lives and the districts that are hit the hardest. Environmental justice says that we should start with the districts that are impacted the most and this city has not done that. And the environmental justice activists have not forced the issue either.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:07:07] Sounds like, you know, when you look in media coverage, etc., there is a lot of focus when it comes to climate on an environment. We can talk about both those things together. Air pollution, a lot on our coastal region and the ocean. It sounds like that you really want to make sure we start focusing on the places that are inland a little bit. That aren't maybe tourist destinations it's just where people live.

Tasha Williamson [00:07:30] Well, when it when it comes to air quality. Yes. When it comes to ocean quality, I think that we need to work with our neighbors in Mexico to make sure that any of the water that's coming over, that they can clean it on their side and we can clean it on our side when it pushes further in that they're getting cleaner water because we're cleaning it on both sides. I think that we also need to look at other mechanisms to clean the ocean as well, putting more seaweed and kelp in the ocean, which actually takes in toxins. We need to do things that are natural to the ocean so that we're not damaging the ocean. We're getting ready to potentially build on water, and that's going to damage the ecosystems there with the convention center. And so people aren't really thinking about that. This city really talks a good game about environmental and caring about environments. But then they do things that are damaging to it.

Carlo Cecchetto [00:08:27] This is kind of an interesting one to me. Mayor Faulconer has kind of a complicated relationship with the White House. He's a Republican, but it's not necessarily a friendly thing. How would you navigate those waters? Because San Diego, the border. The border is certainly a target for the White House and we're a border city.

Tasha Williamson [00:08:43] Yeah. You know, Trump discourse is not the enemy. I think that we've sat down and after you've seen me sit down with many people who didn't agree with the things that we agreed with, being that this would be a city that I'm running. [00:09:00]I would sit down with the president of the United States and talk to him and help him to understand or not understand. You know, we we may walk away on different, different eyes, but let him know that we have to be, you know, as he says, Christians. And in doing that, that means that we take care of one another, that we support one another, that we love one another, that we take in our neighbors and that we feed and clothe them. And so that is not something that I've heard this president talk about. I've not even heard him quote the Bible when he speaks. And so I would just push back on Christians in the United States, in San Diego, who backed this president and say that he is not backing the teachings of Jesus Christ and Christianity. And so we should push back and I would push back and I will run this city to make sure that we are reflective of love and neighbors and kindness because we are all brothers and sisters here and we must all take care of one another. [58.8s]

Carlo Cecchetto [00:10:01] All right. One minute. You know, there are people out there who may not have seen you before, don't know you. Why should they vote for you for mayor of the city of San Diego?

Tasha Williamson [00:10:12] So I want to just say my name is Tasha Williamson. And [00:10:15]the reason why you should vote for me is because I am very different from every other career politician. I'm not here to placate and give empty promises. And I can't be bought, borrowed or sold. I'm here because I want to end homelessness. I want to put in infrastructure maintenance. I want to make sure that people are taking care of over profits. I want to ensure that businesses are thriving. And we bring back economic growth to the city, that people have jobs and they have the resources that they need. If you want someone like that, I would say vote for me because I will be the mayor that does that. If you do not and you want to continue, then continue to be played by the people that have been career politicians and show you that they are empty promises that they're giving you and that they are not going to change anything for all of us. [41.9s]

Carlo Cecchetto [00:10:58] Tasha Williamson, thank you so much for spending time for us. You're running for mayor.

Tasha Williamson [00:11:01] Yes, I am. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure. Pleasure.

To see the interviews with the six other candidates, click here.

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