Dwayne Crenshaw believes his track record and experience in the community makes him the best candidate for the job
City of San Diego, District 4, Special Election:
By Daniel Muñoz
The political roadmap for Dwayne Crenshaw has been a tough one to say the least, having run for office on five different occasions and coming up short in each of those campaigns. This is his third effort to win the seat for District 4.
For the residents of District 4 the Crenshaw name is a familiar one. In 2002 Crenshaw came in second losing to Charles Lewis and after Lewis suddenly died in 2004 Crenshaw ran again, failing to make the runoff, with Tony Young the eventual winner. He has also run for Assembly in 2000. In 2008, he ran for San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees.
Running for political office is a deeply personal decision and no matter how thick you may think your skin is, each political loss is difficult, something you do not get over quickly. For Dwayne in 2002 he had to endure being, wrongly, accused of being a drug dealer. In 2004 he was outed as a gay man in a letter printed in the UT, at the time he had not even told his parents. Those are some tough campaigns, after which most folks would just leave politics.
But for Dwayne Crenshaw public service is in his blood, but it was with his father’s support, and advice, that put this race in perspective for him.
“My father told me, when I was thinking about running, he said, if you are ready to go through this and if you won’t cry and don’t get broken by it then I am behind you,” stated Dwayne. “The point was, keep your head up. That was his bottom line, despite what people will say or the attacks you will face, you know where your heart is and what you are doing.”
Crenshaw made the decision to run again.
“I love this community, I care, and I hope to give something back,” stated Crenshaw. “I have lived in the district for 37 years, my family lives in the district. I have a real passion and I like to think I have something to offer with my experience and my education. I can make a difference in a community that has been short changed for far too long.”
“I am the homegrown kid that has done well and I have chosen to stay in the community, when a lot of folks have chosen to leave,” continued Crenshaw.
The desire to serve the community burns deep within Crenshaw and is reflected in the jobs and projects he has been involved with over the years.
Crenshaw graduated from SDSU where he majored in elementary education and taught at San Diego Unified School District. His teaching career was short lived after he was chosen for the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship, serving in Sacramento, where he was immersed in the legislative process. While there, he completed a master’s degree in government at Sacramento State University. He returned to San Diego, and enrolled into California Western School of Law and earned his Jurist Doctorate degree.
Crenshaw’s work has been almost exclusively in District 4, including serving as Executive Director of the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils, an umbrella group of community organizations. As Director of Government Relations and Community Ownership for the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. He presently works as executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride, on leave to run for office.
The issues and problems of District 4 are obvious and plentiful from jobs, economic development, infrastructure, and crime, and Crenshaw in one way or another has already played a role in addressing many of these problems. He believes that this distinguishes himself from his opponent.
Crenshaw’s platform includes a three point plan: Jobs, Education, and Safety.
Jobs: Crenshaw points to his work as Jacobs’ director of government relations helping to develop Market Creek Plaza, bringing more than 2,500 jobs; Hire-A-Youth funding for south-east San Diego; creating neighborhood jobs to assist gang-affilated, dropout and at-risk youth. Once elected, he plans to double the number of minority and woman contractors within the city.
Education: At one time Dwayne was an educator, which helps him in understanding the trials and tribulations of education. He also understands the difficulties of getting a good education, having gone through the process of earning his Masters and Jurist Doctorate degree, which lead to his plan to establish a guaranteed-admission program to San Diego State University and raise $250,000 for a new nonprofit district education fund.
Safety: He has a four point plan for safety.
– Change the idea that snitching is not okay, get rid of that culture. Get violent kids off the streets by sharing what we know.
– Get it Together, which is where we all have to present ourselves in a way that shows that we respect ourselves, and others. If we get tagged we have to clean it up; we can’t park our cars on the lawn, we have to maintain our yards, just show respect for our community.
– Find funding for a year round gun buy back program and get some of those guns off the street.
– And the last piece is, what I have already done, and that is I have spent four years working with high school drop-outs, and gang affliated kids.
Crenshaw also pointed out that he will ensure that the San Diego Police will not enforce federal laws, which he describes as an important step in building trust within the Latino community.
Dwayne Crenshaw has built an impressive resume over the years, but it was not without it bumps in the road, starting with the outing of his sexual preference being the biggest bump so far.
In 2009 he was fired as executive director from the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils, there were a lot of accusations and eventually Crenshaw sued, claiming he was fired for his sexual orientation. This case was settled out of court with the Coalition having to pay him an undisclosed sum of money. The bottom line on this one is that after his leaving the Coalition has fallen on hard times with financial and organizational issues.
It appears that now those road bumps are in his rearview mirror. This past week five of the seven candidates who were in the primary election came out in support of Crenshaw, including Blanca Lopez-Brown the only Hispanic in the race. The consensus was that Crenshaw was from the community and would serve in the best interest of the community. Or, as Barry Pollard put it, “It’s a political machine versus a community’s interest.”
Crenshaw ended the interview with these final thoughts:
“You can really tell what we are going to do by what we have already done, and I have a real record. If it is on Market Creek Plaza, which is the one thing folks are proud of, I was there. It was working with high school gang youth, dropout youth, creating jobs, I have done that with Hire-A-Youth, and I fought for that funding. On education, we fought for Millennial Tech when the school board was going to put it somewhere else. That is just some of what I have done. I have a consistent record of serving the community.”