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A good week for Hispanic appointments

Created: 11 January, 2013
Updated: 26 July, 2022
3 min read


After our most recent elections this past November, one element has stood out and has been talked about, dissected, and analyzed: the impact of the Hispanic vote.

This political discussion is vital and is an important piece in the continued growth of the Hispanic community. Another vital piece of the puzzle is the appointment process.

In years past, the Hispanic vote has played a vital role in political wins and losses, but the reward, if you will, has been lacking. Hispanics, in particular Hispanic politicians, which include aides, staffers, and supporters, had been overlooked when it came to crucial or high profile appointments. This lack of recognition or respect has left many Hispanics with the sense of being taken for granted by the powers to be.

Newly elected mayor for the City of San Diego, Bob Filner, who more than anyone has the Hispanic community to thank for not only his mayoral victory but for his many years of elections in the South Bay, stepped up to the plate and recognized the support of the Hispanic community by appointing eight Hispanics to his staff. This is a welcomed change.

The staff appointments include Nelson Hernandez who will be the Assistant Chief Operating Officer and at the same time the highest paid staffer. Francisco Estrada, Director of Council Affairs. Mario Lopez, the new Director of Bi-National Affairs, will be tasked with establishing an office in Tijuana. Bert Luna, Assistant to the Mayor, Brenda Lugo, Director of Scheduling. Jessica Gomez, Protocol Officer, Waynee Lucero, Mayoral Assistant, and in a bit of surprise move Filner re-hired long time aide Al Alvarado, who had considered retiring, as Community Outreach.

Another important appointment was that of attorney Rafael Castellanos to the San Diego Unified Port District. Castellanos was nominated by City Councilman David Alvarez.

Castellanos, who is a partner at the law firm Solomon Minton Cardinal Doyle & Smith, has the distinction of taking law courses at the University of Chicago from then State Senator, professor Barrack Obama. Obama took an interest in Castellanos and advised him on his final Immigration Reform writing project.

Castellanos serves as the President of the San Diego La Raza Latino/Latina Bar Association and serves on the board and legal council to MANA – a non-profit National Women’s organization with a mission to assist Latinas by providing them with skills, tools, and support.

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While the Mayor’s appointments and the Port appointment are a positive step, the big news came from the Republican side of the ledger when this past week they announced the hiring Francis Barraza as its new executive director of the Republican Party of San Diego County!

In years past, this sort of hiring by the Republican Party might have been rightly viewed as nothing more than a token hiring, but with today’s reality this represents a significant step by the Republican Party to move away from their image as the good old white boys club and an effort to understand and reach out to the Hispanic community.

Barraza who served as finance director for the GOP and has worked on several campaigns in the region and around the state, including the Yes on G campaign in Chula Vista to ban project labor agreements calling for union-scale wages, and served as a Latino field representative for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman.

With the flexing of Hispanic political power at the polls and with the new wave of appointments which did not include many of the same old faces but some new fresh individuals as potential future leaders, a new day has come for the Hispanic community, one which offers the community a fresh new look at the future.

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