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Juan del Río the Don Quixote in race for County Supervisor

Created: 28 May, 2010
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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6 min read

 

Juan del Río candiate for County Supervisor

    The story of Don Quixote is that of a man who takes up the chivalrous ideals touted in books he has read to take up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. In the race for County Supervisor, District 4, Juan del Río very much fits the Quixote imagery of the forlorn knight tilting against the windmills.

    Taking the Don Quixote analogy a little further there is even a physical resemblance between the Quixote character and del Río. Both are in their late fifties, both are tall and thin, and del Río has the same facial appearance with the slight mustache, a goatee, with a receding hairline. He is the spitting image of Quixote.

    The windmill that Juan del Río stands before is the daunting task of defeating a popular incumbent County Supervisor, Ron Roberts (the wicked), in a race where incumbents never lose. Del Río has no name recognition, no organization, and no money. If this is not the impossible dream!

    Juan Del Río, if elected, will defend the homeless and fight for affordable housing for county residents. These issues are the focus of his campaign.

    Del Río is one of four Democrats challenging Roberts. Even among the challengers del Río is third on the list. The two challengers with the most support, name identity, and money are Stephen Whitburn, who most recently ran for San Diego city council, and Shelia Jackson, who is a San Diego Unified School Board Trustee. Del Río is helped by the fact that Margret Moody, the fourth challenger, is not actively campaigning.

    Despite the long odds del Río is not the least bit discouraged. He and his wife, Jeeni, came into our offices still enthusiastic and ready to go after a long Saturday of campaigning. So we asked him: why you are running?

    “After I saw Assemblymember Lori Saldaña drop out of the race and there was no else stepping up to challenge Roberts I told myself this wasn’t right and decided to run for office,” stated del Río.

    “I am running as a Latino candidate, and as I see it, it is my job to get as many Latino voters out there to vote for a Latino candidate,” stated del Río. “Not just any Latino but a qualified Latino.”

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    Juan is a graduate of UCSD in Urban and Rural Development/Planning and earned his MA in Urban Development.

   Juan identifies himself as a Chicano working with the Chicano movement in the 60s and 70s with community members like Tina CdeBaca, Carlos LeGrette, Rachel Ortiz, and Herman Baca of the Committee on Chicano Rights. He was a MEChAista at SDSU and worked with the Junta Directiva which was the board of directors for all the Chicano Studies Department at SDSU. 

   “I have a rich history in the Chicano community, like all of us, as responsible Chicanos, we worked with the United Farm Workers and secondary boycott trying to do whatever we could to change the status quo,” described del Río. “And I have been marching on from that point.”

   Juan marched on to become executive director for Casa de Servicios/San Ysidro Urban Council where he developed and negotiated contracts with the County of San Diego for  senior services, and presented a housing proposal to the City of San Diego for Site Acquisition funds. From this the Villa Mercedes Senior Housing were built. He worked for the Chicano Federation, and with the San Diego Youth and Community Services all as a housing specialist.

   Juan went on to become the housing development director for City Heights Community Dev. Corp., San Diego and housing and community development representative for the State of California, Dept. of Housing and Community Development. And in 2000 he went to Washington to become program coordinator for Community Development for the National Puerto Rican Coalition.

   35 years of community service working with the community, seniors, and the youth Juan had gone full circle and was back in San Diego where he now works part-time at the Bayside Community Center as the Comprehensive Housing Counseling Project Manager with Bayside Community Center and works as a visiting teacher in San Diego school district teaching ESL students and special education.

   There is no doubt that housing, in particular affordable housing is del Río’s strong suit, but he also brings a progressive perspective to the role of county government.

   “I think the primary job of government, especially county government, is social services, health services, public safety issues, and representing the public,” stated del Río. “What I see happening is all this focus on the private model is the best model and all these Ron Roberts types on the board of supervisors are going the privatization route and let’s forget about our oath to work for the public. So this is why I am in the race for Supervisor, to bring back representation for the people.”

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   “There is a legislative policy M59 which is entitled ‘Illegal Immigration from the County Board of Supervisors’ that advocates a constitutional amendment that would deny citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented parents. That is on the books. That is the first thing I would do, to knock that out of there, to bring it up to hearing, as a matter of fact I might not wait till I get elected. I might not wait till then!”

   “On other issues, with the $2 million dollar fund that each Supervisor gets to spend with no restriction on what they can do with that money,” continued del Río. “I would make it a level playing field and do an RFP that would be fair to all the non-profits. The issue with the in-home support services, I am dismayed with the way the county is dealing with this issue. The recipients have been cut back, fewer are receiving less service. The United Domestic workers, they are getting paid $13.10 per hour but are only getting $9.10 per hour after administrative services are deducted. The workers are getting ripped-off. That has got to stop. These people are barely making it as it is. I would revisit all that.”

   Lastly, “I would deal with the homeless issue, we have to take responsibility for it.”

   Juan del Río our modern day Don Quixote fighting the good fight to bring about change. The odds are long, but del Río is determined! Who knows with the anti-incumbent attitude in recent elections and with the renewed look for new ideas and fresh ideas, del Río just may have an opportunity here!

   To find out more about Juan del Río you can visit his campaign web site at: www.delRio4Supervisor.com

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