La prensa

Serge Dedina, candidate for IB mayor , wants more Latino participation

Created: 05 September, 2014
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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4 min read

Serge Dedina
Serge Dedina

If you take a look at the Imperial Beach City Council website, you will notice that there’s not a single councilmember with a Spanish last name, even when Latinos represent half of the city’s population.

Although Serge Dedina is not Latino, either, the Imperial Beach mayoral candidate in the November elections said he has many things in common with Latinos in this coastal city: He is fluent in Spanish, he grew up in the eastern part of the city, and he’s the son of immigrants.

Latinos, in his view, have not been well represented by incumbent mayor, Jim Janney, in recent years.

“Over the past eight years, Latinos, who make up about half of the residents of Imperial Beach, and the majority of the residents in the city, have effectively had no mayoral representation at all,” Dedina said. “The current mayor, Jim Janney, has little interest in working with and for our very diverse community. Unfortunately, the Latino residents of IB, like many of our residents, have been excluded from participating in our civic institutions and city government in Imperial Beach. Little or no effort has been made by two-term Mayor Jim Janney to involve our Latino population at any level in city affairs.”

This, in fact, is one of the reasons Dedina said he is trying to become mayor.

“I am running for mayor because as a 43-year resident of Imperial Beach I believe it is critical to have a mayor who will treat all of our residents equally and fairly and make sure that they are invited to help to improve our community and especially the well-being of kids and families,” he said.

Dedina said that, historically, Latinos, who mainly live in the east and north sides of Imperial Beach, have been neglected.

“These are the areas that have historically received the least amount of city investment and are woefully underserved,” he said. “I am running for mayor because I think it is imperative that we invest in all of our neighborhoods in Imperial Beach equally and fairly and that we make sure that kids and families and our community come first.”

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As mayor, Dedina said he would implement several changes at city hall to make sure Latinos are included in decisions being made in the city, including creating more citizen advisory boards, establishing Neighborhood Advisory Councils, and even exploring the idea of creating city council district.

“We must make an extra effort to invite the Latino community to participate in these new boards and commissions,” he said.

Although speaking Spanish is not a guarantee that he will get the Latino vote, Dedina said that it is an advantage he has over the incumbent mayor.

“Speaking Spanish will be a big help in this effort because the Latino community needs to have a mayor who makes it clear that everyone is welcome at City Hall and that everyone’s voice matters,” he said. “We have a lot of folks who feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and participating in the process if they can do it in Spanish. I speak Spanish just about every day in Imperial Beach and I have found it invaluable to speak Spanish on the campaign trail so that I can learn more about the issues of concern to the Latino community.”

As co-founder and executive director of WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, a non-profit environmental organization where 80 percent of the staff is Latino, Dedina has had a long relationship with Latino communities in San Diego County, and with many coastal cities across the border in Mexico.

Dedina points out that there are many issues in Imperial Beach that need immediate attention. Among those are little representation and investment in neighborhoods, little interest from the city council in working with diverse communities, and more fiscal accountability.

Dedina, an avid surfer with a doctorate in geography, said he will defeat the incumbent mayor because he’s running a grassroots campaign that highlights speaking to voters face-to-face and on social media.

“My positive and inclusive message is attracting lots of support and frankly, most voters seem to believe that it is time to have a mayor who believes in working for and with our community, and that it is time for a change,” he said.
And to bring positive change to Imperial Beach, Dedina said, Latinos have to be a major part of it.

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“I’m running for Mayor of Imperial Beach because I love my hometown and as a first-generation American I have a profound and deep love for our democracy and I believe that everyone counts and everyone should be treated fairly and equally,” he said.

To learn more about Serge Dedina and his campaign, please www.sergeforibmayor.com. If you have questions or comments or would like to meet with Dedina, or volunteer for his campaign, contact him at sergededina@gmail.com.

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