SAN DIEGO — Kelvin Barrios, a labor leader and former policy adviser to City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, launched his campaign Thursday to succeed his former boss as the representative of District 9.
Barrios serves as the director of policy and community engagement with Laborers International Union of North America Local 89. Previously, he was an adviser and council representative in Gomez’s office. In announcing his bid for the seat, he stressed his lifelong residence in the district and his experience as a community organizer and advocate. “I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact inequity and lack of opportunity has had on people’s lives and how it’s prevented our communities from reaching their full potential,” Barrios said in a statement.
A host of other potential candidates either plan to jump into the race or, in Barrios’ case, already have after Gomez made a surprise announcement last weekend that she would run for the 53rd District congressional seat that opened earlier this month when Rep. Susan Davis announced that she would forego seeking re-election.
Gomez, the council president, arguably has become the most powerful Democrat in the city since being elected to the dais in 2016. Since then, she has become the chair of the Metropolitan Transit System Board and has overseen a Democratic supermajority on the technically nonpartisan council.
Both council District 9 and the 53rd Congressional District are considered safely blue seats as registration for Democrats outpaces Republican and Independent registration in both. Gomez also was considered a lock to be re- elected, facing a handful of longshot candidates who lacked Gomez’s support from local labor organizations before her announcement.
San Diego Community College District Trustee Sean Elo and former community college district candidate Kevin Alston also have filed to run for the seat and more are expected to follow with only six months until the March 2020 primary.
The top two candidates in the primary will move on to the general election.
The district includes eastern sections of the city, including City Heights, Kensington, Rolando, Talmadge and the San Diego State University area.
“I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of early support for this campaign. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to engaging with and learning from residents, business owners, youth, civic leaders and other stakeholders in the community to help me develop a platform that best serves the community to create a city government that works for everybody,” Barrios said.