Jack Roosevelt Robinson was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the spring of 1947. He faced a nation beleaguered at the conclusion of a war, and one as yet unready to confront the deep racial injustice it lived by. Few people could have imagined that this unknown rookie would change history. Armed with only his character, integrity and talent, Robinson's quiet leadership and extraordinary courage moved us forward, and made us a better nation.
It is rare that a leader with these qualities emerges -- and rarer still in the political arena. Today, we have such a leader in San Diego mayoral candidate David Alvarez.
Like Jackie, David's character was forged through adversity. Both are the youngest of large families that absorbed the bruising impact of working poverty. Jackie was raised by a single mother who cleaned houses for a living; David the son of a fast food worker and a janitor. Both broke the cycle of poverty through education and achievement. Jackie narrowly missed graduation from UCLA, and went on to professional sports. David was the first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to earn a college degree.
Their courage and talent enabled them to defy the odds.
When Jackie donned his uniform and stepped onto Brooklyn's baseball diamond, he was greeted with unrelenting verbal attacks and physical intimidation. Few people thought he would succeed, fewer still wanted him to. Yet he played, and played brilliantly -- scoring 12 home runs, leading the league in stolen bases, helping his team win the National League pennant and winning Rookie of the Year.
When David first ran for city council, he faced brother of the outgoing incumbent along with his familiar last name. He was up against a political alliance that invested more than $100,000 to try to defeat him. Few thought he could win. Many didn't want him to. Undeterred, David ran anyway -- and his campaign was historic. His commitment to neighborhood investment, education and the environment attracted crowds of volunteers and resonated with voters. He won with 57 percent of the vote, and inspired the highest turnout ever for a council election in his district.
As a councilmember, David has also lived up to his promise, executing his inclusive vision for the city. He chairs the council's committee on environmental issues -- where he has taken action on climate change, industrial pollution, and renewable energy. He has fought to rebuild our city from the neighborhoods out -- funding more than 100 miles of road repair, increasing investment in police and fire protection and keeping libraries open longer. He was "the closer" in budget negotiations that eliminated a $47 million budget gap, while still protecting vital city services. He did all this with full transparency -- and engaged his constituents directly by sending his staff to get their input door to door.
If there were a Rookie of the Year award -- he'd have earned it.
When Brooklyn took a chance on Jackie Robinson, he took the team to a World Series victory. More importantly, his example had an impact far beyond his play.
David Alvarez is San Diego's Jackie Robinson -- a paragon of character and integrity, whose quiet leadership of deeds rather than words seeks neither credit nor acclaim. He could be San Diego's first Latino mayor -- a barrier long overdue to be broken. More than that, his talent and courage have the potential to make him a transcendent leader. San Diego, long weary of political scandal and impropriety needs a leader like David -- and he needs your vote.
Laura Fink is the founder of the San Diego-based consulting firm Fink & Hernandez Consulting, LLC, specializing in politics, civic engagement and public policy. She was the second woman to come forward in the scandal involving former Mayor Bob Filner. She is not employed by any mayoral candidate or independent expenditure committee.
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