I still remember my first day in Imperial Beach. It was early September 1971. I was seven years old and my family had just moved into our little two-bedroom house in a cul-de-sac on the 1400 block of Hemlock Avenue (just a couple of blocks east of the entrance to Ream Field).
After a long day unloading boxes, my dad loaded up my mother, my little brother Nicky and our dog Shadow into our 1968 Ford Falcon station wagon and we headed to the beach.
I will never forget seeing the Coronado Islands for the first time. I can still picture myself bodysurfing the waves and the elation I felt knowing that I could go to the beach everyday if I wanted to
Like many of my friends I grew up with in our blue collar and diverse neighborhood at the edge of I.B., my family didn’t have much in the way of money. But no one did back then.
The parents of my friends hailed from California, Michigan, Alabama, Wisconsin, Georgia, Maine, Hawaii, Texas, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Germany, England, Philippines, El Salvador, and Argentina. But I don’t remember anyone really commenting too much on our differences. We were all united in our IBness—in our lack of money, our Sears, Commisary and Goodwill clothes and our fierce desire to explore our town and our dedication to each other and to our community.
My friends and I ran, skateboarded and rode our bicycles around our neighborhood, down to the beach, and into the Tijuana River Valley. If we were lucky there’d be freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and cold glasses of milk on a table waiting for us after a long day of whatever adventure we had embarked on.
At the age of 15 while a freshman at Mar Vista, I became active in local beach issues. Brian Bilbray was the mayor back then and he and council member Hazel Bailey (who ran the pier concession stand and bait shop) appointed me to the first-ever I.B. Youth Commission. After I put myself through UCSD while working as an I.B. Lifeguard, I was appointed to the Tidelands Advisory Committee.
In both cases I was proud to be able to contribute in a
small way to the city I loved so deeply. During our committee meetings we worked to to find
common ground to improve our city.
That act of participation was important because “we the people” is not just a theory—it is call of duty that must be continually renewed and given meaning through our participation as active and equal members of our local government.
Unfortunately, over the past eight years the deep connection our community had to our city and the ability of our citizens to contribute in a meaningful way to make our streets safer and our neighborhoods stronger has been eroded.
While the love and bonds within our community for each have
grown deeper, somehow we have been ignored and even forgotten by our city.
We are not welcome to participate in the everyday transactions of our democracy.
And that is why I am running for Mayor. I feel an obligation to work with my friends, neighbors and all of the residents of Imperial Beach to return our town to a time when we were invited to the table.
When our children, family, friends and neighbors were viewed as stakeholders in our future and welcome participants in our democracy.
As I begin this campaign and movement to bring the community back to the City of Imperial Beach I invite everyone who loves our great little beach town to join me.
So that we can work together to build the leadership we need to plan our future and create a community in which everyone is as welcome to participate and feel as proud of our civic duty as I did as a Mar Vista freshman some 35 years ago.
Serge Dedina has lived Imperial Beach for 43 years and is a candidate for Mayor in the November 2014 election and graduated from Mar Vista High School in 1982. He is the author of Saving the Gray Whale and Wild Sea. He can be reached at email@example.com and or www.facebook.com/serge4IBMayor.