Why I Love Imperial Beach and Why I am Running for Mayor

Serge Dedina with Emily, his wife of 25 years, and sons Israel (18) and Daniel (16).
Serge Dedina with Emily, his wife of 25 years, and sons Israel (18) and Daniel (16).

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 sdedina@sbcglobal.net and or www.facebook.com/serge4IBMayor.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Fenske January 24, 2014 at 01:05 AM
Our dear leader has set the bar so low it won't take a huge lift to do better than the incumbent.
Pop Quiz January 26, 2014 at 05:58 PM
Steve you cracked me up with that very true statement :-) Before Serge tossed his hat in the ring, your choices were; Punch in the forehead OR vote for Janney
Chico&The Man January 26, 2014 at 08:14 PM
Serge is 100% IB ...janeys a cross between Assad and Noriega
Pat P January 26, 2014 at 11:59 PM
You have my vote. The city needs you, and glad you decided to run.
Marina Andriola January 27, 2014 at 07:33 PM
You have my vote, too Serge! Anybody who loves the ocean and thrift stores and understands how both contribute to a healthy ecology and the future health of the Earth has my support! I'm a new tax-paying resident and voter relocated here to IB from 30+ years in coastal Sonoma, and I'd already read a lot about Serge’s great work on the coast. I'd also like to see: 1) a ban on plastic bags and non-recyclable styrofoam take out boxes. (The havoc they create for sea life is unforgivable!) 2) a way to recycle plastic bags without driving them somewhere 3) non-motorized boat access to Dolphin Bay on the north side of town via a well thought out, environmentally safe plan (Pond 20).


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