By Edward Henderson
On Friday, August 25th, San Diego non-profit Paving Great Futures hosted their monthly ‘LACED’ (Leadership and Civic Engagement Development) series at Voice and Viewpoint’s offices. Events occur on the last Saturday of every month. Former City Council President Tony Young was led a discussion with community members on how to navigate the local political system.
“There is a structure in government,” said Young. “Elected officials are supposed to manage the structure on the local state and federal levels. There are other entities locally (businesses, individuals with large incomes, ect.) that have interests these officials are responsive to, sometimes more so than their community. But community, if organized the right way, can push elected officials to do the right thing.”
Young was elected to represent San Diego’s fourth council district on January 4, 2005, in a special election held after the unexpected death of the incumbent council member, Charles L. Lewis III, in August 2004. Young had been Lewis’s chief of staff. Young was easily reelected in the 2006 election and the 2010 election.
In December 2010 Young was unanimously elected by the other council members to serve as San Diego City Council President. He immediately promised changes in how the City Council operates, including more openness to the public and a primary focus on the city’s budget problems, saying. He also chaired City Council’s Rules Committee, Open Government and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.
In November 2012 he announced his intention to resign from the City Council to become CEO of the San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter of the American Red Cross. He currently is the President and Co-Founder of RISE San Diego, a non-profit that develops urban leadership.
One of the tactics Young shared in his presentation was encouraging people to create a ‘Political Power Wheel’. The wheel is a diagram that puts an important issue in the center and organizations that community members have personal relationships with that are also concerned with that issue go around it. The exercise is meant to illustrate how personal relationships can be mobilized towards a consistent effort to put pressure on local officials to be responsive to the wants and needs of the community.
“People don’t realize that their relationships are really helpful if you want to move things. While trying to get policy done or ordinances to pass, your relationships are valuable as far as moving an issue forward. Your church, grandparents, friends that work in government, all those people are relations that you can use to mobilize and actually make changes.”
Paving Great Futures will hold their next edition of LACED on Saturday, September 30th discussing Community Leadership and Engagement. Visit Paving Great Futures on Facebook for more information.