City Council candidate and local attorney Erubey Lopez is a Vista business owner who appears very determined to use his unique experiences and education to better the community he grew up in.
As a long-time resident of Vista, Lopez most recently served as a Commissioner on the Parks and Recreation Committee in Vista. Of that experience, he states that he pushed for a pedestrian transit plan, which he believes can relieve some of the congestion many experience traveling from different points here in Vista.
“On a policy agenda, I want to focus on infrastructure, because the older parts of Vista are really lacking infrastructure,” says Lopez, “especially sidewalks.”
Sidewalks and Pedestrian Transit Plan
Later on he also makes another comment regarding the subject. “I think the city should create a pedestrian transit plan so that we can focus on sidewalks and making this more pedestrian-friendly and to deal with the congestion and the growth that we’re getting. “
It might also benefit people who want to walk more, to have those sidewalks, as Lopez says this:
“I think there is really an epidemic of diabetes and obesity. … It is a problem that is ignored.”
Lopez also wishes there were a dedicated Vista Health Department, not just the Vista Community Clinic, so that issues such as which arose on Tuesday evening at the City Council meeting regarding issuing a beer and wine sales permit and the concerns of abuse prevention leaders could be discussed with actual facts about the problem here in the city. He spoke as a concerned member of the public at that meeting, as reported by the Examiner, saying he was “skeptical” of the stated intentions by an applicant.
“Right now the health department of Vista is the Vista clinic,” says Lopez.
UCLA School of Law
Earning his law degree from the UCLA School of Law, Attorney Lopez participated in two prestigious programs: the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program and the Business Law and Policy Program.
While at UCLA, Lopez spent a summer with the San Diego County Public Defenders office here in Vista, according to his website bio. As an intern there, Lopez believes he gained “valuable experience assisting trial attorneys in misdemeanor and DUI cases.”
And while he was given the hope for college as a seventh grade student here in Vista, with a scholarship opportunity from the San Diego Padres who were looking for very bright students who might be considered “at risk” youth for falling into the clutches of gangs and gang activities, Lopez says there were others that were overlooked and had no scholarships for college.
And this seems to influence his concerns for the city and the segments of residents who are looking to be recognized for their talents but remain overlooked.
If he were on city council, Lopez says, one big priority would not even be a policy change. It would be more of what he calls “an attitude and atmosphere change.”
He would examine the hiring statistics and ask the city to “go through its books and see where are we not serving the community.” Lopez aslo states that “Vista is 50% Latino, so how many firefighters are Latino? Vista is 50% Latino, how many of the Moonlight theater employees are Latino? “
Just looking at what the statistics are, he says, is very simple to do. “Somebody just needs to point it out,” Lopez states. “A lot will get done just by that.”
There are many people who would like to volunteer to help, and Lopez believes maybe there should be a Coordinator of Volunteers to facilitate those growing numbers. Out of volunteering, Lopez believes, people are inspired and may find work and new opportunities.
“As a parks and rec commissioner … I also pushed for a civic engagement and volunteer position,” he says. “We have a lot of young people who go to the city hall and want to volunteer or do an internship.”
City Council Internships?
Currently the only committee which the city has for youth to serve on is the Youth Commission, candidate Lopez states. “So if you don’t get in it, then you’re out. There are a lot of students that want to participate, and they want to get involved. Maybe the city council could have interns?”
The opportunity to shadow people in their work and to learn is valuable experience, of course. “Now the schools have a lot of service projects,” Lopez says, “so we have city hall flooded with young people who want to participate and that want to do something.”
The city could benefit too. “If we had a volunteer coordinator at city hall, not only would that help with keeping new people busy, but it would help get the city free work.”
Faith, stewardship, and compassion
As a member of St. Francis Catholic Church here in Vista where he serves on the Justice for Immigrants Ministry, faith is a large part of what drives Attorney Lopez. A sense of stewardship, as well as a compassion for others who struggle in this world, is a big part of his motivations as well.
These things, in addition to an energy and positive outlook, are what have brought him this far in his life despite other factors which could have derailed him and altered his destiny and higher sense of purpose.
“I went to Monte Vista, because we lived in an unincorporated area. I went to school with kids who were better off. We struggled and moved around,” he states regarding his formative years in Vista.
His opportunities grew, however, when he was a seventh grader at Lincoln and the San Diego Padres had college scholarships for middle schoolers identified as being bright “at-risk” youth. “They chose seventh grade because they believed it was an at-risk age.”
Since there were “gang problems” at Lincoln, they wanted to give a college scholarship to “a bright kid who was maybe too bright for his own good and needed a road to escape,” says attorney Lopez who then adds it changed his life.
“So when I was in seventh grade they gave me a college scholarship…. That helped me a lot. Back then the schools were really kind of segregated to be honest with you. We had the blue track, we had the green track, we had the orange track. And pretty much they sent all the Latino kids into orange track. And the education we were getting and the rate of … not graduating was really high and I moved out of that track.”
San Diego Padres, Vista Storm, RBV
Having that Padres scholarship for college in seventh grade and playing soccer for the Vista Storm were important factors to Lopez as a young teen.
Attending Rancho Buena Vista High School then, Lopez also did very well. “I was doing full AP, honors; I was captain of the varsity soccer team, so even though I was a ‘poor kid from the hood’ I was living a different life. And I saw a lot of the inequities and the different way people were treated and the way that we were told in honor classes what we need to do to go to college, when the other kids were pretty much ignored.”
He knew because he asked his friends.
“I would talk to some of my friends and say ‘we’re doing this’ and they would say ‘no, we’re not doing that.’ Even from a young age, I started seeing some of those different treatments.”
Paranoia and Prop. 187
The candidate says he can remember the “paranoia” which gripped the community with California Proposition 187.
Although Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation which repealed “unenforceable” provisions of it, according to an article by writer Patrick McGreevy and posted at LATimes, Prop. 187 is described as the “highly charged 1994 measure, passed resoundingly by voters” which was intended “to withhold public services from those in the country illegally.”
Governor Pete Wilson “tried to do away” with some students, Lopez recalls. So there he was, being recognized as “poster boy for what could be achieved” and yet some of his friends who he knew to be better were heading into another direction.
“I was good but they were better,” he says, adding later:
“And I saw their lives going a different way. So the fear that some of the people had back then, that they couldn’t go to school, couldn’t go to the clinics because there was a paranoia in the community and at the same time, here I am being shown as ‘example boy.’ So that got ingrained in me and became the roots for social justice.”
His scholarship covered two years at UCLA, but he got a job working for the Department of Labor full-time in the beginning of his second year. He looked over payroll and hiring statistics doing compliance audits, he says, and saw companies that were 100% male. Then he asked them what is going on?
Should anyone wish to contact him, he provides his contact information:
For Erubey Lopez website: click here