By JEFF CLEMETSON
On April 28, the currently-forming Voice of Del Cerro group held its first public meeting.
“The impetus for Voice of Del Cerro was a response to the Del Cerro Action Council’s retirement as an entity and residents of Del Cerro felt there was a void that was left with that organization retiring and there was need for more transparency and an inclusive voice in Del Cerro, so a group of residents decided to organize and develop this group,” explained Ellis Clay, who led the meeting.
The online event was attended by over 50 residents and included a visit from San Diego City Council member Raul Campillo.
The meeting was mostly an informal presentation and introduction of the members of VODC’s working board who volunteered to write bylaws and create structure for the group based on public input.
During an interactive presentation, attendees were invited to share their thoughts on what they wanted the group to be. The main themes that surfaced were: community, transparency, representation, civil discourse, inclusiveness and communication.
Clay explained that the original structure of VODC is to have a founding board of roughly nine members and that the board will meet “hopefully sooner than later” to discuss organization and responsibilities of board members and “larger functions of the group.”
“At that point it will be opened up to those that expressed interest as volunteers and other support elements to be able to chime in with their own input and that will be part of the inclusiveness and transparency that we will be hopefully working to create,” he said.
Clay then officially introduced himself and the other founding members of the working group introduced themselves as well.
Clay is a Del Cerro resident of two years. He works as an educator, is a parent and a member of the Del Cerro BLM group. “The opportunity to be involved in this organization is one that I am taking very seriously and happy to be a part of,” he said.
Pamela Cottais is a resident of 40 years and is an alumnus of Patrick Henry and SDSU. She worked as an RN before going into real estate and raised four boys in Del Cerro. “I’d like to continue being active in the community,” she said. “I started with the wonderful group Save Del Cerro and that kind of sparked an interest in the community.”
Dante Wyatt is a Del Cerro resident of 16 years. He is a parent and works as a criminal defense attorney, and spent 10 years in the public defenders office, before working the last nine years in private practice. “My desire to be involved is to hopefully create a really good structure and foundation that models transparency and creates a board that is responsive to the residents and is a strong voice for us when we have issues that needs to be addressed with the city or other entities,” he said.
Nate Stein moved to San Carlos in 1988, then Del Cerro in 1991 where he raised his children. He recently retired from a career in nonprofits where he served on boards and committees. “So being part of this was a no-brainer to me,” he added.
Jay Sener moved to Del Cerro over two years ago but lived in nearby Rolando for almost 20 years. He is a parent with his oldest attending Henry. He said he is interested to get involved in community planning and has community group experience having served on Rolando Community Council in leadership roles, including president. “I believe in a grass-roots approach to community planning and I think it’s important to understand what’s important to constituents being served by an organization,” he said.
Sandi Einstein moved to Del Cerro from Cleveland two years ago to be close to her son, daughter and granddaughter who live in San Carlos. She is a professional organizer and life coach. “I’m interested in keeping our community safe and clean and making more people aware of what’s going on,” she said, adding that she is a member of the Save Del Cerro Group.
Lyn Worthington is a Del Cerro resident of six years. She works for San Diego County in contracts, primarily to settle disputes, and has experience working on boards for the county as well as nonprofits. “The reason we bought here is the sense of community here, the multiple generations that we see,” she said. “So clearly there are a lot of roots here and the reason I want to be a part of this is to continue that.”
Barbara Blakeley moved to Del Cerro from Rolando over two years ago and has lived in San Diego since 1999 “jumping around” neighborhoods but thinks this is where she’ll stay. “This one definitely fits for me,” she said. Blakeley was an early member of Save Del Cerro. “I’m really interested in having a voice that will speak for the entire community, not just a select few that is inclusive of all walks of life,” she said.
Lisa Busalacchi was listed as a volunteer to be on the working group board but was not in attendance.
After introductions, Clay made a point that although many board members were made aware of VODC through other organizations, this group would not have the same mission as those other groups.
“One of the notions behind Voice of Del Cerro is that it would be an inclusive voice for all Del Cerro,” he said, adding that VODC welcomes members from all local groups such as Del Cerro Moms or Friends of Del Cerro. “That is a distinction from other groups like Save Del Cerro which has a singular purpose or Del Cerro for Black Lives Matter that has its own singular purpose. So in terms of having this be a more inclusive and whole community we want to make sure that every voice is heard and we have a broad spectrum of issues that we cover and address as we move forward.”
Clay then introduced Council member Campillo who thanked the group volunteers and attendees for “standing up for community” and finding consensus and reaching out to connect with each other.
“It’s not very often that you have a new community group pop up like this and its certainly not even common to have 54 people show up to any meeting whatsoever,” he said. “I know this group will be a vehicle for the residents of Del Cerro to come together, help each other, build community and bring issues to each other’s attention and we will be here so it’s in our attention.”
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.