Among those vying for San Francisco’s District 9 Supervisor seat, which David Campos will vacate next year, is Mission native Edwin Lindo, who has vowed to serve the community that helped raise him.
“When someone has that vantage point in creating policy, all the sudden the policy is inherently community driven,” Lindo said, who will turn 29 on Dec. 20. “I want to work with the community to create ‘People Power Policy.’”
The issues that challenge District 9 (which includes parts of the Mission, Bernal Heights and Portola) are not only important to him because they affect his Latino community, but also because they have affected him and his family throughout their lives. He has fought and won four eviction battles, but has been forced to move around the neighborhood in the process.
“Gentrification has a lasting psychological effect in a negative way,” said Lindo, whose neighborhood has lost 8,000 Latinos in the last decade. “When you are displaced it’s hard to re-root yourself again and you lose a sense of yourself.”
Lindo, who is the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club vice president of external affairs, made the decision to run for the supervisor seat in hopes of getting more people of color and community members involved in decision making positions. He rejects the term “position of power” to describe a place where he wants to be.
“The people have power, not me,” Lindo said, insisting that by acknowledging everyone’s voice as powerful, the people of District 9 will feel more comfortable voicing their concerns and thus have more confidence that the community can govern itself.
“There are community leaders and activists who come together and advocate,” he said. “I want to take it a step further and get not just the leaders. Lets have a conversation with the community.”
Lindo says that many working-class Latinos don’t trust the government, feeling it doesn’t represent them, and that those who do trust government don’t necessarily know their place in politics. He explains that the law is difficult to understand, and that usually working-class people don’t have time to study it.
“You should vote. It’s your voice,” said Lindo.
But he understands why one wouldn’t. He was raised on welfare, food stamps and secondhand clothes.
“People have to survive,” he said. “You couldn’t even think about being an activist because you have to put food on the table.”
Lindo’s father, Edwin Sr., fled Nicaragua at age 17, avoiding the carnage of civil war.
“[He] doesn’t think the government works for people, that it’s an oppressive system that keeps people disenfranchised—typically working class people of color,” Lindo said of his father. “My dad thought: ‘The government is corrupt, so I’ll stay out of it.’”
Lindo hopes to generate change that influences the community in ways that serve the people, expressing that he wants to get people involved who otherwise wouldn’t be. He believes in the Mission District, recalling that it has progressive values and has historically fought for human rights, livable wages and for working class people of color.
“This community allowed me to go to college, grad school, work at a tech company and take care of my dad and buy a house for him,” Lindo said.
Among the struggles, the support he received has given him a sense that his neighborhood is a place where “you can thrive.”
Lindo believes that what the people need today is someone from the community to represent it.
“If I get elected, I am not accountable for constituents, I’m accountable to my family,” said Lindo, explaining his feeling of family connection with the Mission.
With the idea that everyone’s voice must be heard, Lindo promises to start conversations with as many people as possible, even those who have lost hope as the neighborhood continues to change.
“I have to personally reach out to them, knock on their door and say ‘We need your voice,’” said Lindo.