Lost in the shuffle of this busy and vitriolic Mayoral campaign is the human touch. In that spirit, I’d like to share this personal story about City Councilmember Barbara Bry.
But first, some background.
Downtown parking is a beast. Especially for those disabled San Diego drivers like me who require a handicap parking spot.
Thanks to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s bike lanes, scooter corrals and parking re-configurations, there are only 35 ADA spaces left now in all of downtown.
I’ve never considered myself to be a political activist, but about six months ago, I began reaching out to the 2020 Mayoral candidates to plead the case for more handicapped parking and more general attention to disabled issues.
After speaking at the City Council against the removal of parking minimums, I had the pleasure of meeting both Bry and Councilmember Scott Sherman.
Sherman wasn’t running for Mayor at the time, but I figured we were soulmates of sorts, given his well-known aversion toward bike lanes replacing parking spaces.
In scheduling these meetings, I made it abundantly clear that parking is a huge problem, in fact, the severe lack of disabled accessibility makes it nearly impossible for me to come into downtown.
I was told by both Gloria’s staff and Sherman’s staff that if I was unable to find parking to immediately give them a heads up and we could reschedule the appointment. They didn’t reject a meeting or pay me lip service. But it was understood that I had to come to them. That’s just how they conduct business.
But Barbara Bry was different. Knowing my physical situation and mobility restraints, she instructed her staff to allow me to set the location for our meeting for my own convenience, not hers.
I was touched by her sincere care and concern. Her willingness to bend to my needs as a person with a disability spoke volumes about Bry as a person, about her character and empathy. To me, Bry is not a politician. She listens to what you have to say and figures out the best way she can help.
The past few months I’ve spent more time with her and we’ve gotten to know each other. I recently drove her around my District 5 neighborhood in Rancho Bernardo and showed her our streets that are years-late in being repaired and repaved.
Bry exudes the characteristics and the temperament we should want in a Mayor. Imagine a true public servant inside City Hall, figuring out the best ways to solve homelessness and our housing problem by getting involved? In adding disabled parking downtown? Protecting San Diego taxpayers? Maintaining and restoring Balboa Park? Being hands-on. A Mayor Barbara Bry would never tell a constituent, if they had an issue, to use the Get It Done App.
Barbara Bry is the type of person I aspire to have as Mayor of America’s eighth largest city. Please vote for her on March 3.
Kent Rodricks is a disabled activist, an advisor to SANDAG and an award-winning screenwriter.