Saturday, March 29, 2014


(San Diego) In recognition of Women’s History Month, Majority Leader Toni Atkins today honored nine leaders from throughout her Assembly district for their accomplishments at a Women of the Year Awards ceremony at the State of California building in downtown San Diego.  Hailing from all parts of the extended 78th Assembly District, these women have found success in medicine, law, entrepreneurship, community organizing, and environmental advocacy.

“Women are leaders in every aspect of our society, yet they are not always recognized for their accomplishments” says Atkins. “The women I honor today have made San Diego a better place and are role models for both young men and young women in our community.  I thank them for their service.”

Speaker-elect Toni Atkins honors the Women of the Year for the 78th Assembly District.  From left to right: Hon. Patricia Ann Yim Cowett, Gerri Retman-Opper, Cincy Greatrex, Barbara Bry, Speaker-elect Atkins, Dr. Betty Jones, Linda LeGerrette, Mayda Winter, Patricia McQuater, Nancy Weare

Barbara Bry – La Jolla
Barbara is a serial entrepreneur whose passion is leveling the playing field for women and girls in business, health care and politics.  Currently, she is the chief operating officer of Blackbird Ventures, which invests in and incubates early stage technology companies.  She teaches entrepreneurship at UC San Diego and is the founder of Athena San Diego, the leading organization for women in the San Diego technology and life sciences community.  She was the first editor of the non-profit investigative news site, Voice of San Diego.

Bry is also the founder of Run Women Run, a non-partisan political action committee that identifies, inspires, mentors, trains and supports pro-choice women in San Diego for both elected and appointed offices.

The Hon. Patricia Ann Yim Cowett - Coronado

Judge Cowett is a recently retired judge of the San Diego Superior Court.  She was the first woman of Chinese descent to be appointed to the California bench and as best as records can tell, the first in the nation.  She was a deputy city attorney for the City of San Diego, an attorney for the state Department of Transportation, and in-house litigation counsel for SDG&E before being appointed by Governor Brown to the bench in 1979.

She was the founder of the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego and the Asian American Judges of California.  She served on numerous boards and commissions including the Judicial Nominations and Evaluation Commission of the State Bar.  Since retiring in 2008, Judge Cowett has been acting as a private mediator and arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and ADR Services, Inc.

Ms. Cindy Greatrex – La Jolla
Cindy is employed in the field of biotechnology, providing remote medical care via software and other medical devices, as well as genomics sequencing so that companies can decode and analyze molecular structures.

She serves on several boards in San Diego, and is currently president of the La Jolla Town Council and Independent La Jolla,  a membership based community organization comprised of citizens united by their deep concern for La Jolla’s future.

In greater San Diego, Cindy serves as board member of Access Youth Academy; Adopt-a-Special Kid, a national organization enabling adoptions from foster care, focusing on LGBT and single-parent adoptions; International Orphan Care of San Diego, which assists orphans from Afghanistan to be productive and educated; Hatech, a telecommunication foundation for the deaf; and the San Diego-Jalalabad Sister Cities foundation, which provides medical and education services to Afghan civilians.

Dr. Elizabeth Jones  - Coronado

Dr. Jones specializes in providing international programs promoting good health in infants and children.  She has worked for Scripps Metabolic Clinic and Research Foundation; Scripps Green Hospital; Mercy Hospital; Wellstart International; and has volunteered in Tijuana since 1976, teaching nutrition for patients, families, paraprofessionals and physicians.

Together with Dr. Chong-King, a highly regarded Tijuana pediatric surgeon, she founded the Foundation for the Children of the Californias, a tri-national collaboration between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  This pediatric facility has expanded to 25 specialties, providing more than 380,000 consultations; 9,500 surgeries; 280,000 hours of education; 350 volunteer hours and many outreach programs serving impoverished areas.

Linda LeGerrette – Golden Hill, San Diego
Linda is a founding member of the César Chávez Service Clubs, an organization dedicated to teaching our youth to believe in themselves and to know that they can make a difference and where they learn the values of leadership and organizational skills necessary for participation in a democratic society. Because of her hard work, leadership and direction, the Chávez Service Clubs are the fastest growing youth leadership club in San Diego.

Along with her husband Carlos, their dual achievements include being organizers and confidantes for the late United Farm Workers president, César E. Chávez.  They are also pioneers and developers of the Price Club (now Costco), field office director and coordinators for San Diego City Schools’ successful $1.5 billion dollar school construction bond and numerous other political and neighborhood campaigns. For the past six years, Linda has successfully dedicated her life to the campaign of home health care workers and their struggle for collective bargaining rights and respect.

Pat McQuater – San Diego
Pat has been an attorney and manager for more than 25 years in the legal department of a Fortune 500 corporation - Solar Turbines/Caterpillar. Recently retired, she remains engaged in the legal profession as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. She has been recognized as one of San Diego’s top corporate counselors.

As passionate about civic responsibility as she is about professional excellence, Pat’s leadership in the San Diego community includes serving on several high profile boards, including the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, Urban League of San Diego, Girl Scouts of San Diego/Imperial Council, Rady Children’s Hospital, and the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory.  She was the first African-American woman appointed to the San Diego Board of Port/Airport Commissioners, which she chaired for 8 ½ years.

Gerri Retman-Opper- Solana Beach
As a 30-year resident of Solana Beach, Gerri has managed numerous political campaigns, helping to change the Solana Beach City Council to a majority Democrat elected body.  She served as the chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, where she developed and organized many annual community-building events,  including the well-known "Beach Blanket Movie Night," as well as the "Holiday Tree Lighting" and "Paws in the Park".  She is a recipient of the California Parks and Recreation Society Volunteer Recognition Award.

Gerri is most proud of her successful effort to save the 3.44 acre parcel of land known as the Gateway Property for open space. She has also successfully fought against numerous development proposals that threatened public views, community character, and the fragile ecology of the nearby San Elijo Lagoon.

Nancy Weare – Del Mar
Nancy has played a key role in the protection of sensitive environmental areas in the Del Mar area.  She helped found the Del Mar Lagoon Committee and the San Dieguito River Valley Land Conservancy for the purpose of protecting, revitalizing and managing two of the most important and productive ecosystems in the world. The San Dieguito Lagoon Resource Enhancement Program was ultimately adopted as an official planning tool by the City of Del Mar and received many national and local awards, including an Orchid for Environmental Design from the San Diego Architects Association in 1987. Nancy was also recognized for her work with a Joint Powers Authority to restore and preserve the San Dieguito Lagoon and its river valley watershed.

Nancy was president of the San Dieguito River Valley Land Conservancy for its first 6 years of existence. Its goal was to preserve and restore the 65-mile long San Dieguito River watershed from source to ocean and encouraged the formation of a multi-jurisdictional task force under the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) for the purpose of creating the San Dieguito River Valley Park.

Mayda Winter – Imperial Beach

Mayda works as a project/grant administrator for the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of coastal wetlands.  For the past 14 years, she has managed numerous restoration projects in and around the Tijuana River Valley, most notably, the South San Diego Bay Wetland Restoration Project that returned tidal exchange and improved water circulation to over 230 acres of former salt production ponds, restoring a wide range of historical coastal habitats.

Mayda was elected to the Imperial Beach City Council in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 and 2004.  During her 12 years as a councilmember, she served as vice-chair of the Metro Wastewater Joint Powers Authority, on the board of directors for SANDAG, and two terms as president of the League of California Cities.  Her community ties include five years as co-chair of the Imperial Beach Chili & Jazz Association and ten years on the executive board of the South Bay Union School District Education Foundation. She currently chairs the City of Imperial Beach Redevelopment Successor Agency Oversight Board.


Steve Padilla Builds Momentum In City Council Campaign


Padilla leads in fundraising and gains additional endorsements from
local Chamber of Commerce and State Representative

CHULA VISTA – Steve Padilla continued to build momentum for his campaign for Chula Vista City Council Seat 1 announcing new endorsements today and leading the field of candidates in fundraising according to just filed campaign finance reports.

Recently filed campaign finance reports show Padilla leads all candidates for City Council Seat 1 in total money raised, total contributions this year and cash on hand.  Padilla has raised over $20,000 for his City Council race.  Crucially, Padilla’s committee also has no debt and has taken out no loans.  Padilla’s lead this month continues a fundraising advantage he established last year.  Campaign finance reports are publicly available documents available at the City Clerk’s office.

Today, Padilla’s campaign also announced it has earned endorsements from Chula Vista’s elected state representatives, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and State Senator Ben Hueso.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support for my campaign for City Council,” said Steve Padilla.  “I am running for City Council to put progress ahead of politics and work with all sides to get things done for Chula Vista’s middle class.  The campaign is gaining momentum by the day with support from residents, small business owners, law enforcement and leading elected officials from every neighborhood in Chula Vista.”

In addition to his fundraising advantage and the endorsements from Gonzalez and Hueso, Padilla has earned multiple key endorsements in recent weeks.  In mid-march, the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce endorsed Padilla’s campaign for City Council.  The Chamber’s endorsement comes on the heels of endorsements from leading law enforcement groups: the Chula Vista Police Officers Association, Chula Vista Firefighters Association, San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs Association, and the San Diego Chapter of the Peace Officers Research Association of CA (PORAC).   Padilla is also supported by the San Diego County Democratic Party, San Diego Labor Council and Chula Vista Employees Association.

Steve Padilla is a small business owner, environmental advocate and lifelong Chula Vistan.  He is a former police officer who previously served on the Chula Vista City Council, as Chula Vista Mayor and Port Commissioner.  He lives in the Otay Ranch section of Chula Vista.

San Diego Security Officers Launch Campaign for Good Jobs

San Diego, CA | As the national debate over income inequality rages on, San Diego security officers joined local elected officials, faith, labor and community groups to launch their campaign for good jobs in the security industry at a town hall today.

Detailed in a new report, “Secure Good Jobs for All of San Diego,” raising standards for more than 9,000 private sector security officers in the area would inject $244 million into the local economy and help reverse a recent trend of declining middle-class jobs in San Diego.  

While private sector security officers in San Diego report a medium hourly wage of $10.50, sometimes a low at $9.00, with limited access to healthcare or benefits, security officers in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, who have joined together in a union, are paid a minimum of $12.55 an hour, have employer-paid healthcare, paid sick days, vacation days and holidays along with a stronger voice on the job.

“I take my job seriously because I’m a first responder charged with keeping people safe,” said a security officer from San Diego. “Security officers put our lives on the line. We should at least have good jobs with pay you can raise a family on, affordable healthcare and full-time hours.”

"Before we had a union there was always uncertainty – nothing was guaranteed," said Mike Malley, a union security officer from San Francisco. "Now with a union contract, we have consistent hours and a stable schedule. Our pay has improved which means I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck. I can pay my rent and have money leftover for bills and to live an enjoyable life. I have the peace of mind that comes with affordable healthcare and the dignity that comes with being treated with respect on the job."

Joining security officers at the campaign launch were San Diego City Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez, representatives for state and federal elected officials and a broad coalition of faith, labor and community organizations dedicated to lifting the local economy with good jobs.

"We’re here today to stand with security officers who are taking the brave step of joining together to improve their jobs," said San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria. "It’s a step they need to take to support their families. And it’s a step we all need them to take so we can start turning San Diego’s economy around and lifting our communities with better jobs."


SEIU United Service Workers West represents more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, airport workers, and other property service workers across California. For more information on security officers around the country joining together for better jobs, please visit