An Interview with Barbara Bry, City Council Candidate for District 1

Photo courtesy of Barbara Bry for City Council.

Barbara Bry is an entrepreneur, a teacher, a journalist, a mom, and a community volunteer. She is currently running for City Council District 1, which includes Carmel Valley, University City, La Jolla, and UCSD. Her opponent, Republican-endorsed candidate Ray Ellis, recently suspended his campaign. We spoke with Barbara to discuss what her campaign means for students at UCSD moving toward election day.

The Triton: So you spent some time working at UCSD – how would you say you’re going to understand UCSD constituent issues and what would you say the most pressing issue is for UCSD constituents?

Bry: That’s a really good question. A lot of what I hear from UCSD students is that they want to be able to get a job after they graduate and they want to be able to rent or buy a house or an apartment. We had a lot of UCSD students on the campaign and we actually hired a few at the end.

The Triton: In terms of the Mid-Coast Trolley development coming up, do you see affordable housing coming on so that students are able to afford housing and set up life in San Diego or at least live here as a student.

I believe in working with the campus to make sure that it continues to be a center of innovation and a lot of what I want to focus on is making sure there’s jobs for the students of UCSD.

Bry: The Mid Coast Trolley is good for a number of reasons. They started some of the basic work on it this year, but it’s not visible yet in the UC area–it’s going to take five years to build it out.

Number one, it’s going to allow students who live in the South Bay to commute easily to the campus and second, it will allow people who live near the Trolley who work in the UTC area, who work on the campus, who work at Scripps, or the UCSD Medical Centers to get to work very easily. So hopefully it’s going to reduce traffic on the freeway and provide an affordable way for people to get to their jobs. In UTC right now, some of the housing that’s being built is affordable, it’s just a requirement of the new construction. But I think we’re going to have to look broader than just the UTC area for affordable housing. It’s a city-wide issue.

The Triton: What do you see your relationship with the campus and the [UCSD] administration being? Since your campaign focused on high tech entrepreneurship on City Council. How do you see UCSD meshing with that being that it’s a hotbed of innovation in the San Diego community?

Bry: First, I did work at UCSD from ‘86 to ‘97. I was at the Connect program, which was then based at the campus and now it’s a separate organization. I have a good relationship with faculty members particularly. UCSD is the economic engine of the region. Just think of all the companies that have come out of UCSD, either directly or indirectly. Starting with Qualcomm, which was started by a former faculty member, Irwin Jacobs, who came to San Diego to teach at UCSD.

I believe in working with the campus to make sure that it continues to be a center of innovation and a lot of what I want to focus on is making sure there’s jobs for the students of UCSD. The campus doesn’t depend on City Hall, it depends on research money, it depends on money from the state of California, but the city depends on UCSD to be this great economic engine.

Second, UCSD I think is one of the largest, if not the second largest employer after the city government if you include the Medical Center and the hospital. Those people are paying taxes and supporting the quality of life in San Diego.

I think it’s very important to register where you’re going to school, not where your parents live. If you register where you’re going to school, you can vote as a bloc.

The Triton: So what ways do you think students can help you accomplish some of the goals you’ve set out in terms of influencing policy in San Diego?

Bry: One of things is that we ran a very grassroots volunteer driven campaign–we had over 300 volunteers. And we have a very robust internship program for both high school students and college students. Mostly UCSD, because UCSD is in my district. And I want to take that to City Hall and continue to have meaningful internship opportunities for UCSD students and high school students.

The Triton: Is there anything else you want to leave students with? We have a lot of incoming freshmen.

Bry: That’s right, a lot of people don’t know me!

Please register to vote at UCSD. I think it’s very important to register where you’re going to school, not where your parents live. If you register where you’re going to school, you can vote as a bloc. If there are issues like minimum wage that impact students (and I did support the minimum wage increase which passed overwhelmingly in June). I didn’t look at the UCSD data, but I’m sure it passed overwhelmingly [on campus].

So I would encourage students to vote here and second, I’d like to encourage students to get involved with my campaign or another political campaign. This is a presidential election year and it’s very important to have as widespread participation as possible.

This article originally stated that Bry worked at UCSD from 86′ to 87′. The information has been updated and is now correct.