Edwin was raised by our community—a product of the people and the streets of District 9—and it is this community that he seeks to serve as Supervisor.
Edwin’s story really begins in 1958, when Edwin’s grandfather “Abuelo” (and a couple of years later his grandmother) fled Nicaragua due to the oppressive dictatorship of Somosa. He hoped for safety and opportunity for his family. After weeks of traveling North through dangerous passages, he made it “home” when he found himself in the Mission--on 20th and Capp.
A few years after Abuelo settled in San Francisco, he sent for Edwin Sr., who was 10 years old at the time, living in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Edwin’s dad reunited with his father in Bernal Heights and would later attend James Lick Middle School and Polytechnic High School. As a young San Franciscan, Edwin Sr. contributed to his family of eight, working as a paperboy in Bernal Heights and the Mission; and earning a few more coins shoe-shining on the weekends. It was his work ethic and determination that propelled Edwin Sr. to become a small business owner, with his office on the corner of 22nd and Valencia.
Edwin’s own upbringing is an affirmation of our progressive values—a story that shows that it truly takes a village to raise a child. At the age of 7, Edwin Sr. and Edwin's mom divorced. Edwin Sr. was given full custody of little Edwin, and wanted to provide his son with the best that he could. Cared for by a single dad, Edwin stumbled through school, attending five different elementary schools, including Bryant and Cesar Chavez Elementary. Not able to afford market rent, the two moved to a family friend’s home, where they shared a bed. The two eventually would move into Edwin's grandmother’s home in Bernal Heights, where they shared the living room floor, using sleeping bags as their covers and the rug as their mattress.
Edwin and his dad struggled through their journey. Financially, Edwin and his father were among the tens of thousands of San Franciscans that lived in poverty, receiving federal and state assistance, from TANF to Food Stamps, all the while Edwin Sr. worked odd jobs to provide the rest to make ends meet. Knowing that it would take a village to raise his child, Edwin Sr. created a community around Edwin that could support him in this time of struggle.
Edwin was a part of every community resource Edwin Sr. could find. Edwin was sent to the free “latchkey” program at the Bernal Heights Rec & Park gym, and received tutoring at the Bernal Heights Library. During the week, Edwin would spend time at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center—where his grandmother would graciously receive food from their Food Pantry program in order to share with others or cook for the family. If Edwin was not at the Bernal Heights gym, you would find him at the Boys & Girls Club on 21st and Alabama.
Edwin memorized the bus times for the 24 Divisadero and the 9 San Bruno, the two buses he took from Bernal Heights to El Dorado Elementary (from where he graduated from) and later Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. In middle school, Edwin Sr. realized that baseball would be the tool to keep Edwin off the streets, so he had him join as many teams as possible. On the weekends they would spend sunrise to sunset at Crocker Amazon and Excelsior Park playing 3 to 4 games a day.
Edwin was recruited to attend Serra High School on scholarship. He eventually played Division I baseball at the University of the Pacific, where he studied international business with a minor in law. At the University of the Pacific, Edwin would become the first US-born Latino Student Government President, leading and advocating on behalf of the student body to the administration. In this role, he would be an outspoken voice on diversity, creating portals of opportunity for all students, regardless of race, gender, social-economic or immigration status.
Committed to being an advocate for progressive and social justice values, Edwin enrolled at one of the most progressive law schools in the US on a full-tuition scholarship. At the University of Washington, Edwin fought for inclusive values and racial equity, ensuring there was an increase in the number of students and faculty of color.
His Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington exposed Edwin to levels of privilege he had never experienced before. Coming from the living room floor of his grandmother’s house, the lack of opportunities and resources afforded to his community became very acute. Edwin knew he had to use his degree to diversify the legal profession but to also fight the injustices and inequities facing our communities every day. In his efforts to diversify the legal profession, Edwin took an interest in the areas of law with the least amount of racial diversity and with the greatest impact in our communities, Intellectual Property (i.e., Technology) and Real Property Law, interning at top tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and working for a number of years at Vormetric, Inc. These opportunities afforded Edwin the resources to provide for his father and family, finally breaking the vicious cycle of poverty.
Edwin left the tech sector understanding that the greatest support he could provide his community would be to serve. Edwin partnered with colleagues to create the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Achievers program, where 65 young students of color from San Francisco were given paid internships along with professional and personal development support.
He is currently supporting the Office of the Superintendent at the San Francisco Unified School District with identifying and developing tools to increase opportunities and outcomes for public school students of color.
Fighting For Progressive Values
As a son of District 9, Edwin’s progressive values were ingrained since his days at Cesar Chavez Elementary — equity, justice and community. Edwin learned these values firsthand, witnessing them everyday in our community.
Edwin Sr. taught his son what it meant to fight for dignity and livelihood. In high school and college, Edwin Sr. would take him to help tenants who were facing evictions, providing them information to resources and tactics to protect themselves from unlawful evictions.
While in law school, Edwin and his dad fought their most difficult battle against their own eviction. For ten years prior, Edwin and his now disabled 63-year old father fought and won four separate eviction battles. In each case, the community organized around Edwin and his family to show solidarity and demand a halt to community displacement. From Causa Justa :: Just Cause to the San Francisco Tenants Union, the community truly saved Edwin and his father.
To speak on the topic of displacement and to live through displacement are two very different vantage points - Edwin has lived through it. He understands the pain, heartbreak, and destruction displacement and gentrification cause.
The fight for the heart and soul of our whole community continues. Edwin is a progressive leader whose values, ethics, and passion to do what is right is fueled by the struggles of his past, the opportunities of the present, and inspired by a collective conviction for a self-determined District 9.
Edwin is a progressive who is radically effective:
His efforts in racial justice and youth advocacy led to his participation as a lead organizer of the SF Millions March that took place in December 2014, where over 5,000 people marched through the streets of San Francisco demanding that #BlackLivesMatter. That march, along with demands from the community pushed for SFPD to purchase and implement wearing body cameras.
He was instrumental in supporting the youth of the Mission Playground to fighting against the privatization of our public spaces - which led to Rec & Park eliminating the permitting of Mission Playground and installing multilingual signage.
He has sat on two of the Mayor’s Office of Housing - Affordable Housing Selection Committees. These committees select the community developers that will develop the 100% affordable housing planned throughout the Mission.
He sits on the Local Agency Formation Commission where he and the other commissioners diligently push to implement Clean Power SF - 100% clean energy throughout San Francisco.
He sits on the Board of the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and is an executive member of the Housing Committee. Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center has built over 445 units of 100% affordable housing, and now will own an additional 300+ units of permanent affordable housing at Alemany Property and Holly Courts (the oldest public housing site on the west coast).
Along with the leadership and vision of many community organizations and leaders, Edwin served as a co-drafter of the Pause On Luxury Housing, the 2015 Ballot Proposition and campaign that demanded our community together.
Edwin fights for residential and small business tenants who are facing eviction throughout San Francisco.