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Valerie Acevez Takes Community Involvement To Heart

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Posted: Friday, July 5, 2019 3:40 pm

Some people may know her as the Chamber of Commerce president, but that is just one of the many community activities Valerie Acevez is involved in. Her community involvement started at a young age when she was a candy striper volunteer at the Coronado Hospital and a few years later starting a Girls Scout Troop at 18 years old.

Acevez is the oldest of three daughters. Her father was a Navy serviceman who was transferred to Imperial Beach from Ohio in 1964 when Acevez was in second grade. Acevez has many fond memories of growing up in the small town and remembers running around town and the only requirement was to be home before dark.

Although Imperial Beach was a fun place to grow up in, there were some concerns. “It was the beach version of the Wild West; we had two motorcycle gangs, the Mongos and Hell’s Angels. It’s the way it was,” she recalled.

Acevez said she was a goody two shoes until she was 18. “It was an awesome place to grow up. I learned a lot more than I want to,” she said.

She attended Westview Elementary, Mar Vista Middle and graduated from Mar Vista High School. She started attending Southwestern College, but stopped to help her mother when her brother had cancer and later died. She then worked as a hostess at Denny’s when it first opened. Acevez met her future husband Daniel at 19 years old and they were married three years later.

“That was considered old [to get married],” she recalled. The couple recently celebrated their 45th anniversary.

Before getting married she started a job as an administrative assistant for a manufacturing home sale business. She eventually left that job and started her own company called San Diego Manufactured Housing, selling mobile homes. For a while she tried the finance side of the business but decided to go back to sales because of better profits. Acevez has now worked in mobile home sales for 45 years.

Soon after she and her husband were married they moved to Hawaii with the Navy for three years. While there, she kept busy working in a restaurant then starting another Girl Scout Troop. When the couple came back to Imperial Beach she reopened her manufactured home sale business and had an office in Chula Vista for a number of years. She eventually closed it and works out of her home now.

Acevez explained how her business works. She only handles one or two homes at a time. After ordering a home from the manufacturer, it gets delivered in two pieces, then put together in a mobile home park. She hires a contractor to do some work to the home, and by that time it’s all done, the house is usually sold.

Acevez still enjoys her job after 45 years. “It’s been a good business for me, it has allowed me to travel. I’ll keep doing it…once I stop enjoying it, I’ll retire. It’a niche, not everybody can do it. It’s still exciting when a house comes in two pieces and it’s put together,” she said.

Once Acevez became a mom with her son and daughter, she got involved in her children’s activities. She became active in Little League and was the president of the Girl’s Softball League. As her children got older, (they are now married and have children of their own), she joined many local groups. Acevez is a member of Kiwanis, the Night Owl section of the Women’s Club and has been president of the Chamber of Commerce for two years.

She explained that recently a change was made to the bylaws for Acevez to be president one more year, since no one else wanted to run for the position. “It’s probably because we have no secretary. We’re the smallest chamber out there. Most of the work is volunteer work and the highest cost is the office. As president I took over the job of secretary. Other people look at [what I do] and and think ‘It’s too much,’” she said.

Acevez answers the phone for the chamber office since the number is tied to her cellphone. Despite all the work, she enjoys it. “I love it. It’s so much fun, it keeps me busy, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

The work at the chamber takes a lot of her time. “There’s a lot more to a chamber than people realize, a lot of stuff you wouldn’t see,” she said.

Acevez explained that she is often contacted by the Port and San Diego Chamber among the many to attend events and meetings.

Because of her belief in community involvement, Acevez ran twice for city council. She said the first time she really wanted to do it, and came close by 300 votes to the next councilman that was elected. The second time she was encouraged to run. During the last elections she ran for mayor. She had originally planned on running in 2024, but many encouraged to go for it sooner. Acevez said running for mayor was nothing like running for city council.

“Running for mayor I lost friends. It was a nasty race,” she said. “Running for mayor is a little like being president of the chamber. You have to watch what you say.”

Although she lost the race, the experience was still worthwhile. “I do not regret it. I had a blast,” she said.

She jokes that since she ran for city council and mayor she might as well keep running, and run for the assembly next. Acevez, who is a two time breast cancer survivor, admits that even though it was a lot of hard work, she enjoyed running for office and got reacquainted with old friends she had not seen in a while. When Acevez ran for the mayoral office she was on the same ticket with Dane Crosby who was running for council. She knew Crosby because he had gone to school with her son.

Her chief concern about the city is that it has become too environmentally conscious. “ [By running] I was trying to have more balance… We have moved away from the military. We’re a military town whether you like it or not, we have to a have a relationship with them,” she said.

Another concern of hers is the issue of managed retreat in the Local Coastal Plan as well as the housing density issue. “That’s not going away,” she said of the density.

After she steps down from her position at the chamber she feels she will have the time to be more politically involved. “As a resident I’ll be able to speak up when something is going on,” she said.

Although she may come across as low key, she is very interested in what happens in her hometown and what affects it. “You may think I don’t know what’s going on, but anytime I hear about some information, I research it,” she said.

Recently Acevez was on “America Says” TV show with locals Karen Odermatt, Kathy Wakefield, her son Aaron, and Nellie Hazel. She couldn’t reveal anything because the show has not aired yet, but she said “I’m the leader of the crazy pack.”

What has made Acevez become involved and interested in helping her community over the years?

“My parents were never involved… I wanted to be different. I was always involved both as a parent and now as a grandparent. I’m an overachiever. I’ll always be one of those,” said this grandmother of seven grandchildren, all between the ages of 14 and 4.

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