After growing up in Imperial Beach and being gone for over 20 years, David Preston has returned to his hometown and wants to be involved in his community.
Preston, one of four siblings, was born on Valentine’s Day. He loved everything Imperial Beach. Preston’s mom worked as a secretary in a South Bay school. In middle school he started playing water polo and also surfed and skateboarded. “I saw that Imperial Beach was a unique city,” he said.
Preston and his friends often went on hikes to the estuary and up the river. He attended Coronado High School and after graduation he wanted to leave Imperial Beach. Preston grew up with a complicated family situation. His dad spent time in jail. Both his parents were from Mexico, but Preston grew up not speaking Spanish. “I didn’t like people to know my roots. I was worried some people would mistreat me, others treat me better. I didn’t want to be judged by my roots,” he said.
Preston didn’t see a way to grow in his town and situation. “I didn’t have money for college. I loved it here, and it was not easy to go,” he said.
Preston moved to Germany where he worked for the U.S. military Department of Morale Welfare and Recreation in the Alps where his manager took him under his wing. “He saw I had potential and needed to go back to the States,” he recalled.
Preston stayed in Germany for two-and-a-half years and he describes his time there as a vacation. He snowboarded and traveled a lot. “It was like Disneyland fantasy land, a valley nestled in the Alps,” he recalled.
Finally Preston decided to move back to the U.S. In the meantime his dad was released from prison, but later died at a half way house on 13th Street. He describes his dad as “a victim of violence and perpetrator of violence.”
The rest of his family had moved to Georgia, so he joined them in early 2000s. “The best thing was to go to Georgia, get a job, go to school. I landed with UPS,” said Preston. “I started loading, told them I wanted to go to college and then go into management. UPS had program where they paid for college.”
He felt lucky about his situation but worked really hard. He started attending Gainesville State College. “From there I started to mature. I had teachers who believed in me…put effort in me. I started at UPS loading a trailer, working at night and going to school during the day,” he said.
At school he started a speech and debate club. He is a firm believer in having a debate and a dialogue, a civil discussion, and at the end of the day go to dinner together. He feels it is important to have an exchange of ideas, but the ability to be civil and showing respect towards each other is what really leads to progress.
Preston then transferred to George Mason University in Virginia where he received an Associate Degree in Political Science and later to Thomas Edison State College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Services.
For the past 13 years Preston has worked in the Washington D.C. area and moved up in management at UPS like he had planned years ago. For the past 6 to 7 years he has worked in business development, and in the past year as a healthcare senior account manager.
“I managed our complex healthcare customers in D.C. …when it came to the pandemic I was involved in assisting in the fight for COVID 19,” he said.
Preston was instrumental in creating test sites in Florida that were adopted by the Florida Emergency Management Agency. Working for UPS, the number one logistics provider in the world, Preston was also involved in the distribution of the vaccine globally.
“It was an amazing time for me…with all that success and involvement I was thinking of Imperial Beach. I’ve been away for 21 years and came back to visit a handful of times,” he said.
When Preston visited and saw old friends he “knew there were people rooting for me in IB.” He realized that people had seen potential in him growing up, and pushed him to do well. When he brought his family with him to visit Imperial Beach, his daughter told him she wanted to live there.
In the years that he has been away, Preston married, had four children and lived in Virginia. He felt an opportunity came about to return to Imperial Beach when one his managers asked him if he was interested in going to San Diego to manage the biotech area of the country for UPS. So this past February he moved his family from Virginia to Imperial Beach. His intention was not just to move back to California but move back to Imperial Beach. “
I’m here for Imperial Beach. My primary objective is to be here, to come back here and to know the heartbeat of the community, to give back, support and focus on the youth of the community,” he said.
With moving his family across the country from a suburban neighborhood in Virginia, he was little concerned with exposing his kids to things they were not used to, including the pollution. Now that he is back, his goal is to help. “I want to support the local leadership, regardless of political association. I want to support the community for two reasons. I owe this community my time and support, and two, I believe it’s a great place for a family to thrive with the beach, the estuary, and it’s a beautiful place,” he said.
Preston has been attending city council meetings of late and staying informed on issues that are important to Imperial Beach. From his latest observations, he believes the city has to build revenue and create opportunities to make money. He would like to help in some way with the pollution issue.
“What’s my role? I don’t know yet, but I’m a doer,” he said.
He has also kept informed on the issues of the law enforcement AdHoc committee. “It’s possible to see both sides and live in harmony. I’m concerned with people who have an absolute dislike of law enforcement and don’t provide an alternative,” he said. “I’m not here to get online and complain, but be part of the team, do something about it. I’m a person of action and am trying to learn the heartbeat of the community.”