Serge Dedina

Alexander Hamilton, one our Founding Fathers, and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury wrote, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” I exercised my constitutional right to vote on Tuesday, when, after filling out my California ballot, I dropped it off the San Diego County Registrar of Voter drop-box at the Imperial Beach Public Library. According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees elections in our great state, all active, registered voters have been sent vote-by-mail ballots. The “ballot includes a prepaid, first class postage envelope that you can use to mail your ballot back to your county elections office.” You just need to make sure that the ballot is postmarked by November, 3, 2020. If you have not received your ballot in the mail, please contact the Registrar of Voters at 858-565-5800.

Local libraries in San Diego County are also serving as ballot drop-off sites. I immensely enjoyed dropping off my ballot because it combined two of my most cherished activities: voting and visiting the library. I love how our library has become such a focal part of our civic and democratic culture and is an especially welcoming place. I agree more than ever with Thomas Jefferson who argued that “the suffrage of the people” is ‘the rational and peaceable instrument of reform” and with Benjamin Franklin who wrote that “libraries are essential to the functioning of a democratic society.”

Maintaining and protecting cherished and fundamental public and civic institutions established by the Founding Fathers such as libraries, the census and voting, among many others, is more important than ever. They are a positive and welcome antidote to what seems to be mostly negative and conflict fostering social media networks that in the words of author Thomas Friedman, “amplify conspiracy theories and destroy truth and trust.” One of the reasons I enjoy being outdoors so much, especially out in the ocean, is that I am disconnected and free to absorb the beauty of nature and the sound of waves and wind. There is a wise and positive truth in nature that we definitely do not gain from spending all of our times staring at screens that take and take and never give back. That is why I am such a big fan of unplugging and being outside.

We are blessed to have so many places to recreate along the perimeter of Imperial Beach, from our beautiful beach to the Tijuana Estuary and the Bayshore Bikeway. I marvel at the fact that you can hook into bike and hike trail systems from Imperial Beach that head, south, east and north for miles and miles (and of course you can sail, swim, and paddle west into the great Pacific). I enjoy early morning glimpses of osprey, red tailed hawks, bottlenose dolphins, harbor seals and the majestic great blue heron. Soon we’ll have the opportunity to see gray whales migrating south toward their calving grounds in southern Baja. We are fortunate to have an abundance of wildlife within our borders and agencies such as California State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that do such an outstanding job of safeguarding our protected open space and local wildlife.

Over the recent summer, our Imperial Beach Lifeguards, Tidelands and Public Works staff did an outstanding job of keeping big crowds of beachgoers safe and our shoreline spotless. It wasn’t an easy time to work at the beach given the non-stop pollution and changing nature of the COVID-19 threat, but through it all, our well-trained and fearless Ocean Lifeguards patrolled our beaches and rescued hundreds of swimmers in distress. Likewise our Tidelands and Public Works staff were constantly out cleaning up the beach as well as keeping our public infrastructure spotless and more recently re-opened our playgrounds and Fitness Court. Thanks especially to new Lifeguard Captain Adam Chase, who started the job in the toughest conditions imaginable. We are fortunate to have such outstanding public servants in Imperial Beach along with our Sheriffs and Firefighters who help to continue to keep Imperial Beach one of the safest and lowest crime rate beach cities in San Diego County. Now that is something worth celebrating!

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