Running to represent District 2, Humbert Cabrera grew up in the Emerald division of El Cajon. His parents came to America from Merida, escaping Mexico because of the government takeover and his family being Mayan Indian. He said they were historically treated similarly to African Americans in America. Deciding they did not want their children to grow up in that environment, his father came to the United States legally. Cabrera said many people still want to come to America, but it has to be done in a proper way.
“My parents saw a great opportunity and we appreciate America and the American dream. I stayed in El Cajon, working for Sony Electronics, Hewlett Packard, architectural firms and then I started my own architectural firm,” he said. “My work has taken me all over the United States and many places in the world. But I always found my way back to El Cajon because the people here are very giving, and they do not wait for someone to take care of them. They take care of themselves.”
The 54-year-old Republican said District 2 is diverse, with many renters and homeowners and many younger people moving in. Cabrera said there is a unique group of people that have lived in the area for long periods.
“They have immediate needs that are very different than the other three districts,” he said. “I want to represent the people of this district. I do not want to represent the special interest groups. We do not like this ‘good ol’ boy’s network’ and we want someone who represents us again because that is the way El Cajon used to be.”
Cabrera said most children in the district go to public schools. He said the toxic chemical plumes discovered under and around Magnolia Elementary School more than 20 years ago by Ametek, that secretly dumps thousands of pounds of a toxic chemical degreaser into a pit is still major issue to current students and students past.
Cabrera said with the influx of apartment buildings from the county and city, that residential residents are losing parking places. But, he said the number one thing he hears from residents it that they need jobs.
“And they are very hard workers. Many of them came from other countries and made El Cajon their home,” he said. “They do not mind making a big commute to work, but they would rather work in El Cajon. They are all very proud to live here.”
He said despite the cleanup details that the district needs, it has some of the best sandwich, restaurants, car repair shops and small businesses in the city.
Cabrera said on COVID-19, he finds regulations and mandates lacking at the local, state and federal level.
“I understand we have new technology and the potential to flatten the curve,” he said. “For the first time in history we can communicate enough where we could potentially stop the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with this virus. I think most people here and around the world believed we had the potential to do this and said let’s attempt this. In the meantime we will prepare for the worst. Most people were behind trying this.”
Cabrera said officials need to be careful when creating laws or ordinances because politicians interpret it differently.
“So flattening the curve became stop this virus from occurring,” he said. “There is not a technology that can stop the onslaught of a disease or virus. It is still going to happen. You just need to potentially try to find a way to cope with it or correct it in a manner where you can delay it until you find a way to treat it or create a cure for it. That is quite a different goal than flattening the curve. That is where things got off track.”
Cabrera said the elderly, people with preexisting conditions or vulnerable in any way need protection the most, but people need to be able to continue what they want to do and not change the manner in which they do them.
“Things got to the point of being ridiculous and I would say it is very difficult, you have to be careful, but it you give government a little bit of power they always want to take more power,” he said. “Be very careful. Always think about what you are going to do and get historical and scientific references before you make a decision.”
Cabrera said at the beginning of the pandemic his office received many phone calls from everyday citizens in a panic. They had lost jobs and El Cajon’s Code Enforcement began enforcing code requirements to residents and businesses. He said, code enforcement should have had a new role. He said if people get reprieves from rent and other obligations, code enforcement should have been included.
“Instead of going after people and trying to get more money for the city, code enforcement should have had a new role coming and saying that they were there to help,” he said. “The city showed it’s not-so-good colors.”