October-November 2022 Advocate: Eddie Flores, Skyline professor, candidate for SSF city council

November 8 Election

Eddie Flores, Skyline professor and AFT 1493 member, is running for South San Francisco City Council

Eddie Flores teaches in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Skyline College, is a member of AFT 1493 and is a candidate for the South San Francisco City Council who has been endorsed by the San Mateo County Labor Council. In the interview below, Eddie discusses his background as a Salvadoran immigrant and his experience working in community service and for social and labor justice. Eddie’s campaign is holding open phonebanking every day from 4 – 8 pm. If you’d like to volunteer to join the phonebanking, please click here to fill out the sign-up form.

Eddie Flores

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your life was like up to the point you joined the SSF City Council.

I’ve been a lifelong advocate for children and families. I have over 20 years of progressive experience in public, private, non-profit, and educational arenas. Early on after college, I worked as a science aid teaching elementary school students and fought to ensure high quality childcare for school-aged children. I have a proven track record of being a collaborative leader. I’m a teacher, immigrant, former South San Francisco Parks and Recreation Commissioner and former South San Francisco Unified School District Board President, and have the great honor to currently serve as South San Francisco’s councilmember.

My family immigrated out of El Salvador when I was 7 to escape the civil war. Having seen my single mother work three jobs to make ends meet, I understand the struggles and sacrifices of our working-class and immigrant community. This combined with my passion to serve and being an advocate for those most vulnerable drove me to serve in the community that I grew up in, a community I love.

What made you want to be part of the Council, and why are you running to continue serving?

We made history last year, when I became South City’s first Salvadoran immigrant to serve on a city council in the history of San Mateo County and only the second Latino in the 120+yr history of our beautiful city. I was honored to have been selected from over 17 applicants to this role. As a council, I’m humbled to share that we have worked hard for our residents and I have hit the ground running from day one. I am running for South San Francisco’s District 5 to continue to bring a much needed voice and representation to this District. I am running because there is still much work to be done and I have the courage to fight to ensure that the quality of life for all of our residents is top priority. Yes, the work is just getting started and there is much more work that needs to be done.

SSF’s District 5 community has not received the resources it deserves and I am committed to addressing displacement and gentrification in District 5; continuing to work to make housing more affordable, bring new parks and green open spaces to Old Town and clean up Airport Blvd, including east of 101;  beautify Pecks Lot, and other areas that have been far neglected for way too long and create a safer Linden Avenue corridor with better lighting. Support investments and better access for Seniors and bring about strong mental health services and programs to our community, expand childcare and preschool access and services, address climate change and sustainability and support local community-based economic development.

What have been some of your proudest accomplishments and moments during your time on SSF City Council so far?

I have worked hard since the pandemic hit, to ensure that our vibrant downtown was not decimated. A place  that’s home to new business and residents, I’ve hit the ground running from day one on City Council to ensure there was help brought to our residents. Together in my first year on council:

  • We led the creation of a guaranteed basic income pilot program,
  • Passed a $5 Hazard Pay ordinance for our essential grocery store workers,
  • Secured over $100 million in affordable housing funds,
  • Passed strong environmental regulations for new buildings,
  • Voted & adopted Vision Zero to eliminate all traffic fatalities & severe injuries.

During this Pandemic, we brought immediate relief to our community by:

  • Creating a Shop Local free $40 gift card distribution program in partnership with our chamber of commerce
  • Created an initial pilot program to deter catalytic converter thefts, and backed it up with emergency ordinance declaring possession of such illegal in South City
  • Voted to support the final financing and opening of the new South San Francisco Caltrain Station,
  • Voted in favor of creating a new city commission on equity and public safety and Youth Commission
  • As well as created the award-winning: Every Kid Deserves a Free Bike Program.

This only happened because people from all over our community came together with a vision and firm belief that a better future was possible. While we have accomplished much over the past two years, there is still much work to be done!

You’ve been endorsed by the San Mateo County Labor Council, which represents labor unions across the county, and of course you’re a member of our local. What are your thoughts on being a union member? What do unions mean to you, your family, and your community in South San Francisco?

Being born in El Salvador and immigrating to this country at the age of 7 escaping the civil war in the 1980s, I have seen first hand the sacrifices of working families, and those that like many in my family, took on multiple lower-wage, blue-collar jobs to make a living. Having seen my single mother work three jobs to make ends meet in the hospitality industry, without union representation, left a profound impact on me, growing up. Early on, I became acutely aware of the struggles and sacrifices that my family members and others often endured without worker’s rights. Having had this unique lived experience, and perspective I see this endorsement through a different lens. The lens of representing and fighting for the people, and not for myself. I know that an endorsement and support of Labor means more than a vote of support for my campaign. It signifies that one of the most important and largest labor union groups of hardworking individuals and families, has my back, understands that they have a friend in me, and that each member knows they can reach out to me at any point and time. Through great wins and the possible challenges, it means that we are in it for the long run. It means that the membership of each local understands that I am deeply committed to continue to lift and amplify the voice of the membership, especially that of educators, and take on bold actions to fight for fair and equal rights, during my entire term of office and not only during campaign season. More than a vote of confidence, it is a vote of solidarity, bringing about a full circle moment for me, having a group of colleagues and advocates who know I will always work hard in South City and elsewhere to ensure that they are never forgotten or ignored. 

Tell us more about the hospitality program at Skyline. What do you train students to do, and what are your favorite parts of working there?

Skyline College’s Hospitality and Tourism program is a thriving program housed within the Business Hospitality and Tourism Management focuses on preparing students with the experience, commitment, and skills they need for management, marketing and operations within the hospitality and tourism service industry. I am skilled in training students to gain the necessary knowledge and skills required to manage and make intelligent business decisions within a food and beverage operation or department; with a focus on: standards determination; variable, semi-variable and fixed costs; the operating budget; income and cost control and menu pricing.My favorite part of working is the diversity and inclusion components and the ability to meet students where they are in every way, each day. 

What are your top two priorities to improve South San Francisco that you will put into practice if you’re elected to another term?

As a community, we are facing rising costs of living, skyrocketing rents, unjust evictions, displacement, drought and climate change, and more. I will make it my mission to fight to ensure that the quality of life for all of our residents is top priority, including by:

  • Address displacement and gentrification in District 5 and continue to work to make housing more affordable.
  • In addition I will work hard to bring new parks and green open spaces to the historic Old Town area of SSF and clean up Airport Blvd, including east of 101, beautify Pecks Lot, and other areas that have been far neglected for way too long and create a safer Linden Avenue corridor with better lighting.

Who can members or students reach out to if they want to volunteer for your campaign?

We have a growing grassroots campaign with great momentum from teachers, labor union members, community residents, small business owners and people from all walks of life and generations. Join us by visiting EddieSSF.com and sign up to volunteer!

Finally, what’s one thing most of your colleagues may not know about you?

I love coffee in every form and every kind and type. Take me out to coffee any day!