Cristina Medina Dirksen is a 20-year resident of Marina, mother of triplets and wife of a firefighter. She works for a county-wide nonprofit. For the last 20 years, Cristina has watched Marina City Council. As a former Monterey Herald news reporter, she covered the city as well as its public safety. She has been a champion of the community — fighting for funding for essential services, roads and programs for our children. In her service as the President of the Friends of Marina Library, it has grown and thrived. With three children raised in Marina, she has been instrumental in supporting youth sports and after school activities. She embraces our diverse community and attempts to serve those traditionally marginalized. A vote for Cristina is a vote for our children, our families, our elders and for diversity.
Why are you running for City Council?
After a conversation in 2017 fueled by optimism, I was inspired with the belief that Marina MUST do better. After learning about constantly breaking down fire trucks, I took a closer look at our city.
Seeing for myself those after-school skaters at the Marina Youth Center and others packed inside doing homework or playing basketball and the younger ones at the Marina Community Center, I wondered why can’t Marina do more?
Why are our streets full of potholes and one storm away from being washed out? Why are there NO RESTROOMS in our parks (as a mom of triplets, that became my biggest beef)? Why can’t our public safety be proud to work in our wonderfully diverse community? Why don’t I see members of our city council out and about at community events, even the grocery store?
I watched as our police and fire were in an era of jadedness. The City Council’s never seeming to have a grip on how to improve our streets, the blight, the embarrassing entryway to town or calling our after-school recreation centers that attract hundreds of young community members “glorified babysitting.”
That 2017 conversation got me fired up to organize with others to convince YOU, the voters, that change could only happen with your support. In 2018 when members of the city council opted not to support and adopt ballot measures to bring new funds to town, I walked Marina and talked to you about our three citizen-led initiatives. Measures N, a half-cent sales tax, P a hotel tax and V allowing dispensaries were ways to boost our lowly tax base. That council eventually had no choice but to put them on the ballot after citizens spoke with their signatures.
What did you learn from your conversations with residents of Marina?
You told me you needed trust in your leaders. You were tired of the same things I was. And I promised to show up at every council meeting to support the things that matter to us.
Those measures all passed, thanks to you. I attended every council meeting that had to do with budget planning (and more) and, as promised, advocated for what I promised you.
Those measures brought about $3 million to Marina’s general fund — funding two new fire trucks, four new fire positions, and a 20-year street improvement plan.
What did you learn from attending those council meetings and planning meetings?
Most importantly, I was proud that you trusted me to lead that charge of change.
As I watched council, the dynamics were embarrassing and shocking. Blatant disrespect, with council members rolling eyes, actually pivoting their swinging chairs so as not to make eye contact. A majority pact of three emerged that made decisions that left me embarrassed for our citizenry.
As my elderly neighbors walked my neighborhood fearing falls because of uneven sidewalks, campaign finance was championed. This in a city where in the last election candidates ran unopposed.
Then redistricting. Maps carving up our city in voting districts were adopted clearly favoring those who had seats and wouldn’t have to run against one another and with no outreach, other than “come to us meetings” that attracted few. I personally let owner friends of a Mexican market know and they let me talk to Spanish-speaking patrons.
Coupled with an attempt to remove your right to vote for Mayor, our voting rights have been threatened. Decisions made for self-serving reasons must cease in Marina.
What will you bring to the Marina City Council?
Marina residents deserve more from their leaders. They deserve to feel confidence that their voice is heard and respected and that someone is fighting to fix their streets, give us better parks/recreational opportunities and support for fire and police. I am running for Marina City Council for those reasons – for you.
Learn more: cristina4marinacitycouncil.com