Eddie Flores has made championing for his community his life’s work. An immigrant from war-torn El Salvador, Eddie grew up in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. While attending Westmoor High School in Daly City, Eddie discovered his passion for volunteer work within the community and his power to give back and be a changemaker. He graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in public policy and public health and then earned an MBA from San Francisco State University.
This January, Eddie was appointed to the South San Francisco (SSF) City Council, becoming the first Salvadoran to serve on a City Council within San Mateo County. Although the Latinx community makes up about forty percent of South San Francisco’s population, Eddie is just the second Latino to serve on the City Council. Before his appointment, Eddie served as SSF Unified School District Board President. Live & Thrive CA got a chance to congratulate Eddie on his new appointment and asked him about how his life of service started and what he hopes to achieve in his new position.
What got you interested in community service, education, public policy and public health?
My interest in community service began while I attended Westmoor High School in Daly City. I felt passionate about volunteering my time to make a positive difference, even though I was often the only Latino in the volunteer groups. The willingness to give back and represent my community propelled me to start my volunteer service early on in life, which ultimately led me to earn the graduating class’ Service Award in Westmoor’s Hall of Fame.
My passion for education, public policy, and public health stems from the fact that there have been significant and ongoing institutional inequities that for far too long have disproportionately affected the Latinx community in catastrophic ways. Growing up, the prevalence of these was evident and affected family members and many communities of color. Understanding these gaps, I set out to learn and dive deeper into these important subjects, to shed light on these inequities, and engage in equity conversations to propel systemic change in these areas.
How will the time you spent on the SSF Unified School District Board of Trustees and as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation help you be a good City Councilmember?
I think the time I spent serving my community in these roles has allowed me to see the need in the community and has enabled me to foster the relationships needed to be successful. These relationships will help augment my work on City Council and give me insight to help elevate the voices of those who don’t necessarily have a seat at the table. Through these previous roles, I have studied and educated myself on many of the intricacies within our city and our government and understand our community’s needs.
Do you feel pressure in representing the Latinx community, nearly half the population in SSF?
I don’t think pressure is the word I would use, but rather proud and extremely honored and humbled—representation matters. With the recent appointments from Governor Newsom of individuals of color to recently vacated statewide offices, I am proud my colleagues on our City Council were brave enough to acknowledge and value who was missing at this table. For a city where Latinx people represent over one-third of the population, my service is a prime opportunity to send a clear message of the value this City Council places on representation.
Given you are an immigrant from El Salvador and have personally experienced struggle and now have deep community roots in the SF Bay Area, what ideas do you have for addressing the systemic issues marginalized people of color face?
Systemic issues require multi-prong actions and sometimes out-of-the-box ideas. I truly believe it takes a strong group of allies and supporters who understand the collaboration that needs to happen. I am looking forward to uplifting these systemic issues which have marginalized the BIPOC community and double-down on the work that lies ahead. My ideas are based on helping to elevate and advocate for those with the greatest needs. I see my role to serve as a dedicated steward to make decisions for the community, not for personal gain. I aim to be reflective, fair, financially prudent and create solutions to improve their livelihood.
How do you take care of yourself so that you can take care of your city?
I am a firm believer in taking care of oneself and each other, and through my faith in God, I’ve learned to lean and trust in Him to renew my strength every day. In my free time, I am a big sports fan and root for the Warriors, Giants and Cal Bears. I am also an avid runner and enjoy cooking and discovering new hidden gems hiking around the Bay Area.
What’s next for Eddie Flores?
I am deeply excited for the work that lies ahead in this role, and I’m fully focused on representing the constituents of South San Francisco. The huge impact COVID-19 has had on our most vulnerable populations, coupled with housing and food insecurities, keeps me up at night and are issues I am looking forward to working on. I’ll also lean-in on the continuing dialogue to address the racial inequities and disparities within our community and increase support for our middle-class residents and new families. Lastly, I’m equally concerned about the housing affordability crisis and ensuring a housing to jobs ratio that makes sense for our city. I look forward to working with my colleagues on all of these issues.
By Eva Barrows