In early June 1968, when my dad was a Councilman, Senator Robert Kennedy came to Chula Vista to campaign for the Democratic nomination for President. He spoke to a large crowd outside the old city offices on Fourth Avenue, standing on the back of a flat-bed truck. My dad stood on that truck along with Lance Alworth, and several others. He had the honor of introducing Robert Kennedy to the crowd.
Senator Kennedy was wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves. He spoke with a shaky voice, but was very charismatic—you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Dad said later that Kennedy was so exhausted that he was literally shaking with exhaustion. After the speech, Kennedy shook hands with the crowd surging around that flat-bed truck. To keep him from being pulled into the crowd by eager hands, Dad and others on the truck put their arms around him to support Kennedy while he leaned over to shake as many hands as he could reach. It was only a short time after that that Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles on June 5th, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
The city council achievement of which my dad was most proud was the building of the Chula Vista central library on the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street, which was dedicated in 1976 during the country’s bicentennial celebration. Chula Vista desperately needed a new central library, but a bond issue was defeated by Chula Vista voters. Determined to have a new library, Dad and the council looked for another way to fund the project. Despite a lot of controversy over the use of the Federal money for construction, the library was finally built. The plaque on the outside of the library building lists the names of the members of the City Councilmembers who served when the library was dedicated. My dad’s name on that plaque was a tremendous source of pride for him for the rest of his life and a legacy to the Chula Vista City Council’s wisdom during those years.
My dad was born and raised in Texas, but he loved living in Chula Vista and he felt called to serve the citizens of the South Bay. He never thought of himself as a politician, but as a public servant. He served as councilman, mayor, and county supervisor with the sole purpose of trying to make Chula Vista and the South Bay a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.