National City Responds As a Community to COVID-19

As the country faces a spike in infections, many cities are rethinking their reopening strategies to ensure their residents remain safe while moving towards normalcy. In National City, CA, the second oldest city in San Diego County, Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis is urging her residents to stay the course.

As the California governor revisits openings of restaurants and bars, slowing the state’s move to full re-opening, local leaders are doing their part to continue to flatten the curve and mitigate another outbreak of the novel coronavirus in their community.

Mayor Solis talks about the encouragement she got from her community after announcing very tough decisions to keep residents safe.

Q&A with Mayor Alejandra Solis

alejandra_Sotelo_SolisNational City is located in the south bay region of San Diego. The city has a population of approximately 58, 000. Mayor Solis was first elected to the National City Council in 2009, only the second woman elected to the council. In 2018, she was elected the first Latina mayor of National City. In this Q&A, Mayor Solis talks about how she is using technology and partnerships to mitigate the COVID-19 and her greatest barrier to this global pandemic.

What personal barriers have you faced in responding to COVID-19 in your community and how have you overcome them?

I have found that many in my constituents in my community have followed me on social media platforms and have shared with me a variety of concerns around residential and commercial evictions, parking citations to price gouging, and reports of those not in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
The challenging part of this is providing information to ALL those various online and social media concerns however, it allows me to connect with those concerned citizens in real-time, with expertise and allows for stronger civic engagement.

What role has technology played in keeping your city up and running – give an example, if possible?

Our city’s social media channels and website have been integral to providing up to date information and reaching a broad constituency. However, it is also limited because not everyone is online or using those social media platforms.

We also hosted our first-ever online zoom council meeting, and it went well despite starting 25 minutes late because it had not linked up to our webcast properly and I had to keep muting and un-muting our council members.

How are you, as a mayor, rethinking public-private partnerships to change policy around serving the needs of your residents? (i.e. Gov. Cuomo on 3.30.2020 gathered public and private hospital systems and arrived at a policy to serve the full state’s health needs which had not ever been achieved.)

It’s important to include current and future P3 partnerships when addressing immediate and long-term needs post COVID-19. We started a #DiscoverNationalCity hashtag to work with our small businesses to share their menus, to-go specials, and ways to support their endeavors.

Public-private partnerships will definitely help us meet our budgetary needs that will continue to grow due to this slowdown in our economy.


About the AuthorMelissa Williams is a communications and marketing manager at NLC. She supports NLC’s membership and partnership teams.



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