Written by Julianne Foster
Many politicians dictating the responses to COVID-19 are solely concerned with public health, rather than also considering the economic impact this shutdown is having on Californians. This may simply be because they don’t understand what many people are going through.
San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate is a rarity among politicians in California, and has consistently offered a far more balanced focus between public safety and the financial needs of families and businesses. He explains his situation as being somewhat unaffected by the virus since he and his wife have been allowed to keep their jobs and their kids are still able to attend daycare. “It’s an atypical situation, I realize… I can only imagine the many families who are now holding tough conversations at the dinner table and having to make some pretty tough decisions.”
Cate goes on to explain the situation a Mira Mesa business owner told him, of whom Cate has been a longtime customer. The owner is currently in a tough situation determining if he has enough savings to keep the business open until the unknown end of the lockdown, or to let his employees go and shut down the business to find a new way to provide for his family. Many business owners seem to be facing similar situations, even those who have had family businesses dating several generations.
Although it was arguably the right call initially to lock down society to flatten the curve since information about the virus was unknown to us, Cate recognizes it has now gone too far. Small businesses were unfairly shut down while “big box stores” were allowed to stay open. The goals of government officials changed from “flatten the curve” to “we cannot open until we eradicate the coronavirus,” which is “both unrealistic and exceedingly unfair to the general public and San Diego” as noted out by Councilman Cate.
“The coronavirus is serious. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Maintain at least six feet of distance,” Cate added. “Stay home if you are among the vulnerable. Stay home if you are sick. Or just stay home.” He encourages that everyones obeys the safety guidelines as he values everyone’s safety.
“Small businesses account for 98 percent of all San Diego companies… As a former small business owner and chair of the city’s Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee, I take my role of supporting the thousands of regional business owners and employees seriously,” he explained. “This year, the committee’s focus was supposed to be on developing and expanding economic opportunities for San Diegans. Instead, we are desperately trying to save businesses, jobs and all the livelihoods that are attached to them.”
Cate has been heavily involved with helping San Diegans from the start of the pandemic, launching relief funding for landlords, local breweries, and essential businesses. He has worked to serve communities with local organizations and has reached out to support the mental and emotional health of people throughout the county.
“I, for one, feel obligated to be their voice. To be their advocate,” Councilman Cate concluded. “It is time. It has been time. We must save our small businesses.”