As San Diego County approaches the November 8th midterm election, many local seats will be on the ballot. Poway will see a significant transition after this year’s election, as half of the community’s council members are expected to retire. Additionally, voters will have a Mayoral race on the ballot as well. One of the first candidates to declare their intention to run for City Council is Hiram Soto, who some say is the most extreme candidate to ever run for Poway City Council.
Hiram Soto was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and moved to Poway in 2015. Upon arriving in Poway, he put into motion a long-term plan to run for City Council, pushing for a new “district election” system in Poway as early as 2017. In 2018 he became involved in a lawsuit against the City of Poway on behalf of the California League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Upon hearing about the upcoming retirement of longtime incumbent Dave Grosch, Soto quickly took the opportunity to run, declaring his candidacy for Poway City Council in February 2022. The district he is running in is District 1 which encompasses western Poway.
A History of Left-Wing Activism
Hiram Soto has a long history of left-wing activism, going back to his time as a reporter. He has written articles titled “Why District Elections Are Needed in Poway,” and worked for an L.A. newspaper named Hoy Los Ángeles. He infamously wrote a commentary in June 2019 titled “Why San Diego needs a new border vision,” in which he said “When people ask me where I am from, I often say proudly that I’m from Tijuana, San Diego’s liveliest neighborhood. I then explain that I live in San Diego, Tijuana’s finest neighborhood.”
Soto’s activism reached a new level when he was hired as Communications Director for a shadowy dark-money political organization named Alliance San Diego in 2016, where he remained until shortly after the 2020 Presidential election. The group, founded as Equity Alliance in 2007, is a political organization that exists to “build collective power” in order to “make systemic change and shape a future that belongs to all of us,” according to their website. They’re best known for ballot harvesting operations across San Diego County; an activity that is a felony in many other states.
According to their website, Alliance San Diego “builds power” by “engaging communities, advocating for policies, protecting civil and human rights, and communicating strategically.” They have influenced the outcome of numerous elections in the region, even boasting that they reached “over 1 million people across San Diego County” during the 2021 Gubernatorial recall and “over 5 million social media ad impressions” as part of their ballot harvesting operations. Because they are registered as a nonprofit, their donors are not publicly disclosed, though they reported $4.6 million in revenue in 2020 with 118 organizers on staff.
Opposition to Law Enforcement
Hiram Soto’s Alliance San Diego is loudly opposed to law enforcement and our existing criminal justice system. They’ve said that “police departments and officers alike must be held accountable,” they refer to the Border Patrol as “the MOST corrupt law enforcement agency in the United States,” and, in a call to defund the police, said last year that the city must “divest from policing” and that the city’s budget “must support funding alternatives” to policing.
They’ve supported the Black Lives Matter movement and posted on their Facebook page that “Policing has always been a part of the system of oppression which disproportionately targets Black people.”
What is Hiram Soto’s “New Border Vision?”
Hiram Soto refers to San Diego as “Tijuana’s finest neighborhood” and served as Communications Director for the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a subsidiary of Alliance San Diego, where he advocated for a “New Border Vision” plan – a call for open borders.
Soto Stood on the Steps of Berkeley City Hall in 2020 to Call for Open Borders
In 2020, Hiram stood at a press conference with Jesse Arreguín, the Mayor of Berkeley, California, as well as Judy Appel, President of the Berkeley Unified School District, who said “We are proud that we are the first school district to endorse the New Border Vision. We don’t ask. We don’t care.” You can watch the press conference here.
A Supporter of Mexico’s Zapatista Revolutionaries
Hiram Soto publicly aligns with Mexico’s Zapatista Front of National Liberation, posting #YoConElEZLN in his profile header on MuckRack, a social media site where those in the media share their work. The Zapatistas are a violent armed revolutionary movement in the Chiapas region of Southern Mexico and have been referred to as “Mexico’s Masked Marxists.” The group’s communist roots are well-documented and they are best known for kidnapping elected officials, armed conflicts with the government of Mexico, and breaking violent criminals out of jail.
Is Hiram Soto Too Extreme for Poway?
Hiram Soto would be a radical departure from the long history of good governance that Poway has experienced under decades of thoughtful, independent, and moderate public servants. Hiram Soto on the City Council would change the community of Poway forever.