Rocking the Boat in CD 14

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Nadine Momoyo Diaz is a candidate in the Little Tokyo/Boyle Heights area.

Nadine Momoyo Diaz, candidate for Council District 14, speaks with volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Boyle Heights.

Nadine Momoyo Diaz, candidate for Council District 14, speaks with volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Boyle Heights.

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu English Editor-in-Chief

Nadine Momoyo Diaz isn’t intimidated by the political heavyweights running to represent Council District 14. While the CD 14 election has been characterized as a two-person race between incumbent Councilmember Jose Huizar and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, Diaz is determined to have her voice heard.

Diaz will be participating in a CD 14 town hall and debate at Luther Burbank Middle School on Feb. 12. The primary election takes place on Tuesday, March 3. Diaz’s name will appear first on the ballot, which also includes John O’Neill, a community political consultant, and Mario Chavez, an activist and union organizer.

“We need better leadership, I believe I reflect the district,” Diaz said in an interview with The Rafu Shimpo.

Nadine Momoyo Diaz (Photo by MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Nadine Momoyo Diaz (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Diaz, 52, is a third-generation Mexican American and a fourth-generation Japanese American. Her father, Anthony Diaz, is an anesthesiologist. Her mother, Kimiko Shirley Imai Diaz, studied banking at East L.A. Community College and worked at a bank in Little Tokyo.

Diaz said her mom often shared stories about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Mom was born in Tule Lake. She always says that it can happen again,” Diaz said.

The candidate added that her mom was a classmate of the late Frances Hashimoto at Roosevelt High School. Diaz would often interact with Hashimoto, who was a key community leader in Little Tokyo.

“Frances would share with me what was happening in Little Tokyo,” Diaz recalled. “In Little Tokyo there is a huge transformation going on here. It’s important to retain the history and culture.”

Diaz received her masters in social work from USC and works as the recruitment manager at the USC Memory and Aging Center. She manages the recruitment and retention of all participants/patients enrolled in research for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and clinical trials. Other responsibilities include advocacy, legislation, policy, and public and government relations at the local, state and federal levels.

A resident of Boyle Heights, Diaz is co-founder of the Evergreen Jogging Path and served as an elected member of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Project Area Committee and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Review Advisory Committee, representing residents and small business owners.

She pointed to CRA projects such as the Eastside Adelante Redevelopment Plan as examples of the importance of community input in city politics.

“I’m concerned when people are not informed about what is happening in their community. I believe people who are impacted have a right to provide input,” she said.

Fiancé Efren Moreno, a former Alhambra councilmember, is her campaign manager. Diaz continues to work at USC while walking the district and meeting as many voters as possible.

“Mom said, ‘I didn’t raise you to rock the boat.’ I said, ‘But Mom, sometimes you have to rock the boat,’” Diaz said.

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