The Toni Times | November 2023

November 1, 2023

Note from Toni




Happy November! Having survived the ghosts and goblins who came a-calling last night, our holiday thoughts now turn to the wonderful celebration of Thanksgiving that will be here before we know it. As always, I’m thankful for the people who grow and harvest the food that we eat. According to the San Diego Department of Weights and Measures, San Diego County has over 5,000 farms – more than any other county in the United States! Those farms grow more than 200 different agricultural commodities, including the beautiful flowers that our local farmers produce, which decorate so many tables at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. From farm workers to grocery clerks, so many people deserve our thanks each and every day, and especially at this time of year!

I am also very thankful for the veterans we honor every November 11 on Veterans Day. Following the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel last month, and all the events that have followed, the horrors of war are once again right before our eyes. It’s important to take this time to remember that everyone who puts on our nation’s uniform makes sacrifices—and so do their families. Helping ease the burdens on military families and ensuring veterans have full access to the benefits they have earned is the very least we can do.

This November also marks a solemn occasion, the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While I was only a year old and too young to remember that tragedy, I do know the impact it had on my parents and other people who experienced it for years afterward. I learned later about some of the vicious attack ads that were made against the President in newspapers in Dallas and other communities. And that reminds me, sadly, of the toxic political climate in our country today.

When Jacqueline Kennedy died, the conservative political columnist Peggy Noonan paid tribute to her patriotism and how she helped hold the country together during those dark days. I wonder if that kind of magnanimity and respect is even possible today.  I hope so – we need it to be. And we owe it to ourselves and to the future to do everything we can to build bridges and make it that way. That doesn’t mean accepting extremism in any form, but taking a reasonable approach where we can find common ground. We must make the effort to reach out to those who can be reached.

Maybe that’s a good goal to consider with the holidays approaching. Reaching out and reconnecting with the best in each other – and in ourselves.  We may not be able to recreate Camelot, and maybe both ideals of Camelot were ultimately mythical, but we can always do better.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!


SB 519 Signed Into Law




Senate Bill 519, my legislation to increase transparency and accountability for jails and local detention facilities relating to in-custody deaths, has been signed into law by Governor Newsom.

SB 519, which will take effect on January 1, 2024 and becomes operative on July 1, 2024, increases accountability in jails and local detention facilities by making investigatory reports of an in-custody death conducted by a sheriff’s department public in an effort to reduce future deaths. The legislation also creates the position of Director of In-Custody Death Review within the Board of State and Community Corrections, who will be responsible for reviewing investigations of in-custody deaths and making recommendations relating to policies, procedures, staffing, and other factors.

Unfortunately, jails and local detention centers in several areas of the state have been slow to address internal issues relating to the increase in deaths of persons in custody. SB 519 will increase transparency and oversight in order to provide answers for families of people who have died in custody and work to reduce in-custody deaths.

I was also pleased the Governor signed AB 268, a complementary bill by Assemblymember Akilah Weber that I co-authored. Responding to State Auditors recommendations, the legislation changes the composition of the Board of State and Community Corrections to include both a medical professional and mental health professional. The bill also requires the Board to adopt standards of care pertaining to incarcerated persons with mental health issues.


Veterans Day




Coming from a military family, Veterans Day has always been meaningful to me. My father, two brothers, twin sister, brother-in-law, two uncles, two cousins, two nephews, and grandfather all served in the Armed Forces. 

Supporting veterans in our 39th District community is a true honor, and among my highest priorities. My colleagues and I continue to work on behalf of veterans and military families, and this year, passed legislation targeted at improving their lives, including streamlining the home-buying process for disabled veterans and making public higher education more affordable for children of service-injured veterans. 

Our San Diego community also has many opportunities to honor the contributions America’s veterans have made to our nation this Veterans Day. Events in our region include:

To our veterans, current members of the military, and their families: Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices you have made for our country.


Around the District




Jen and I had a purrfect night out with Joey, Mia, and their furiends at the San Diego Humane Society’s 37th Annual Fur Ball! It’s a great way to support the work the Humane Society does helping animals find loving adoptive homes.




Happy Golden Anniversary to the San Diego LGBT Community Center! For 50 years it has been the place where community gathers in times of celebration or crisis, while promoting civic engagement and social justice, and being a safe space where LGBTQ folks can receive the services and support they need. I wish them the best for many more impactful years to come.




So far this year, 49 states have introduced over 500 anti-trans bills, seeking to deny access to basic health care, legal recognition, bathrooms, athletics, or the right to openly exist in public schools. As of this October, 83 of those have been signed into law. TransYouth Liberation will fight to ensure the safety and equality of trans and nonbinary youth, and I will fight alongside them.




As the nation’s second busiest intercity rail corridor, providing safe and reliable service on the LOSSAN corridor is a top priority. The Senate secured $300 million for the project development of the Del Mar realignment to move tracks further inland, away from quickly eroding coastline bluffs. Service disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable and unsustainable. I met with stakeholders, government agencies, and elected officials to continue working collaboratively on a unified vision as we move forward to provide dependable rail service throughout California.




The United Ways of California’s bi-annual Real Cost Measure study demonstrates what it really takes to make ends meet in California, including costs of housing, food, health care, child care, transportation and taxes. I appreciate the advocacy work they and our community partners do for policies and programs to uplift all families. 




In 1977, Fahari Jeffers and Ken Seaton-Msemaji formed the United Domestic Workers of America organizing committee under the mentorship of labor leader and civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez. This photographic exhibit on the first 28 years of the UDW paints a powerful picture of one of our nation’s most important unions. The UDW is now over 171,000 members strong!




The San Diego Military Advisory Council’s annual Military Economic Impact Report is a crucial reminder of the important role our military community has on San Diego’s economy. The MEIR also helps every level of government understand the specific needs of service members and veterans.




San Diego is a military town, and it’s important that we have strong working relationships with leadership. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Captain Robert “Bob” Heely, Commanding Officer of Naval Base San Diego, on important issues like transportation, climate change, and housing.



For 50 years, Casa Familiar has been improving the lives of South San Diego residents. Their Avanzando San Ysidro Community Land Trust continues that commitment, and I’m proud to have secured funding for this project that’ll create stable housing options and ownership opportunities for over 100 families.




Congratulations to the Mira Mesa Town Council on your 23rd annual street fair! The community spirit was strong, and the performances were excellent. Thank you to all the volunteers who made it a success!




Team Toni supported community events all across San Diego in October! District representatives from my office attended the San Diego LGBT Center’s AIDS Walk and Run, an event with the House of Korea in Balboa Park, a Picnic in the Park with the San Diego Sierra Club, a musical celebration with Classics 4 Kids, the groundbreaking of affordable housing at San Diego City College, the California Association of Black School Educators Conference, the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Gala, an event with Stepping Stone of San Diego, the Just in Time for Foster Youth Empowered Women’s BBQ, and the Burlingame Neighborhood Association Block Party.



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