David Roybal said he’s been through it all. He’s experienced many of the social problems he thinks are rampant in District 3, including housing issues, witnessing violence, abuse and, maybe to a lesser extent, being shot at.
“My story’s deep. I’m the most qualified candidate from the struggle, that’s been through it,” Roybal said. “I feel having dignity isn’t sealing up your record. Having dignity is to lift from that and to know that that’s what made you as a person.”
It’s a big reason why Roybal, 31, believes he would make the best person to replace outgoing District 3 Councilman Paul Lopez. He’s not fazed by being one of five people running for the open seat, which is now among the most competitive in the city. Veronica Barela, Annie Martinez, Raymond Montoya and Jamie Torres are gunning for the Westside seat as well.
He points toward his community organizing and volunteering at schools. He advocated for changes at the RTD Decatur–Federal station to improve safety. He tries to stay on top of council affairs by watching meetings online, which he said can sometimes result in people asking him where he’s getting all this “secret” info about new police contracts or developments.
“When we have politicians that are making decisions, they never been to a jail, they’ve never been in a gang. They’ve never been in the project, never been poor,” Roybal said.
He’s been a part of the Sun Valley Community Coalition since 2007. He currently works at Alsco, cleaning restaurant napkins in the city’s Elyria Swansea neighborhood. After attending Lake Middle School, he split high school time between Denver West and North High schools.
“I’m focusing on the people,” Roybal said. “I’m just a normal person that’s been through it. And you know, my life is committed to public services.”
Roybal hopes to build on his family’s legacy of activism in the neighborhood.
He identifies as a Chicano. His family took part of in Westside school walkouts and his family worked alongside Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.
“My family is in this book right here,” Roybal said, pulling out a copy of Phil Goldstein’s “How the West Side Won.”
“This is how far back it goes. This is the whole, you know, the Westside history,” Roybal said.
One concern he hopes to tackle is the division within the Latino community in the district. Roybal said there’s a divide between the “corporate Hispanics” and the “working-class, middle-class, Latinx” community.
He’s interested in creating a community organizing department in the city to balance the public-private partnership the city facilities. Roybal wants to make sure residents get a chance to offer as much input as possible about new projects (at the moment, some Sun Valley residents are pretty excited about incoming development).
“My life is committed to serving this city because I know the people, I know the problems, and that’s what the City Council needs,” Roybal said. “They need people that been there, that know about removal from the home, that lost nephews, that’s been in the system and know what works.”