Gil Sery started out in politics the hard way. He was arrested on the south steps of the nation’s capitol along with four hundred others in a Democracy Spring demonstration to get money out of politics . There were so many people, they had to be booked in a warehouse. The charges were “crowding, obstructing and incommoding—basically being a nuisance,” he says, reflecting on his harsh introduction to the world of political activism.
Sery now expresses his political views through less confrontational means. He has been webmaster and a leadership council member with Represent San Diego since 2019, and he puts his journalism background to good use contributing articles to the organization’s blog. His involvement with Represent San Diego began after working as a volunteer at the 2019 Unrig Democracy Summit, an annual convention hosted by RepresentUs. On returning to San Diego, he looked for a local chapter of RepresentUs and found Represent San Diego.
As a non-partisan independent, Sery wants to improve the lives of San Diegans by enacting political reforms that clean up campaign finance and make the democratic process more inclusive.
“We need the City Council to be beholden to its constituents,” Sery says. “Look at the election of Jennifer Campbell as City Council president. You had three-hundred people speaking on behalf of Monica Montgomery, and the Council still voted for Jennifer Campbell.”
Sery believes that two of Represent San Diego’s signature initiatives, Ranked-Choice Voting and Democracy Dollars, would go a long way towards improving San Diego’s democracy. But he foresees an uphill battle in the quest to bring Ranked-Choice Voting to the city because of opposition on the City Council and apathy from the electorate.
“I don’t think the council has the courage to pass a bill like that. I don’t think if we went through the City Council another three times that they would pass it. I think they would vote it down every time.”
Stirring up voter interest in the benefits of Ranked-Choice Voting and other democracy reforms is a challenge Represent San Diego must find a way to overcome, Sery says. To better get the word out, he would like to see Represent San Diego step up its outreach efforts.
“We need to go to the people where they are instead of expecting them to come to us. That would mean going out to Democratic clubs, to Republican clubs, to Green Party clubs, to Libertarian clubs and spreading the word about Represent San Diego.”
The battle for political reform locally and across the nation “is a marathon, not a sprint,” Sery says. On a national level, he sees two reforms as top priorities: “Gerrymandering reform and campaign finance reform, those are the two big ones. Once you’ve laid a foundation, you can pass a whole lot of other things a whole lot easier than you can right now.”
Sery warns against citizen apathy that could undermine the battle for a better democracy. “As horrible as politics is, you have to pay attention to what’s going on in the country because it’s going to affect you whether you like it or not.”
For those looking to be inspired and educated on how to be politically active, Gil Sery recommends attending workshops at the annual Unrig Summit, with the next one being held in Spring 2022. For those unable to do so for any reason, or those not wanting to wait that long, he recommends simply contacting local democracy reform organizations that need people, like Represent San Diego, and volunteering time and effort.