The Toni Times | August 2022


Happy August! And, if I may say so myself, Happy Birthday to us!

Sixty years ago today, my sister Tenia and I became official residents of Planet Earth, the United States, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Quite an accomplishment for two little girls! And what an amazing journey it has been since then.

To mark this occasion, I thought it would be nice to have Tenia share a few words in this month’s note, though many of the words she likes to use best, we may have to edit out before sending! Because Tenia is the youngest and insists that she has never, ever gotten to go first, I’ve asked her to start.


Hello to all my former neighbors in San Diego! I do have to say that I may not have been the first born, but I was the first of us Atkins’ to come to San Diego!  Well except for Dad in WWII of course!

When I was enlisted in the Navy, I asked Toni if she could move out and help with my newborn son. I think she set a Land Speed Record getting here, and clearly, it was love at first sight! Over the years, one of the things I’ve appreciated about Toni is the support she still gives military families, especially those having trouble making ends meet.  Having lived in Virginia and San Diego, myself, I also love how she has been able to bridge those two worlds together. Where I think she is wrong, though, is when she starts…


–Thanks Tenia, Happy Birthday and I’ll take it from here!

August is going to be busy in the Capitol. We have to deal with all remaining bills and budget fixes by the end of the month. That means as soon as I’m done safely blowing out the candles, I’ll be part of the final negotiations for important bills on climate; women’s health care and abortion access, including my bill SB 1375; and worker protections, as well as casting votes on bills that will improve our state on behalf of all Californians. This follows some great work in June, when the Legislature passed one of the best state budgets in history, with funding that helps people now, invests in the future, and includes safeguards in the event of an economic downturn. The budget also provides many local benefits, which you can read about in this edition of the newsletter.  I am also pleased that SCA 10, my bill to enshrine abortion and reproductive rights in the state constitution, passed both houses of the Legislature before its June 30 deadline, and will appear on the November 2022 ballot as Proposition 1.

This is such an unusual and concerning time in our area, our state, and our nation. With many of our rights under attack, it feels as if our communities, friends, and families are drifting farther and farther apart. I have to believe that division isn’t permanent, however. Rather, it is a temporary situation created by dark-monied, dark-intentioned forces pumping their poison into our society. We have to look at everything we can do to push back and make our politics healthy again. Clearly, organizing and voting are two big components of that.

But it’s also important to remember who we are, and who the people we know, and work with, and live by, and love, are and focus on the value of those relationships. The long-term stability of our nation depends on a majority of us finding common ground and casting aside extremists of every persuasion. As Tenia said, building bridges is important. Maybe never more important than it is right now.

Thank you for reading.  And thank you, Tenia, for being the best sister—younger, older, whatever—that any twin could hope for!



Thanks to the state’s fiscal health and responsible budgeting by the Legislature and the Governor, our local legislative delegation was successful in obtaining more than $485 million in the 2022-23 state budget for projects and programs that will help address critical infrastructure needs and support innovative social service programs in the San Diego region. 

The LOSSAN rail realignment project in Del Mar, the second busiest intercity rail corridor in the nation, will receive $300 million to ensure it can continue to play a critical role in the movement of people and goods within the Southern California region. The tracks are located at the top of the Del Mar bluffs, which are eroding an average of six inches per year. The bluffs experienced a partial collapse in February 2021, necessitating emergency repairs. This funding will expedite the planning process to move the tracks inland as a long-term strategy to increase the reliability of passenger rail service.

By looking at this budget through an equity lens, we were able to prioritize projects with an emphasis on underserved communities. For example, $15 million will be used to help address water quality issues from cross-border rivers and $5.5 million will support the Regional Task Force on the Homeless’s efforts to fund homeless outreach to BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. Additional funding will help support the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s redevelopment project, fund wildfire mitigation projects at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and address abandoned and derelict vessels at Zuniga Jetty Shoal near the entrance to San Diego Bay—just to name a few.

Critical components of livable communities are parks and recreation and our local libraries, resources that enrich our communities and benefit everyone. This year’s budget also includes over $45 million for our local parks and recreational services, including community parks and recreation centers, trail improvements, and coastal and beach access. It also includes $33 million for our region’s libraries, which are vital in helping provide resources and widen literacy in our communities. I’m particularly excited about the construction of a new Oak Park library branch!



While the number of monkeypox cases in San Diego and across California are still low, cases are rising worldwide, so it’s important to know how to identify it and what to do if you get sick.

Anyone can get monkeypox as it is easily transmitted through close physical contact, including hugging, cuddling, kissing, and sexual activity. It is easily spread between people living together who share bedding, towels, and clothes. It does not spread through casual conversation or by walking past someone who has it, like in a grocery store. At the onset, most people have flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle ache, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. Within a few days of a fever, a rash or sores that look like pimples or blisters may appear. It’s possible to experience all or only some of the common symptoms and the virus may take two to four weeks to resolve. The best thing to do if you think you have monkeypox is contact your healthcare provider and ask for a test. The CDC and the California Department of Public Health recommend that people 18 and up who have been exposed to monkeypox or who have been in a setting where cases have spread get the vaccine to prevent them from getting sick. Workers who are at greater risk of exposure, such as clinicians and public health workers, should also get vaccinated.

However, we don’t have nearly enough vaccines. Which is why, last month, California’s health leaders requested an increased supply of vaccines to help mitigate the spread of the virus, and are working in close collaboration with federal, state, and local officials to distribute vaccines, conduct tests, and increase awareness. The California Department of Public Health has a webpage dedicated to monkeypox for those interested in learning more.




On August 26th, we will celebrate Women’s Equality Day and the adoption of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits any state or the federal government from denying a person’s right to vote on the basis of sex. Women’s Equality Day is an opportunity to reflect on the persistence of the suffragettes who marched and advocated, over the course of nearly 100 years, to secure the right to vote. It is also important to recognize that while the movement created progress for white women, women of color were left behind. This August 26th, remember that when all women come together, lift each other up, and make our voices heard, we can—and in fact, we do—change the world!





Despite the increased attacks on our civil rights raging across the country, San Diego Pride was, yet again, a time of joy and celebration. I continue to be impressed by the resilience of our community and was honored to join so many of you at many of the Pride events last month.



It was an honor to participate the dedication for Fahari L. Jeffers Elementary School, which gets it’s name from a remarkable woman whom I had the pleasure to call a friend. Throughout her life, Fahari truly lived up to the Swahili meaning of her name: magnificent and rare.



It was great to stop by the Botanic Building in Balboa Park with Mayor Gloria and see the renovation’s progress. It’s been a long road to get to where we are today—I look forward to the day we celebrate its reopening!



I was honored to present a Senate Resolution at the 2nd Annual Filipino American Friendship Festival in recognition of the history between the Philippines and the United States. Filipino history is American history.



Team Toni joined the Oak Park community to thank Michael and Stephanie Heinzman for volunteering with the San Diego Library Oak Park Branch and Friends of the Library for 40 years! An incredible gift of their time and talents.


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