Durazo throws his hat into the ring

December 23, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Gillermo "Willie" Durazo Jr. is not afraid of challenges.

He is a Republican candidate in a congressional race vying against incumbent Democrat Bob Filner in the mostly Democratic 51st district, into which Imperial County will move at the start of 2003.

"I have always taken challenges. Everything I've done in my life is a challenge," Durazo said.

He said accomplishments such as joining the Army at age 17, fighting in the Vietnam War and owning a business show he can meet a challenge.

"I think I can be successful against Filner because I'm one of us," Durazo said. "I live in the community, I work and employ people in the community."


Durazo was born and lives in Chula Vista but he lived in the Imperial Valley for two years. In the late 1970s, he lived in El Centro when he worked for the U.S. Customs Service as an inspector at the Calexico Port of Entry.

He thinks one of the keys to economic development in the Imperial Valley is a rail link to shuttle people between the Valley and San Diego. Another key is building a cargo airport here.

"A cargo airport does not fit very well in the existing community in San Diego," Durazo said. "I was very anti-cargo airport in San Diego. The airport was going to be within earshot of my house."

Durazo said he thinks building a cargo airport in Imperial County is a win-win situation for both counties.

Durazo said farmers' water rights need to be protected.

"We need water in San Diego but we need to protect farmlands here," he said.

San Diego needs to investigate other avenues to obtain or conserve water, Durazo said.

Durazo said he is pro-military.

"The military brings jobs and keeps our country safe. If we don't have a strong military, we won't have freedom," he said.

Durazo has been politically active most of his life. He founded the South Bay Young Republicans of San Diego when he was 30 and was chairman of the San Diego County Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He also volunteered for the George Bush (the elder) and Bob Dole presidential campaigns.

Durazo has also been active in the community as a volunteer. He was a Pop Warner football coach and vice president of the Chula Vista Pop Warner league. He was co-chair of Padre Hidalgo Center, where he helped fund college scholarships.

Durazo owns Dugazo, Inc., a government contractor specializing in construction, security and groundskeeping.

He has been married to Joy for 27 years. They have three children.

Durazo said he will be in the Valley this week to meet more people and visit the community.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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