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June 7, 2016 — California Primary Election
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City of San DiegoCandidate for City Attorney

Photo of Rafael Castellanos

Rafael Castellanos

Attorney/Port Commissioner
54,319 votes (19.34%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Protect the taxpayers' interests by providing legal representation every bit as good as the private law firms the city must compete against in court and negotiations.
  • Treat city residents fairly and ensure the public's business is done in public, not behind closed doors.
  • Prioritize the community justice section of the City Attorney's Office to better serve underrepresented communities.



Business and Real Estate Law Partner, Solomon Minton Cardinal Doyle & Smith LLP (2010–current)
Commissioner, Unified Port of San Diego — Appointed position (2013–current)
Chairman, Port's Environmental Advisory Committee — Appointed position (2014–current)


University of Chicago Law School Juris Doctor (J.D.), Law (2002)
Arizona State University Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), History (1999)

Community Activities

Board Member , San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (2014–current)
Board Member , Teach for America - San Diego (2013–current)
Member, California and San Diego County Bar Associations (2002–current)
Chair of San Diego Foundation's Business Forum on Climate Resiliency , San Diego Foundation (2013–current)
President and Board Member, San Diego La Raza Lawyers (2009–2013)


He grew up in the tiny mining town of Winnemucca, Nevada to immigrant parents. One of his first jobs after high school was mining gold – gold that made others rich – but his riches were far more lasting. In the mines he learned the values of hard work, shared sacrifice, helping his family, and giving back to his community. Lessons more valuable than mere gold in a bucket. They would be the lessons that would guide him for almost two decades to a career in the law and public service in his community.

Before the mines he had his own paper route at 9 and at 11 he was washing golf carts and doing general chores at a golf course. As he got older he worked in restaurants and construction, always saving money and looking ahead to the day he could pay for his own education. He eventually used his savings in pursuit of an education and career track that would move him far away from the mines of Northern Nevada. He received his college degree from Arizona State University and a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Eventually he made his way to Los Angeles to practice law then to San Diego. In San Diego he found his calling and he immersed himself in the law and in using the law to serve his community.

He is a Member of the Board of Port Commissioners of the Unified Port of San Diego having been appointed by the San Diego City Council. He Chairs the Port’s Environmental Advisory Committee. Among his many civic roles he has served on the Board of MANA de San Diego, the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, and Teach for America – San Diego. He is a Member of the California Bar Association and the San Diego County Bar Association. He has worked with the San Diego Foundation to address climate change preparation and has also worked tirelessly at the Port to address the issue of chronic homelessness on the waterfront.

Now his goal is to continue to give back to San Diego and seek the office of City Attorney. His goals are straightforward:

  1. Protect the taxpayers’ interests by providing legal representation to the City every bit as good or better than any of the private law firms or other government legal offices it must compete against in court and in negotiations.

  2. Treat City residents fairly and equally during the enforcement of any law under the jurisdiction of the City Attorney and ensure the public’s business is done in public not behind closed doors.

  3. Prioritize the community justice section of the City Attorney’s Office in order to effectively address quality of life issues, especially for poor and underrepresented communities.

  4. Ensure that the City’s climate action plan is implemented legally and effectively.

  5. Protect the City’s resources from being squandered on unnecessary disputes and illegal policies.

A golden nugget from the dark gold mines of Nevada he is uniquely positioned to bring a new brand of public service to San Diego. As he has often said, he is not just a lawyer but rather a person looking to serve his community and help people. Those are enduring values and riches far beyond the gold he once mined as a young man.


Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (13)

  • San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Teamsters Joint Council 42
  • Unite Here Local 30
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 206
  • Laborers Local 89
  • Ironworkers Local 229
  • AFSCME Local 127
  • National Latino Peace Officers Association Advocacy
  • Neighborhood Market Association
  • Unity League
  • Chicano Democratic Association
  • Mexican-American Business and Professional Association
  • San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association

Elected Officials (19)

  • Shirley Weber, California Assemblwoman
  • Arturo Solis, Sweetwater Union High School District Board Member
  • Mary Salas, Chula Vista Mayor
  • Mona Rios, National City Council Member
  • Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State
  • Gavin Newsom, California Lieutenant Governor
  • Ron Morrison, National City Mayor
  • Chuck Lowery, Oceanside Deputy Mayor
  • Ben Hueso, California State Senator
  • Michael McQuary, San Diego Unified School District Board President
  • Olga Diaz, Escondido City Council Member
  • Serge Dedina, Imperial Beach Mayor
  • Myrtle Cole, San Diego City Council Member
  • Kamala Harris, California Attorney General
  • David Alvarez, San Diego City Council Member
  • Esther Sanchez, Oceanside City Council Member
  • Nora Vargas, Southwestern Community College Board Member
  • Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, National City Council Member
  • Jerry Cano, National City Vice Mayor

Videos (1)

— May 16, 2016 Rafael Castellanos for City Attorney 2016

Rafael Castellanos' background, experience and vision for the office of San Diego City Attorney.

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