Getting to Know District 6’s Chris Cate
A True San Diegan at Heart
Photos Provided by Chris Cate's Staff
Cold rainy days don’t arise often in San Diego, but when I met Chris Cate for coffee mid–morning, the air had turned to mist. A warm beverage was a must; Cate wasn’t shy about wrapping his hands around his coffee cup as he relaxed back into his seat at the Sorrento Valley McDonalds, located right in the middle of District 6 in San Diego. Sorrento Valley—and all of District 6, for that matter—are of the upmost importance to Cate because as of 2014, Cate has been the City Council representative for San Diego’s District 6. At 33, Cate is the youngest City Council representative serving in San Diego.
So how did someone so young become so engrained in this city? Councilman Cate’s origin story can be traced back to being a true native San Diegan. Born in Chula Vista, Cate has lived throughout San Diego, including stints in Oceanside, Vista and even Kearny Mesa for college. Possessing a wide breadth of San Diego knowledge from his mobile background alone, Cate’s college experience further entrenched him in the San Diego community because it was peppered with something most San Diegans don’t experience at such a young age: running his own business. “At twenty years old, I started my own small business and ran it,” Cate confirmed. “I ran an auto glass replacement business with a high school friend. We started it while I was in college in Kearny Mesa, and he still runs it today.”
With strong ties to both the residential and the business communities of San Diego, Cate is in a unique position on the City Council. Cate’s business background is paramount to his success on the City Council because, unlike other local politicians, Cate can sympathize with the needs of small business owners. “[I] get their frustration. 92% of businesses in San Diego are small businesses with less than 12 employees. Every dollar impacts them, so how do you make it easier for them to have employees and expand their business?”
Though Cate left the auto glass repair business after college, he is now serving as the youngest councilman currently on the San Diego City Council, Cate represents District 6, which encompasses Clairemont Mesa, Kearny Mesa, Mira Mesa, Miramar, Park Village and Sorrento Valley. A strong proponent of the people, Cate has been fighting for his district since before he was elected. During his campaign in 2014, Cate established a coalition of neighborhood leaders to liaise between the residents and the council about their highest priorities. Called the Neighborhoods First Coalition, Cate believes in the strength of this organization and their ability to communicate District 6’s needs. “This [group] is the first of its kind—no one’s ever done this before,” Cate explained. The Neighborhoods First Coalition has already proven to be successful at bridging the gap between government and residents. “This group of leaders has gotten together for two years now and met at public meetings, went out to town councils and planning groups, sought feedback, and said, ‘This is our plan for the year,’” Cate noted. “They developed a strategic plan with goals, objectives and metrics.” All of this began before Cate even took office; imagine what he’ll accomplish in the next two years.
And what does Cate hope to accomplish while in office? “Leave the district better than I found it,” he said, voice firm. “I don’t think we can solve all of the city’s problems in four years, or eight years, but you want to make incremental steps in the right direction.” It sounds cheesy, but it’s true—Cate’s biggest career dream isn’t to one day run for president or state senate. Instead, Cate wants to be San Diego’s own personal Green Arrow, to save this city and help people—without the mask, of course. “I’m a big believer that you cannot plan out your political career,” Cate said, his lips curling into a soft smile. “I think if you set those types of goals, you lose sight of why you’re doing the job.”
That’s not to say Cate would never consider advancing his political career to a state or national level. For him, it’s a matter of timing, not career goals. “My biggest thing is doing right by residents,” Cate explained. “[But] if something were to come up eight, ten years from now, I want to be in a position where I can say ‘I am ready—or not ready—to make this step.’ You want to be able to make a confident decision.”
One decision Cate has already made? To pursue fatherhood, and soon. Cate married his long–time girlfriend Maria Lourdes Cabuang in January of this year and already the pair are talking children. “We are very excited to have kids soon!” Cate exclaimed. “My goal is to have kids before the end of my first term! So hopefully we’ll have kids soon.”
Cate’s commitment to doing right by the people makes him a cherished politician in his district—which just so happens to be my district. But beyond serving his community and fighting for District 6, Cate is simply a San Diegan at heart, just like you. “The weather [in San Diego] is just amazing, first off,” Cate conceded with a grin. “There’s just so much to do. I snowboard. I love hiking, jogging and I play basketball. I’m a big sports nut. There are just so many options here.” Cate noted. “I’m just a regular person. My wife and I love going out to eat, and we enjoy what the district and the city has to offer. You can come up to me and just have a conversation. I’m trying to serve on behalf of [the] residents.”
It’s true: Cate is a thoughtful and down–to–earth councilman, a conversationalist open to discussing whatever is on your mind. Whether it be San Diego sports or the pothole down the street, Cate is a friendly and approachable man, a true San Diegan from start to finish.