Rep. Susan Davis was an exemplary model of service for Congressman Peters and so many others over the course of her career. He joined local leaders to rename the Rolando Post Office in honor of his friend and former colleague and her lifetime of public service.
Read more about it in this July 7th piece from San Diego Jewish World, posted below:
Ceremony Renames Andrew Jackson Post Office for Susan A. Davis
By Donald Harrison
July 7, 2023
High-ranking public officials, postal employees, and residents of the Rolando neighborhood of San Diego cheered as a plaque was unveiled on Thursday, July 6, officially renaming the post office branch at 6401 El Cajon Boulevard for former Congresswoman Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego).
Davis’s successor, Rep. Sara Jacobs, emceed a ceremony that included representatives of seven local Girl Scout troops leading the Pledge of Allegiance; a contingent from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar presenting the colors; incoming Mira Mesa High School sophomore Zoe Bautista Domenden singing “The Star-Spangled Banner;” and speeches about Davis by Jacobs, Acting San Diego Postmaster Justine Valadez, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera.
The unveiled plaque read “This Building Is Named in Honor of Susan A. Davis by an Act of Congress, Public Law 117-314, December 27, 2022.” However, a legend will remain for the foreseeable future in large letters atop the Post Office Building stating: “United States Post Office, Andrew Jackson Station, San Diego, California 92115.” No congressional appropriation has been made to replace the lettering, and according to Davis, such an appropriation is problematic because such legislation would have to incorporate not only this post office branch but other renamed post office branches throughout the nation.
During the ceremony, Congresswoman Jacobs said she received a petition from the Rolando neighborhood, organized by resident Erik Anderson, on her second day in office, January 7, 2021, asking that the post office branch be renamed in Davis’s honor. “I am so thankful to have active, engaged constituents who care about the symbols of our community and what we are teaching the next generation and making San Diego a welcoming home for everyone,” she commented, without specifically mentioning the community’s dissatisfaction with having a post office named for the 7th President of the United States.
However, in a subsequent interview, Council President Elo-Rivera, whose 9th Council District includes the Rolando neighborhood, made clear his constituents’ reason for dissatisfaction with President Jackson, who is remembered for his harsh treatment of Native Americans and for being an enslaver of African-Americans.
“What we heard from constituents was that they didn’t feel that Andrew Jackson was representative of what this community stands for these days – the diversity of the community and how this community embraces people of all backgrounds,” Elo-Rivers said. “Today is about recognizing Congresswoman Davis and I think it is an upgrade.”
Mayor Gloria agreed in a separate interview: “I think I know why President Jackson’s legacy is more complicated. I just choose to see today as a real validation of Susan’s service. I am unaware of any of President Jackson’s direct connections to this community or to our city. I am fully aware of what Susan has done for San Diego and Rolando specifically and this seems like a better fit.”
Encomiums for Davis came from every speaker, as well as from elected officials who were in the audience rather than on the program such as Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego), with whom Davis served in Congress, and County Assessor Jordan Marks.
Peters said that when he got to the House of Representatives in 2013, Davis “was like a big sister to me.” Davis began her 20-year service in 2001 and retired January 2021. Prior to her two decades in Congress, she had served in the state Assembly, and before that as a board member of the San Diego Unified School District.
Marks, a Republican, commented, “This is a great moment to update our history and reflect on someone who has been in Congress for a number of years. Susan served our community well.”
At the podium, which had been set up in a parking lot of the post office branch, Valadez, the city’s acting postmaster, said “it will be an honor for us to report to work every day in a facility … that will remind us of our own mission to serve our community.”
Mayor Gloria was mentored at the age of 14 by Davis, who then was the director of the Aaron Price Fellowship, set up by Sol and Robert Price in memory of their late grandson and son to expose youth from lower-income families to the workings of government and big business. After college, Gloria went to work for Davis as a staff member before beginning a political climb that took him to the City Council and the State Assembly before his election in 2020 as San Diego’s 37th Mayor.
“I think of all the children whose lives she touched as a school board member; all the Californians whose lives were made better because of her career in Sacramento; and, of course, all of us in this country who are better for her service,” Gloria commented. He described Davis as “an incredible public servant who left this city better than when she found it.”
Next up was Elo-Rivera, who addressed Davis directly, saying: “Folks who worked for you, or around you, really appreciated you. Your reputation is really outstanding.” Then, to the audience seated and standing in the parking lot, he commented, “We need more leaders like that, especially in politics.”
Resuming her place at the podium, Jacobs said that a preliminary requirement to have a Post Office named for someone is to get all the members of one’s state’s delegation in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to agree to granting that honor.
“If you are from South Dakota (which has only one representative in the House), that is really easy,” Jacobs said. “If you are from California, not so much. We had to get 52 other members of Congress, including the current Speaker (Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield) and the former Speaker (Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco) to sign onto this bill to be able to get it passed into law. I feel it is a testament to how much respected [Davis] is in that body that we were able to do that.”
Jacobs praised Davis as a congressional representative who preferred to shine the light on others rather than take center stage herself. “For many of you who know Susan, this is probably the last place she wants to be,” Jacobs added before embarking upon a resume of some of the highlights of Davis’s career.
“As chairwoman and ranking committee of the subcommittee on military personnel of our House Armed Services Committee, she championed our service members, leading the repeal of the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy (for LGBTQ+ service members); increasing military pay and benefits; expanding access to mental health care and services; and shining the light on military sexual assaults. … Susan fought to make sure that military families have quality health care and housing … Term after term, she reintroduced legislation to expand women’s access to healthcare. Because of her dedication, women across the country no longer need prior approval referrals to receive OB/GYN care. … She pushed to address child hunger, access to child health care, and early learning opportunities.”
Davis also served on the House Education and Labor Committee, where, according to Jacobs, “she advocated for more apprentice programs and making college more accessible and affordable. … She actively lifts up and encourages the next generation of leaders.”
As Gloria did before her, Jacobs identified Davis as one of her mentors. “When I wasn’t sure if I were really ready to run for Congress as a very young woman, she called me almost every day to convince me that I could do it, and here I am – it works.”
At last it was Davis’s turn to speak, and she began by thanking the elected officials who were present, including San Diego School Board members Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, Shana Hazan, and Cody Petterson; many members of her family, including her husband Steve, a medical doctor, and her sister, Ellie Palk; her former congressional staff; alumni of the Aaron Price Fellows program; and postal workers, who lined the side of the parking lot in her honor.
She then launched into a little history lesson. “The first Congressional legislation for a national postal service was signed by no other than President George Washington in 1792,” she said. “It wasn’t until 1967 that Congress started dedicating post offices with a dedication plaque to honor individuals and the process grew. Initially a committee considered not honoring living people, but in congressional fashion this committee carved out a practice of having only an exception for (U.S.) Presidents to be honored and Vice Presidents, Members of Congress, Judges and elected officials over 70 years old. I was happy to have made the cut.” Susan Alpert Davis was born April 13, 1944.
Gusts of wind blew during the ceremony, prompting Gabby Dominguez, scheduler and assistant to Congresswoman Jacobs, to quickly take on another task. She grabbed and thereafter closely monitored two indoor flag poles that had been brought outside and were nearly blown over during the proceedings.
Davis, Jacobs, Elo-Rivera, Marks, and Hazan all are members of San Diego’s Jewish community.