Matt Yagyagan

Director of Legislative Affairs, City of San Diego Councilmember Georgette Gómez (Council President, District 9)

The below interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 


How did you get to where you are today? What is your training or education? 

I was first introduced to politics and governance in high school, when my dad ran for the Chula Vista Elementary school board. I was his de facto campaign manager. Watching him run a hard-fought campaign was an eye-opening experience that introduced me to public service. 

I started my first internship with the Chula Vista City Council with a desire to better understand why disparities exist and loved it. I enjoyed working with people, taking constituent (community member) calls, assisting with casework and doing policy research so much that by the time I applied and went to UC Berkeley, I knew I wanted to be a political science major.  

After I graduated, I was unemployed for nine months before I could find a full-time job. I thought I would be able to find one sooner. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major and an internship on Capitol Hill with [then-Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi and had this amazing resume, but as it turns out there’s much more to it.  

After a few internships in San Diego I finally landed a job at Alliance San Diego where I was an educational organizer. My time there helped me see that I wanted to change how the city does business and work for an elected official to change institutions from within. That’s when I became acquainted with Georgette Gómez. 

Describe your job. What does a typical week look like for you?

As the director of legislative affairs, I assist the council president, Georgette Gómez, in setting the council meeting agenda. In deciding which items (agenda topics) to propose, I evaluate our yearly goals and what we are doing currently to address those goals.

An example of an item on the agenda is homelessness. I’m evaluating what we are doing currently to address it and whether our approach is humane. Are we informed by data and ensuring folks have a place to sleep, eat and have a safe space?

The job is both structured and unpredictable. Although I know what is scheduled for each day, it’s unpredictable in terms of the outcome. Sometimes the item that I think is going to be controversial is not controversial at all and no one shows up on it. And then other times when I think there’s a non-controversial item on the council agenda, it turns out that there are 30 to 50 people that are out here speaking on that item. We have to be prepared for the unpredictability of it.

Council meeting prep

  • In council chambers when we’re going to be talking about these items

Council meetings

  • Since city council members are working for the people of the city, meetings are open to the public, and any citizen can come and speak for or against something we are working on.

Review items

  • Six hours in my office and reviewing the items that are coming forward to council two weeks later
  • Reading through each item to make sure it makes sense and that it’s complete and accessible to the public

Committee meetings

  • Watching a committee meeting on the TV to listen to the community which helps me anticipate any issues with an item

Internal meeting day

  • Sitting down with the mayor’s office, the city clerk, the city attorney’s office, and the independent budget analyst to over what the next two weeks of council meetings looks like 
  • Working together to identify issues that need to be addressed before the next council meeting

Wrap up

  • Getting everything ready for the council meetings the following week
  • Creating the meeting script for the council president to read through over the weekend and make changes before the council meetings
  • Communicating with the other council offices about issues with items or questions about the council agenda
  • On the phone with constituents, inviting them to come out to counsel and speak

Man At Desk

What is something you find challenging about your job?

Not being able to deliver on things that I think should be simple is challenging to me. It could take two years to do something simple (like getting a mural up) because the processes that are in place to get things done aren’t always the most efficient due to government bureaucracy.

What do you love most about your job?

Everything. Every day I work for an elected official whose priorities align with my own. It is gratifying to work with an elected official on solutions to important issues that affect my community, my family and people that look like me.

City of San Diego
Priority Sector
Bachelor's from UC Berkley in Ethnic Studies; Political Science