Elliott balances work, home life

Mara Elliott

Elliott balances work, home life

By Bella Ross

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is no easy feat during the pandemic, especially when you’re the head lawyer for one of the largest cities in the nation.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott is no stranger to Scripps Ranch, where she lives with her husband Greg and their two sons. But when her home became her office last March, she grew closer than everto the community.

“The job is extremely stressful, so when I can just get out for a walk and reconnect with nature and see people I live close to, it just reminds me there is much more than that narrow world we live in that’s work,” Elliott said.

Her role with the city is a dynamic one, between serving as a civil advisor for city officials and handling more than 20,000 misdemeanor cases and 200 new civil cases each year, according to the city attorney’s website.

Those misdemeanor cases touch the lives of many, tackling quality of life issues such as unsafe housing conditions, vandalism, fire hazards and other topics relating to code compliance.

Elliott, who came into her role in 2016, has maintained a busy agenda amid the shift to remote work. During this past year, she was in the midst of an intense reelection campaign against local attorney Cory Briggs, which she took with 66.7 percent of the vote. Her office has also been entangled with litigation surrounding the property at 101 Ash St., a real estate deal gone wrong that cost taxpayers for a building that couldn’t be used due to unsafe conditions.

Despite the chaos, Elliott said working from home presented a unique opportunity for her to be more involved in her childrens’ lives.

“It’s nice to see them grow up and have lunch with them every day,” she said. “You get a little bit more engaged with what’s happening. I know their friends by their names now and the things that interest them.”

Seeing the ways government has adapted during the pandemic has been a source of inspiration both personally and professionally for Elliott, who said some aspects of the work-from-home life could continue to save taxpayers money for years to come.

Being able to step away from the computer for her twice-daily walks with her dog or a cappuccino from her favorite local bakery, The French Oven, isn’t too bad either.

She said it’s hard to tell what’s on the horizon once her second term in office is up (perhaps a return to private practice, Elliott said), though she’ll surely walk away with a few things to be proud of.

On the top of her list of accomplishments so far is her work on the issue of gun violence, most notably her spearheading of the Gun Violence Restraining Order program that’s removed more than 500 firearms, including 40 assault weapons, from the hands of San Diegans who pose a threat to the community.

“Like most parents, I tried to figure out what I could do to keep (my kids) safe, and gun violence restraining orders were a tool we had in California to prevent gun violence from happening when you see the indicators before a crime occurs,” Elliott said.

Protecting vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly, is a significant part of her office’s duties. This often includes tackling issues surrounding domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse.

“In Scripps Ranch, we have a thriving elderly population and one of my passions is preventing elder abuse so people can age with dignity,” Elliott said. “We’ve done a great deal of work to prevent elder abuse, especially with independent living facilities.”