Just weeks away from a primary election, candidates in the Chula Vista mayoral race explained at a Wednesday night forum how they would run the county’s second largest city.
Among the questions that voters had submitted for the candidates to answer were queries about their vision for the bayfront, their thoughts about soft term limits, what to do with a controversial gentleman’s club and if school district unification is a good idea.
Former Chula Vista councilman Jerry Rindone said one of the major reasons he is running for mayor is because he wants to see the bayfront project finally come to fruition.
Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan said when she joined the council in 2008 the bayfront project was stalled, she said she helped the bayfront project get going again by focusing on the EIR and helping with the decommissioning of the South Bay power plant.
Salas said what makes her different from the other two candidates is that she actually fought for the undergrounding of a substation on the bayfront.
“One of the things that sets me and my opponents apart as well is I fought SDG&E,” she said. “I fought them to make sure we got the best undergrounding, they (her opponents) were supporting SDG&E’s position.”
When it came to soft term limits, Rindone said he feels that Chula Vista doesn’t necessarily have to do away with them.
“Experience and leadership in leading a city is critical,” Rindone said.
He said if incumbents are not doing their job, then voters shouldn’t vote for them.
Salas agreed with Rindone that experience, knowledge and history helps when sitting on the dais.
Both have previously served on the City Council for eight years.
Bensoussan said she would favor harder term limits.
“I think it is a good idea to bring new ideas, to bring new experiences, new contributions, fresh faces. I think Chula Vista is a city of very talented people,” she said.
Last year Salas proposed a unification of the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Her proposal sparked controversy in the community.
Rindone said school unification is a bad idea.
“Unification is not the solution of resolving the issues of the Sweetwater district,” he said. “While we like to see the issues of the Sweetwater district corrected, unification is not the tool to do that.”
Bensoussan said she opposed school unification because it has torn apart communities and she said she does not want that to happen to Chula Vista.
However, Salas said school unification is about providing the best education of the 21st century to its students, not about merging a good school district with a bad one.
The primary election is June 3.