What qualifies you to represent 250,000 Chula Vista residents?
Steve Padilla: I am grateful to have served our city in many capacities which have provided me unique knowledge and experience. As mayor, coastal commissioner, and port commissioner I worked to bring diverse interests together to produce our Bayfront Master Plan, revitalize our older neighborhoods, and plan for a university and innovation center. As a small business owner, I advocate for transportation and housing around our region and understand the need to bring quality jobs to our community.
In the future, I will continue to put progress ahead of politics and to bring people together around issues that matter – jobs, public safety and strong neighborhoods.
Scott Vinson: I have owned a local business in Chula Vista for the past 27 years. I have served and still serving on the City Planning Commission for the past seven years. I participated in the formation of the 20- year General Plan for the city and I have served as a volunteer on the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce for over 10 years and was president in 2010. I have raised three wonderful children here with the help of the public school system and in a good neighborhood. I have given most of my adult life in some form of volunteerism to better our city. I think it’s time we start thinking big. Chula Vista has unlimited opportunities for jobs and education and I think I have the experience to go beyond and think outside the box.
What should Chula Vista do about the increasing number of homeless in the city?
Vinson: We need to provide resources to the homeless on where they can go to get shelter, food, medical, and basic necessities. Make sure they are aware of the existing job resources that do exist. Periodically interview the homeless on the streets to find out what has caused them to become homeless and if they have relatives who can be contacted to assist them. Provide transportation if needed to return home.
Padilla: Homelessness is not just a local problem, it is a regional one. I believe that partnership with all segments of our local and regional community is key. We can leverage resources by working with regional social service agencies, the business community, residents, churches and others to address the root causes of homelessness. A good goal is to be sure that we know what the homeless population in Chula Vista is, how many suffer from mental illness or drug addiction and how many are homeless veterans and work to assure each person has access to programs and resources that can help them.
Should the city of Chula Vista spearhead an effort to unify governing school boards in South County?
Padilla: The city should first and foremost be a partner with parents, educators and both districts to advance the interests of our students and their future. I believe our focus should be on providing the best environment for students to grow, achieve and compete in a fast changing world.
I believe that as a community we should be willing to honestly explore and discuss any and all options that could improve our children’s education. The city can play a role in facilitating this dialogue and advocating for putting students first..
Vinson: I certainly think we should hold community discussion and reach out for alternatives. The present Sweetwater school board is an embarrassment to the community and obviously lacks the management skills to oversee the district. Unification with the well managed Chula Vista Elementary School District would not be the answer. The Sweetwater board needs to focus on their problems and start goal planning.
How do you increase revenue for the city of Chula Vista?
Vinson: Most of Chula Vista’s revenues are derived from property taxes and sales taxes. Our city ranks second lowest in the capture of sales tax revenues for all of San Diego County. Every morning approximately 83,000 residents leave our city to work and so go the sales tax dollars which are spent in other parts of San Diego. We need to attract more good paying jobs to Chula Vista so our residents can spend less time commuting and more time with their families and purchasing in Chula Vista businesses resulting in local sales tax dollars and also will create even more local jobs.
Padilla: By encouraging investment by a broader range of business and making sure our major job creating projects are successfully implemented.
We must provide land for commercial and industrial uses that can provide new job opportunities for our residents so they can spend more money on goods and services here in Chula Vista. We should explore incentives such as opportunity zones with reduced or suspended fees and taxes in return for long-term investment. Finally, we must keep large scale projects such as the bayfront and the university on track because they can ultimately produce new revenue for our city.
What issues need immediate attention?
Padilla: My priorities will be expanding job opportunities, addressing infrastructure deficits in our older neighborhoods and putting more police officers and firefighters on duty to keep our community safe.
We purchase most of our goods and services in other communities. This represents a huge loss of revenue to the city. We must resist overreliance on residential land uses which drain city resources in the long term. We need a better balance of jobs and housing and to find ways to repair aging infrastructure in older neighborhoods. Finally, we must stop spreading our police officers and firefighters so thin and give them the staffing and resources they need to do their job.
Vinson: Issues that need immediate attention would include making sure the bayfront is on track, restore basic services including street repair, parks, and libraries. Establish a team of both city and local business individuals to approach the large businesses we already have in Chula Vista and ask their help in encouraging their out of state business vendors to relocate to Chula Vista. Jobs, jobs, jobs must be the highest priority.
Vinson and Padilla both submitted their answers to The Star-News late.