What qualifies you to represent 250,000 Chula Vista residents?
Patricia Aguilar: As Chula Vista’s Deputy Mayor, I have been successfully representing Chula Vista residents for the past four years. I am endorsed by Chula Vista’s police and firefighters, Councilwoman Mary Salas, Councilman Rudy Ramirez, former Councilmen Steve Castaneda, and a long list of others. The accomplishments I am most proud of are a) getting all City firefighters trained as paramedics; b) hiring more police officers; c) working to improve our infrastructure. As a fiscal conservative, I am proud that during my time in office there have no new taxes and the city’s financial reserves and bond rating have increased.
Michael Spethman: I am a Chula Vistan. I was brought up in Chula Vista, raised my family in Chula Vista and have my business in Chula Vista. I believe that it is important to give back to your community. Over the last 24 years, I have served on the Design Review, Growth Management, and Planning Commissions. I presently sit on the Charter Review Commission. I worked on the Bay Front Master Plan, the General Plan Update, and the Master Plans for Eastlake, Otay Ranch, San Miguel Ranch, and Rolling Hills Ranch. My sole objective is success for the City and those who live and work in our community.
What should Chula Vista do about the increasing number of homeless in the city?
Spethman: The homeless issue is extremely complex and the reasons why a person is homeless are as varied as the homeless themselves.
The first category is the easiest to approach and that is made up of who are not homeless by choice. The City should collaborate with the social service providers in our community to bring these folks relief.
The second category, those who are homeless by choice or through addiction and mental challenges is much more difficult to address. I believe we should practice tough love in their case. A new approach may be to first stabilize their life by providing housing and then work on the personal problems that keep them homeless. The care and housing of these folks is a regional problem and must be addressed on that level utilizing both private and public assets.
Aguilar: Because we are blessed to live in a free society, it is not illegal to be homeless. Because of this, homelessness is a tough issue in our city and others around the country. But there are two things we can do: the police department must strictly enforce existing vagrancy and loitering laws, and at the same time we must work with local social service agencies to help the homeless find shelter. These steps will not eliminate the problem entirely, but they can make a noticeable and important difference.
Should the city of Chula Vista spearhead an effort to unify governing school boards in South County?
Aguilar: I have some reservations about unification, but I think it is worth studying. The County Board of Education has asked the State to change the way Sweetwater board members are elected. Under the new system, the district would be divided into five geographic areas, and one board member living in each area would be elected by the voters who live in that area. I support this change, but I think new leadership at the district is also required.
Spethman: Chula Vistans demand and expect quality educational opportunities, not only for their children but for the overall benefit that it brings to the community as a whole.
Unification has been brought up a number of times before. I am not in favor of unification because it will take years to get through the process, will not fix the immediate problems, and would have to be forced upon the elementary districts.
I hope and believe that the voters will elect a new Board of Trustees for Sweetwater in November who will bring the district back to the level of respect it held when I graduated high school.
How do you increase revenue for the city of Chula Vista?
Spethman: It is not by increasing existing city fees and creating more of them. That is a short term and shot sighted approach.
Chula Vista must welcome industry and commerce into our community. We must show those who would bring their business and invest in our community that we are “Open for Business.” Put frankly, government should get out of the way. I support the city manager’s programs to streamline and fine tune our development processes as well as continuously looking for ways to work more effectively and efficiently throughout city government. We have an amazing and committed group of city employees in all departments who produce more with less than most cities in the region. We are on the cusp of becoming a Southern California powerhouse.
We just need to make the value of living, working, and shopping in our community known to the outside world.
Aguilar: The way to increase revenue is to help existing businesses become more successful, and to bring new businesses to our city. As a former small business owner, I know that business support and economic development are essential to building our local economy. The other piece of this effort is to attract a four-year university. The city already owns 140 acres set aside for a university, and plans to add more this year. The new university will give south bay students a local four-year college to attend, and become an incubator for high quality jobs essential to our shared future.
What issues need immediate attention?
Aguilar: I believe the most sacred responsibility of the City Council is public health and safety — assuring Chula Vista residents the very highest quality fire protection, paramedic services, and 911 emergency responses. Reducing crime and gang activity are also needed. Issues that require immediate action are: a) improving the quality of education in our local schools, b) creating jobs and building our local economy, c) repairing and maintaining city streets and sidewalks, and d) protecting our supply of clean drinking water through conservation and use of recycling systems. These issues will be my primary focus over the next four years
Spethman: Water is a fundamental need and we must collaborate with the water districts that serve our community for a long range sustainable plan.
Education is the foundation upon which our future will be created. This will require continued interest and cooperation with the educational facilities within Chula Vista be they public or private.
We must continue to maintain and improve our infrastructure from potholes to storm water runoff.
Police and fire have done a great job of providing for the safety of our citizens. We must maintain and even improve on this through continuing education and training of our present force, retention and recruitment of high caliber officers and firemen.
Presenting the benefits this community has to offer to those who would live and invest in our city.