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Back to City Hall? Carlos R. Davalos | Thu, Jun 03 2010 04:43 PM

If attorney Glen Googins doesn't win his bid to become Chula Vista's first elected city attorney, I'll be surprised.

In my mind he's had a virtual lock on the seat ever since another candidate, Joseph Casas, dropped out of the race at the last minute. That left Chula Vista resident Googins and Lakeside inhabitant Robert Faigin vying for the position.

If, politically speaking, San Diego is a big small town, Chula Vista is a hamlet and villagers don't take well to outsiders coming in and telling them what's what. With that said, Googins could start picking out his office furniture and drawing up a short list of whom on the city's legal staff he would retain and whom he would fire.

But Googins doesn't share my view. The former second-in-command at the city attorney's office thinks Tuesday's election will be close.

The irony in all of this is that Googins didn't vote for Prop. Q, the initiative that made electing a city attorney an option for Chula Vista voters.

One misgiving he had at the time included the notion that someone who didn't live in the community could become city attorney.

During the campaign Googins and his supporters have been playing up his hometown credentials. His ties to the community run deep (so deep that his college-bound daughter served for a brief time as a photo intern at The Star-News), having served on the board of directors for the Third Avenue Village Association and the Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Department among others.

But being a local boy doesn't carry much water when it comes to interpreting and enforcing ordinances and providing legal guidance. It doesn't matter if you live in San Diego and work in Chula Vista, the law is the law.

However, living in the city does give you insider's perspective as to how a given law impacts day-to-day life for residents and voters. Does that affect how one interprets the law? You be the judge.

Googins says he also has the experience of having worked and sort of led the city's legal department. He was second-in-command to then City Attorney Anne Moore.

But in 2004 Googins' boss, Moore, asked him to resign. He did. He was offered, he said, the standard separation agreement which included payment for unused vacation and a couple of other incentives that totaled slightly more than $175,000.

Googins maintains the separation came as a result of a difference of opinion. If it wasn't for but one person, Googins might still be at City Hall as a city attorney.

On Tuesday he'll have a chance to return as top legal eagle.

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