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Forum previews candidates Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Mar 17 2012 12:00 PM

Chula Vista City Council candidates recently participated in their first forum for the June general election hosted by the Northwest Civic Association.

There are three candidates running against current Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan for Seat 3, including Larry Breitfelder, Guillermo Briseno and Bob Castaneda.

Castaneda is Councilman Steve Castaneda’s brother, worked for former California governors and runs a renewable energy consulting business.

Breitfelder is the president of the Chula Vista Taxpayer’s Association and ran against current Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar last year but lost.

Three new candidates are challenging each other for Seat 4, where termed-out Councilman Steve Castaneda currently sits.

London Meservy is an attorney who was raised in Chula Vista.

Mary Salas is a native Chula Vistan who is a former state assemblywoman and Chula Vista City Council member.

Linda Wagner is the only full- time senior council aide who has worked for Chula Vista and has served at City Hall for eight years.

The first question to candidates asked what they would do about the imbalance between housing and job opportunities.

Bensoussan said that progress is in sight.

“We are in a place to have some real progress as far as anchor projects like bayfront development,” she said. “We need to … promote our university and finish the entitlement process for that, because it will be a magnet for quality job creation.”

Wagner said there’s no harm in bringing one business at a time into the city.

“We also have to be careful about not chasing away good paying jobs from Chula Vista,” she said.

Meservy said that getting the bayfront developed will bring thousands of jobs in the next several years.

Candidates were also asked whether they support the creation of districts for voters to elect officials, rather than through at-large elections.

Meservy said that while he’s not opposed to district elections, he doesn’t think now is the time to spend money to get the initiative on the ballot.

Salas said that district elections have the ability to divide a community.

“You don’t want councilmembers fighting for their turf,” she said.

Wagner said she’d probably vote for district elections because every group needs to be represented.

Breitfelder said he is for district elections because it benefits the neighborhoods and helps curb special interests.
Castaneda said district elections means one man one vote.

Another question for candidates asked them why they are qualified.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Wagner said. “I will work full time for part-time pay and never use this position as a stepping stone into other office.”

Salas said the voters should take her previous record into consideration.

“I believe I did a good job and served within the interest of my community,” she said. “I will serve you with experience, honesty and loyalty.”

Meservy simply said he wants to be “here.”

“You will get my problem-solving skills,” he said.

Briseno was not present for the debate.

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