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Seeking a return engagement Allison K. Sampité | Sat, May 26 2012 12:00 PM

After being retired for two years, former Assemblywoman Mary Salas is running for Chula Vista City Council seat 3.

Her opponents are attorney London Meservy and Chula Vista council aide Linda Wagner.
Salas, 64, was born and raised in Chula Vista and has two adult daughters.

She previously served on the City Council from 1996 to 2004 then was elected to the State Assembly in 2006.

Salas was defeated for a Senate seat in 2010 by Juan Vargas.

“After I left the Assembly I decided not to work,” she said. “I worked so hard for so many years and I’ve been enjoying it.”

However, Salas said that her love for the community compelled her to run once more.

“I decided to run because I love my community, I was born and raised here,” she said. “I really believe that my experience in public service would make me the right candidate.”

Salas attended San Diego State University at 37, got her degree in social work and graduated with honors.

After graduating, Salas worked on economic development for the California Trade and Commerce Agency, which she said gave her the opportunity to bring jobs to Chula Vista.

“The city is going through a lot of transition,” she said.

One of those transitions is the district elections measure, which gives the public an opportunity to vote on whether they want to change how they elect council members from at-large to districts.

Salas said that she will likely vote against the ballot initiative in November.

“I think on the con side I’m afraid that it will create divisiveness in the community with council members representing their own district rather than working for the entire good of the community,” she said.

Other changes include large economic projects such as the bayfront plan and University Park and Research Center.

Salas, who lives in a small house on Davidson Street in Chula Vista, said that while big projects for the city are in the works, it can still assist neighborhoods by working on smaller, infill projects for open space through community redevelopment.

“I think we need to encourage infill development and make all the residential areas better,” she said.
Salas said another challenge is governing when the city has a budget deficit.

“Right now I feel like the council is divisive,” she said. “I had a reputation for being a consensus builder the first time I served … I was a peacemaker.”

Salas said she has three main priorities for the city.

“We are really down on officers and our response time has suffered because we’re really low on staff,” she said. “We need to … have long-term financial sustainability. With that we can fully fund our public safety.”

In addition, Salas said the city must get into a position where it can do proper hiring, which means continuing to work on fiscal reform and maintaining a balanced budget.

“It all begins with the city’s fiscal health … getting back to our infrastructure, sewage lines that need to be maintained and repaired,” she said. “To make sure our recreation facilities are fully open and funded and our parks are maintained once again.”

Finally, good paying jobs.

“I know that ultimately companies choose you based on whether it will be a benefit to them,” she said. “As policymakers we have to make sure we have policies in place … for businesses to locate us.”

Salas chaired the Committee on Veterans Affairs while she served in the Assembly, improving access to housing options and healthcare for veterans.

“I really feel that it’s an honor and privilege to serve the people of Chula Vista,” she said. “I hope to serve them in the future with the same commitment and integrity.”

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