Two seats are up for grabs in the National City council race.
With three candidates running it means one will be squeezed out. While al grew up and have served in National City as well as attended Sweetwater High, their priorities for the city differ.
The two incumbents, Vice Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Councilwoman Rosalie Zarate, are being challenged by environmental protection specialist Jerry Cano.
This is Cano’s first time running for a political seat.
Cano, who works for the Department of Defense, said he’s running to reinstate transparency and accountability at City Hall.
“That’s the big issue that our city needs to fix,” Cano said. “Our city lately is a pig pen with … abandoned vehicles, lifted sidewalks and graffiti and it really needs attention to detail.”
He said if elected, he’d also focus on the budget.
“I want to focus on personnel issues to see how well they’re doing their jobs — how efficient they are,” he said.
Cano, 50, has volunteered with Maximizing Access to Advance our Communities, the MAAC project, which promotes self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income families and communities through advocacy and delivery of social, educational, housing and employment services.
He has also worked with the city’s Christmas in July program, a volunteer organization that works to repair, rehabilitate and modify homes for low-income homeowners, been involved with a community-oriented action team against child prostitution and trafficking and served as a police commissioner as chair for the Civil Service Commission.
He said it’s his overall life experience that qualifies him to serve on the council.
“The experience that I have gained over the last 35 years — my education, my work, especially with old town, bringing in the environmental experience that I have to be able to work with the businesses and making sure they work in compliance with the regulations,” he said.
Cano said residents should vote for him because he shoots from the hip.
“For one, I’m gonna do what I’m telling people I’m gonna do,” he said. “For another one I’m gonna have an open door policy, not back door meetings, and I’m gonna make sure people participate in our city and give them the freedom to come in any time and be a part of the discussion being held in the city of National City.”
For Sotelo-Solis, who is the development director for MANA de San Diego, a non-profit Latina organization that works to promote wellness, empowerment and upward mobility, the focus is on the budget, development and quality of life issues.
Sotelo-Solis, 33, was elected to the National City council in 2008.
“Having served these last four years has been an honor and I feel that there’s still work to be done,” she said.
Sotelo-Solis says she has the resources that can answer the questions affecting the community.
“From a perspective from a person like myself, a younger prospective, I feel that I bring that energy to the council,” she said. “It’s been really nice to be able to balance … the issues that address the younger generation.”
Sotelo-Solis said she’s helped accomplish many things while on the council.
They include voting on environmental policy regarding the city’s Westside Specific Area Plan and working closely with the business community to build relationships with staff and the city to include public input on city issues.
“Even when we were looking at budget cuts … it’s important to know what a library closure would really mean to our residents,” she said.
Sotelo-Solis sat on the wastewater management board and currently sits on SANDAG.
“Being a representative there, I’m able to share what our perspectives are for the city, which has been extremely important,” she said. “Right now with Prop. 30 and all of these propositions, we’re looking at how that’s going to trickle down to us at the city level … and making sure our services are not impacted.”
Sotelo-Solis said she should be elected because she’s done a good job in the last four years.
“I’ve brought people’s voices to the table and brought transparency when there’s been questions about things,” she said. “Ultimately it comes down to what’s going to be best for the community. I think people have seen that I will work with my colleagues to move things forward. I will work hard to keep a safe community, keep a healthy community and continue growing the pride in National City.”
Sotelo-Solis is endorsed by the San Diego Democratic Party, San Diego labor council and Assemblyman Ben Hueso, among others.
“My support is definitely regional,” she said. “It goes beyond National City and speaks to really having the relationship to continually moving our city forward.”
Zarate, who was first elected to the council in 1990 and served until 1998, came back in 2004.
“The reason I’m running is there’s so many things that are going to be challenge now,” she said. “With the state budget balancing their budget on our city government we need to make sure we meet those challenges head on and do a good job to protect our city.”
She said she started out as an activist.
“I became interested in city government when my six children were going up,” she said. “My children looked at the park and said ‘mom, it really needs help.’”
Zarate said she loves to see the turn around in city.
“Many, many years ago National City didn’t have a really good name and I think we’ve really come up … But there’s so many other things that we have to accomplish,” she said. “One of my priorities is public safety. We have excellent community policing. We got the neighborhood councils, which has been good because there’s more transparency for them (residents) to see what the government’s doing.”
Zarate served on partners for prevention, a program at Paradise Valley Hospital and also serves on SANDAG’s public safety committee.
“Another goal to enhance the gateway to our city so it looks inviting,” she said. “Community service is real important to me within our staffing department. Anything I can do to enhance our city is real important to me.”
“I believe that I’m a qualified leader because of all the things that we’ve been through in the city,” she said. “We don’t always agree but we have a way of getting together and getting things done.”
Zarate is endorsed by San Diego Supervisor Greg Cox, Congressman Bob Filner and National City Mayor Ron Morrison.