Fri, Jul 16 2010 01:46 PM Posted By: Allison Sampite
Former interim City Councilman Mitch Thompson recently completed his time on the Chula Vista City Council and on Tuesday relinquished his seat to returning councilman John McCann, who in June returned from military service in Iraq.
"I want to say thanks to residents for support, wisdom and advice in the last year," Thompson said during the July 13 council meeting. "I listened and learned from you."
Thompson was appointed to the City Council last fall after McCann announced he would deploy for up to a year.
His appointment came amid controversy as some members of the council and public said McCann's seat should be left vacant.
Thompson said the opposition was rooted in politics.
"When you add another vote (to the City Council), when you're one of four, you've diluted your vote so there's less chance that you will get your way," he said.
But an extra voice gives another perspective to help generate quality decisions, which helps add to the quality of governance, he added.
"I wouldn't have applied if I didn't think I'd add value, values that are very complimentary to experiences that the other council members have," he said.
While some critics may have thought Thompson's role was to support fellow Democrats Rudy Ramirez, Pamela Bensoussan and Steve Castaneda, the former Chula Vista planning commissioner said he was independently-minded.
"I wasn't shy in my opinions on things, and I told them from the get-go that I'll vote the way I see it and I might be with you or not."
One of Thompson's first acts as city councilman - appointing former Chula Vista mayor Steve Padilla to the San Diego Port Commission - was done within minutes of his being sworn in as a council member.
"I thought he was the right person and that ended up being the case. We got more done than anybody ever expected," Thompson said.
"My job was not to reflect his (McCann's) opinions or voice," Thompson said. "My job was to use all of my talents, background and insight to be a part of a decision-making process of my own independent thoughts. I think some people wanted me to reflect John McCann's views, but they were disappointed."
Thompson appreciated that he was able to serve his community.
"I worked on a health issue that I got very emotionally involved in that had to do with the sale of tobacco products to minors, which caused some attention with the police. Since then we've had reduced sales of cigarette products," he said.
Thompson also found value in the process of being on a local forum that discussed the immigration issue.
"We worked hard at coming up with a resolution where we didn't attack Arizona but we made a number of statements about how we felt about immigration."
After serving on the council, Thompson said he has a good idea of what the city needs to do and where it needs to go.
Thompson feels building the four-year university is important, and it will act as an economic engine by creating high-quality, high-paying jobs.
"We need to not settle for something mediocre," he said. "The city government is fragile, so handle it with care," he said.
"I think we've made great strides in strategic thinking in the city, and we need to go even further," Thompson said.
© 2009 The Star-News