COUNCIL DISTRICT TWO CANDIDATE STEVE STENBERG
Steve Stenberg is running for City Council District 2 being vacated by Council member Jill Galvez. The 66-year-old Republican was born in Pasadena, moving to Chula Vista when his father took a job as the city’s assistant city manager. His mother is a teacher with the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Stenberg went through the Chula Vista school system, attending Allen Elementary, and Bonita Vista middle and high schools, then moving on to Southwestern College. He is a U.S. Airforce veteran of 11 years, in the reserves while he finished his degree at National University. But during that time, Stenberg began his lifelong career in public service.
“In 1982 I was hired by Border Patrol, spending two years at Brown Field and working in transportation. I got into U.S. Customs for a year and a half as they had dog handling positions, managing to seize more than $1 million in drugs,” he said.
Stenberg then joined the fire department as a volunteer and loved it, so he joined the Federal Fire Department in 1985 working at North Island until he retired in 2009.
“I was retired for one week, then went to work for San Diego County Fire in Campo as a fire captain at Station 46 until May 2012,” he said. “I then went to work at Del Mar as a defensible space inspector, a seasonal job for six months. I went to CalFire doing the same thing. I am now coming up on my eight years with CalFire. On Dec. 18, 2021, I celebrated 44 years of continuous work in public safety.”
Stenberg is married with two children and three grandchildren. As a family business, they opened Third Avenue Alehouse in 2015. Recently, his wife and he decided to make a change and signed an agreement to sell their interest in the business and are currently transferring ownership to his son and daughter-in-law.
Stenberg said he ran for office in 2018 for the first time with no committees, or public experience. Until then he worked, came home, and raised his family. He said he lost by 804 votes out of 17,000. He said Galvez called him in July to tell him she was running for mayor.
“I talked with my wife. We prayed a lot about it. I talked to all my advisors from 2018 and they all said this was my chance to do what you wanted to do the last time,” he said. “I feel good about it. I am not sure that I have facial recognition, but I am pretty sure that I have name recognition.”
Stenberg said he has a “dedicated crew” of walkers, and he is starting to get out walking and talking to constituents in the area to gather their support. He said he loves to talk to people, and that this is an easy task for him, as his work with CalFire takes him to 20 to 30 homes a day.
With all his work in public safety, Stenberg said he strongly believes in public safety and the upkeep and growth of the Chula Vista fire and police department.
“I believe we have one of the best fire departments in San Diego County,” he said. “Our city is probably one of the safest cities that you can live in. But they have their needs and I want to be there to support them.”
Stenberg said Chula Vista has the same problems that have existed for too long and he wants to bring his vision for the homeless, housing, jobs, people, parks and libraries to City Council.
“We have a homeless problem,” he said. “I was wondering if Chula Vista was going to sign on with San Diego because they are making strides in their program. I know big cities work together. They share what they are doing like with National City and Lemon Grove, but Chula Vista is making big strides. They bought a big property, and they are going to stand up a village for homeless people. I am happy about that.”
Stenberg said in working with the homeless population that he wants to ensure that they have access to services, food, shelter, mental health, social work, helping those eligible for Social Security and are not claiming their benefits.
“I want to make the whole thing so that we can really help the homeless. I have no idea what it would be like to be homeless, but it is really scary, and I want to help those who are out there now,” he said.
Stenberg said Chula Vista needs to attract more businesses. He believes in small business, but he said he would like to attract large businesses to the city.
“They would really have to build out the east because there is really no room in the west side to speak of,” he said. “We are getting the Millennium with the hotel and amphitheater which is now going forward now that the Port of San Diego has finally signed the paperwork. That will be great for Chula Vista, and it will be such a giant area where people will want to come and stay in Chula Vista and they will have plenty to do with concerts, fishing, and the beach, and everything that the area has to offer. More business brings more revenue to the city, which allows us to do more with our city services. Public safety, public works, highways, the sidewalks, make more playgrounds, more libraries for our kids.”
Stenberg said housing is a problem and neither of his two kids can afford to buy a house.
“If I were in their age group now, I probably would not be able to afford it either, even with our two incomes,” he said. “I do not want to see people having to live in other towns like El Cajon, East County, and El Centro. I would like to see Chula Vista change that around. We are doing all the rentals in parking lots, so we are losing parking spaces, which as a business owner I hear the grumbles every day. But on the upside, we are making apartments for people to live in. And we are short on housing.”
Stenberg said with the bayfront now being built, property values will go up, and homes and rentals will increase, so he does worry about the gentrification of West Chula Vista.
“It will go higher than what inflation will do to the market anyway,” he said. “I do not necessarily want to designate a part of Chula Vista as a place to create lower income housing. I would like to see affordable housing made that does not raise up. It is hard to get an investor to buy property and then tell them they cannot raise the prices for the next five to 10 years. But I would like to make a housing deal that will not be matched to the bayfront project, and for the rest of our houses. One day the housing market is going to turn down, but the bayfront is going to bring it right back up again. I think we should get some sort of housing allowance or housing zone that will keep the prices down. Every time we see bare ground, something is being built on it, and we do not have much bare ground on the west side.”