Chula Vista candidates racing toward June election

Now through June The Star-News will feature interviews with candidates running for a variety of public offices.

Carolina Chavez


Carolina Chavez is running for City Council District 1, a seat being vacated by Council member John McCann who is currently running for mayor.

Chavez, 38 and a Democrat, said she grew up in the region, knows Chula Vista well, and in getting involved with politics at a very young age, she has worked on many local campaigns.

“I began as a reporter, one thing led to another, and I learned much about international trade, economic development, and the synergy of how we work in this region,” she said.

“We live so close to the border that the community is a floating population. We have so many diverse opportunities here in Chula Vista.”

Chavez said in working with economic development and international trade, she has experience in working with all levels of government on both sides of the border. She said she worked for a couple of mayors earlier in life and now works for the city of San Diego District 3 with Council member Stephen Whitburn as the director of Business Policy & Economic Development. Before that, Chavez said she worked in healthcare at Sensa Health for six years, working on both sides of the border, so she has a good understanding of how healthcare works.

“Nowadays, when you have a healthcare bill, and many also have childcare bills, or college loans, all of those are another mortgage,” she said. “We need to find solutions that work best for everyone. We need to keep flexibility in how we create legislation in moving forward, creating holistic solutions.”

Chavez said in her top priorities involve diversifying and attracting opportunities for economic development.

“I have such a passion there,” she said. “I know how to bring companies, or people already here together. Right now, it is difficult to open a new business or expand, but it is difficult navigating through the city. A large part of my job now is helping businesses navigate through the city.”

Chavez said when the pandemic began, she was still working in healthcare, she understands how to set up camps, work with frontline workers, and that everyone was overwhelmed with the unknown, especially with so many people dying.“When we started understanding more, I got pulled into the government of San Diego, and I started helping small businesses, and businesses in general, to get them back on their feet and getting some of the COVID relief funds available,” she said.

Chavez said tackling the housing crises is another priority.

“I think everything goes hand-in-hand,” she said. “We know we need more housing. I try to look at it in a holistic way. We are not just going to say we need to build more affordable housing. We need to think about how we are keeping jobs closer to home, how we are promoting investments in our city, and how we are promoting young folks who are graduating and leaving our town because there are not enough local opportunities.”

Chavez said keeping the carbon footprint down is always talked about, but there is little talk on promoting jobs closer to home. She said MTS has so many great projects that have so much potential if tapped into.

“So much potential to bring in more lines,” she said. “There is federal funding. There are many solutions that we can work on together with all levels of government to bring more funding, create more programs, crime…But we are not looking for solutions to precisely attack after school programs, investing in more green spaces, libraries, crating more revenue for the city, and to be able to invest in all this.”

Chavez said what Chula Vista needs and what sets her aside from other candidates, is that she has been working in bi-national and international affairs in economic development since she was 18.

“I know how local, state and federal funding works,” she said. “And that is my number one priority, creating more revenue for the city, crating more jobs closer to home, and I am passionate about childcare.”

Chavez said she is passionate about talking to colleges and universities, and cities, in creating assessable programs, so that down the line people do not have to worry about buying a house, and the inability to create generational wealth.

Chavez said these things are important to her as she has never “been handed anything.”

“I do not come from wealth,” she said. “My parents were hard workers. My grandfather was a strawberry field picker, working 16 hour days, sometimes sleeping sitting down. I am aware of what hard work is and never thought I would be representing people like me, or that we would have a voice at the table where the decisions are made. That is a humbling experience by itself.”

Chavez said the passion and dedication she has demonstrated over the years will show in her work. She said she knows how to talk to constituents, how to help them work, and navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

“But we can do better,” she said. “Chula Vista is a great city that has so much potential to be so much more. I think I can be an asset to the city and represent the voice of the community. My office door will always be open. My district is such a great district. And with my experience, I believe that I can work together on city council to find holistic solutions. I know we need police, firefighters, and I believe that we can work together to find solutions.”

As the chair for the International Business Affairs San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chavez said in her travels to Mexico City and Washington D.C., she could tell how often many of the leaders were unaware of their own local problems.

“That is your responsibility as a representative of a district, but you also need to realize that you are not an island,” she said. “What is good for me is going to be good for the region. I will be a voice for those who are not heard, or do not know how to be heard. That is my promise.”

Chavez said there needs to be more opportunities for youth. First, more schools, programs assessable to all, and that education should not be a luxury.

“We are expecting too much for future generations and expecting them to thrive, but without giving them the tools,” she said.

Chavez said she believes in better educational opportunities, and a university coming to Chula Vista, but that it must be approached as to what is best for the people, and best for the city.

“Overall, we need more college opportunities,” she said. “But we have to look at it from several directions and right now college opportunities are a luxury that should not be a  luxury.”

Chavez said in her view, she sees the bayfront project as something that will elevate Chula Vista and that you cannot detain progress.

“We are looking to grow. We are looking to bring in this revenue into the city because at the end of the day, which is what is going to help this city,” she said. “There are only a few things that we can tax.”

Chavez said in looking beyond the bayfront, there is plenty of commercial space in the city and land use it can benefit from when utilized hand in hand with people and businesses that have the best interest in the city and creating opportunities for local jobs.

“We need to find a way to find valuable and dignified jobs that allow our citizens to be able to afford to send their kids to college, to buy their first house,” she said. “We need to look at solutions that benefit the community when looking at bringing economic development, creating more housing, who we are partnering with as a city, how employers are treating their employees. We need to address these background factors that have not been addressed.”

Chula Vista candidates racing toward June election