After three weeks of deliberations and interviews, and notwithstanding calls for a special election to fill the District 3 open council seat, Chula Vista City Council voted to appoint Alonso Gonzalez as council member for District 3, vacated by Steve Padilla who was elected to the State Senate in the November 2022.
The appointment came after nearly three hours of public comment calling for a special election, and some members of the public uniting against applicant Devonna Almagro, who was nominated by Council members Andrea Cardenas and Carolina Chavez at the Jan. 24 meeting. Almagro was accused of lying about her college education, and questioning her residency, the vote carried 3-1 with Mayor John McCann casting the only dissenting vote.
McCann had motioned to move from the appointment process to a special election to give the decision making process back to the voters of District 3, but with no second, his motion failed.
Gonzalez will serve as District 3 council member through November 2024, at which time he will not be able to seek election to District 3. City Clerk Kerry Bigelow said in accordance with City Charter Section 300(E), Gonzalez cannot run for the seat for a period of one year following the termination of the appointment term.
Gonzalez, a seven year resident of the city, comes with more than 10 years of real estate experience as a principal/broker for Pac Pro Real Estate. He is a former deputy chief of staff for the San Diego City Council from 2006 -2009, and also a land-use analyst for former San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders.
He was nominated by Cardenas who said after looking at interviewees and what they have to offer, “District 3 is probably the best poised to grow in all of the city.”
“I think there is one special expertise that would be very valuable for that district, and that is land use,” she said. “Because of that I have decided to nominate tonight someone who is a specialist in this field, someone who has worked in this, is a professional in this arena and I think would serve well on this council.”
Cardenas’s motion was seconded by Council member Jose Preciado.
Gonzalez was sworn in by the city clerk immediately after the vote. He said he hopes to “rise to the occasion.”
“As I said in my interview, I will not take this opportunity for granted, and wow, what a process, a tough process. A tip of the hat to all the applicants who did a great job. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and I thank you and acknowledge you for being a part of this with me. I think it is appropriate for this to have been a selection based on a tough process and compromise. I think that good government process takes backbone and that is what I will bring to the conversation as well. I will be tough up here but I am also willing to compromise, and work hard. I would be remiss if I did not say thank you to the support of my friends. Especially my family,” he said.
“I am an advocate for healthy, vibrant communities that favor inclusion over single family zoning. My expertise with land use and experience in local government administration are the tools that will allow me to serve the Chula Vista City Council District 3 and its residents well,” Gonzalez added in a Feb. 1 press release.