Marco Contreras is running for Chula Vista City Council District 1. The 38-year-old Republican was born in San Diego, but grew up in Tijuana until he was 16 years old because his parents could not afford to raise him here. Contreras is married and has two children. The family lives in Otay/Eastlake, buying their first home in Chula Vista in 2014. He launched Rancho Customs Brokers, and Contreras was part of launching a church in Chula Vista in 2015. He is a pastor at Awaken Church in Eastlake.

Marco Contreras

Contreras said his vision for Chula Vista is it to be the safest district in the county, he wants to support small businesses, ensure there are funds for parks and road infrastructure, and supports getting a four-year university in the city.

Contreras said his visions for District 1 and the city are quite simple but believes they can make a big impact.

“I want to make Chula Vista the safest city in the county,” he said. “How are we going to accomplish that? Number one, making sure the police is well-funded, as well as the firefighters. I would love to have our police have the most competitive wages in the county so we can attract the best type of recruitment to the city. I would also love to be the lead in getting our fire department the most competitive wages in the county. That would not only attract people from San Diego County, but also throughout the state. I believe if we have a strong police and strong fire department, we can have the safest city in the county. I believe an elected official’s first priority should be safety and protection.”

Contreras said with the pandemic, the defund the police movement, and things like that, one thing learned was that Chula Vista is not exempt from disruption in the city. He said if you would have asked him in 2018 if civil riots and disobedience could happen in Chula Vista, he would have said absolutely not. But he said the disruptions that came from that in the county created good lessons the city can learn from.

Contreras said second, he wants to see the economy thrive in Chula Vista.

“We need to continue to attract businesses in Chula Vista, and Chula Vista needs to be the friendliest business city in the county,” he said. “From what I have heard in reaching out, people in the county, some people say Chula Vista is the hardest to do business in. I would like to change that and make it the easiest city to do business in. Permitting. Cities like the city of San Diego are a little bit ahead of us in how they issue their permits. I would suggest that we at least start by copy and pasting what they are doing and then improving upon it. As we make it easier, we will continue to attract more businesses.”

Contreras said Chula Vista is mainly a commuting city, with most citizens driving out of Chula Vista to go to their jobs.

“I believe we can move the needle in that realm,” he said.

Contreras said his third priority is housing.

“I want to continue to push for developments here in Chula Vista, especially in District 3, the southeast part of Chula Vista,” he said. “We have an ever increasing need for housing. Not only in Chula Vista, but in the state. I believe we have the land to solve that problem.”

Contreras said Chula Vista has a good opportunity to stop the proposed mileage tax.

“SANDAG has been pushing to put a tax on how many miles we drive in San Diego County, and I would vote against it,” he said. “The city of Chula Vista is one of two cities that has two votes on SANDAG, so I think that is going to be huge. My proposal is that we do not support that movement.”

Contreras said in dealing with the unsheltered, he does have a vision.

“I would love to have city of Chula Vista to be very attractive and clean. I think if we look at other cities like San Francisco, even downtown San Diego, unsheltered people actually hurts the economy, hurts the city, so I would love to change that,” he said. “We can learn from different places that are doing a good job. Not only for the unsheltered, but I know that in Texas for example, they started a program for people coming out of prison and training them to go back into society again to become productive citizens. Training them with different tools so they can participate in a trade job.”

Contreras said he believes the city can also partner with nonprofits. He said Awaken Church has a really effective and good recovery program for people who deal with different types of addiction.

“They put them in a program, and they have seen a really positive outcomes when they come out of the program,” he said. “I would like to bring programs like Awaken Church help the unsheltered. It is not only getting them housing. We have to get them integrated back into society. Get them back on their feet. If they do not have skills for a trade, bringing training centers or people that can help them learn skills, we can help them get a job. More than anything, it is a mental shift that makes things happen with people suffering from homelessness. This is one of the most important things from my heart, to help with that.”

Contreras said with the university district, he believes what the city has with SDSU and the art center, is a step in the right direction. He said he believes that the city needs a university, but it has to be the right university.

“Sadly, we have seen across the nation, many of these universities have become almost like extreme far left philosophy indoctrination centers, “he said. “We do not need that. This would actually bring chaos to our city. We need to bring in the right university, not an incorrect university. I do believe it would help our economy, but Chula Vista is a family-oriented community. It must fit the community. I believe if we force just any university, it will actually hurt us in the long run. If you look at the demographics of Chula Vista, I believe we have strong conservative values. Family, faith, and there are very good people in Chula Vista. They care about their jobs, taking care of their families.”

Contreras said he is on the board of Chula Vista Christian University and believes something like that, that would add value to the community, could be really good for the community. He said he knows there are other universities out there that the city can contact, but he wants to be part of that decision making.

“I live here. I have been a part of Chula Vista and South Bay since I was 16, but Chula Vista in particular since 2014, and I love this community,” he said. “I want to make sure that my children are safe, that my friends and family that are all in Chula Vista, that we feel like ‘this was a big win for Chula Vista, for the community, for the students,’ for Chula Vista, but also for homeless families.”

Contreras said he believes Chula Vista is heading in the right direction when it comes to the bayfront development. He said he knows about the proposed sports/ youth complex that was presented to Council by the Port of San Diego and the developer, even though there is no official request for the project submitted yet.

“I do love that it is going to bring around 4,000 jobs here in Chula Vista,” he said. “I think it is going to boost our economy and hopefully increase the value of homeowners that live near the bay. In most cities across the nation, the closer you live to the water, it adds more value. But not quite in Chula Vista. Being on Council, I would continue to move to be a catalyst in moving this project in the right direction.”

Contreras said he wants to get things done and that he is not a political career type of person.

“I have my businesses, I have my family, I have my church, and I want to be on council to be able to make right decisions for the city,” he said.

Contreras said District 1 is a beautiful district, it has beautiful homes, it is a newer community, very family oriented, and roads are taken care of.

“I do believe our parks need more attention,” he said. “They are good, but they could be excellent. One thing I do hear from the community is that they would like to see more of a police presence in my district.”

Contreras said he had the “honor” in doing a ride-along with the Chula Vista Police Department.

“My gosh, my level of the police department just went through the roof,” he said. “The things they deal with. On the very first call, they were dealing with this guy who was not really complying with the police. They were trying to help him. He was definitely under some substance. He went into a seizure. He almost died in front of us. I saw the fire and police dealing with this person with such delicacy and excellence. They got him to the hospital. The guy went through all the procedures, and he was able to recover. It was in the west side of Chula Vista. My point here, is that they have a bunch of calls, and the majority of them are in the west side of Chula Vista. It is a priority type system. Because you do not have much of that on the east part of Chula Vista, you do not always have a lot of police presence. Especially with the staffing problem we have. I think we are short about 40 police officers. I would love to continue to be an advocate for the police. Police reputations were damaged in 2020, many who wanted to become police decided not to. I think I can be part of that being an elected official. To restore the honor of being a police officer to attract more,” adding that that would bring more police presence in his district.

Contreras said he is “excited,” and this is an opportunity to put Chula Vista “on the map.”

“I think we have the opportunity to do something really good for Chula Vista in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said. “I do believe the future is bright, but we need to do right for the city. I believe we have the right leaders, and we can set up the city for the next two or three generations.”