When later this month Steve Padilla saunters through the revolving door at City Hall he will be greeted by those who have walked before him down the same trail.
Chosen over Jason Paguio by District 3 voters in November’s election, Padilla returns to the City Council dais as a councilman. He will be seated next to Mayor Mary Casillas Salas who returned to the City Council in 2012 after terming out in 2004. Casillas Salas, of course, parlayed her name recognition and experience into a successful mayoral bid half way through her third council term and eventually endorsed Padilla in his D3 bid after initially talking him out of applying for her vacated seat two years ago.
Another familiar face to Padilla, although perhaps not as welcoming, will be councilman John McCann’s. McCann, too, came back to the council chamber as a third term representative, having served his first eight years between 2002 and 2010 and then serving a stint on the Sweetwater Union High School District board of directors.
(McCann, incidentally beat Padilla by only two votes in 2014 when they ran against each other for the same seat.)
Padilla has co-goverened with both McCann and Casillas Salas — when he was mayor between 2002 and 2004 and the trio’s terms overlapped. The triumvirate is a familiar one to voters and residents of Chula Vista, as are the problems and challenges they campaigned to resolve over many years.
Chula Vista continues to export the bulk of its workforce to cities outside its boundaries — to San Diego, for example, where there is a wider variety of careers to be had and even the minimum wage ones pay more because the City Council there mandated a higher pay rate for the people who work there.
Commuter traffic still clogs stretches of South County freeway and streets while infrastructure maintenance has been lacking (although Casillas Salas did successfully campaign for a tax increase to be used to pay for repairs).
The promising bayfront development no longer languishes amid environmental and industrial hurdles but the days of having a vibrant economy along the water — one where people in hotel, tourism and service industries are earning a comfortable living wage — are still a long way off.
University development in the east part of the city still plods along inches at a time, although housing developments such as Millennia are making robust progress.
And finally, roughly 12 percent of Chula Vista’s estimated 265,757 residents live in poverty, a figure that has not significantly changed for the better in recent years.
But who knows, maybe this time Padilla, McCann and Salas will have all the answers and solve all the problems.