2016 Elections with City of El Cajon City Council candidates

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It is election time in El Cajon and ballots will be cast for three City Council seats. Councilmember Bob McClellan is seeking a seventh term and Councilmember Star Bales who was appointed to the Council in December 2013 is running for her first election. Councilmember Tony Ambrose decided not to run for another term, leaving his position as an open seat.

With Measure S (District Elections) on the ballot this year, these seats may change the face of the 2018 election cycle if passed.

It is election time in El Cajon and ballots will be cast for three City Council seats. Councilmember Bob McClellan is seeking a seventh term and Councilmember Star Bales who was appointed to the Council in December 2013 is running for her first election. Councilmember Tony Ambrose decided not to run for another term, leaving his position as an open seat.

With Measure S (District Elections) on the ballot this year, these seats may change the face of the 2018 election cycle if passed.

With two incumbents and eight candidates running this section gives each a chance to voice their opinions on certain subjects. Each were given a list of four questions and a “free zone” to speak about whatever they thought was important for the City of El Cajon and why they should remain or be elected. Each was given a maximum of 1,000 words to answer. All candidates are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

Ben Kalasho

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

My name is Ben Kalasho and I am the Founder & President of the Miss Middle East Beauty Pageant but is also more famously known for being the Founder & President of the Chaldean American Chamber in the State of California. The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce has been dubbed the fastest growing business group in San Diego. I am also founded N-PIN, a global fundraiser which raised large funds for victims who escaped ISIS held territories. I am also behind San Diego’s most extravagant Masquerade Ball known as the Royals Masquerade Ball whereby the goal of that event is raising gift cards for the Homeless throughout San Diego. My latest creation is MEGA NETWORK, a TV media outlet based in San Diego bringing relevant news and important topics to the larger Middle Eastern Community on YouTube.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

I am indifferent to it. I believe that people should vote for the person they want in office and not just because of ethnicity, race, color, political party, gender or religion. 

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

The San Diego Reader did a cover story on me where I speak about this topic at length: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/apr/20/cover-closed-box-el-cajon/

The short answer is that El Cajon’s current economy cannot sustain any more refugees. We have to repair and rebuilt a lot of our failing infrastructure, roads and sidewalks before we are to responsibly take in any more people. Once we are an economic stable zone, we can re evaluate this position. 

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

In a city like El Cajon, I feel that Marijuana will get grossly abused. I say this while understanding the huge health benefits of cannabis for people with certain illnesses. I think we need to work on bringing the crime rate of El Cajon down before we consider legalizing Marijuana in this town. 

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“The most important issues for El Cajon residents are that our families live in a clean and safe community. I will ensure that our taxes and fees are justified and spent effectively.”

BEN knows El Cajon’s concerns first hand. He will work to insure that immigrants coming to El Cajon are vetted and will work to uphold American Values. 

BEN is the Founder & President of the fastest growing Chamber of Commerce in San Diego. 

BEN considers El Cajon a city of opportunity for business. He will work to attract new businesses and create more jobs for El Cajon residents as he has done throughout his successful Organizations. 

BEN went to school in East County and studied Economics at the University of California San Diego. He has been a local community leader for over 12 years.

BEN will be a councilman concerned about public issues, not politics. Local elected officials from all Republican, Democratic and Independent parties supports him. More importantly, he is supported by thousands of local residents.

BEN is walking door to door and is working hard to earn your vote. A vote for BEN is a vote for the kinds of results that renew El Cajon and your neighborhood! Contact Ben at www.BenKalasho.com or call 619-663-7710.

Bob McClellan

Tell us about your term(s) as city councilmember and what personally stands out to you as major accomplishments as a governmental body.

I have been a City Council person for 6 terms. The program of condo-conversion (apartments to condos) for home ownership helped people become homeowners rather than renters and upgraded the property during conversion increased the property values. The deemed approved ordinance that was put in place in recent years that limits alcohol sales to minors and serial inebriants…..where there had been 21 liquor stores that sold to minors once and 3 had sold to minors twice, and now are restricted as to what they can sell.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do you believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

I believe that Measure S is important because the State has mandated that Cities form districts for elections. If the vote is not in favor of this, the City could be sued and loose hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs, alone.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

I would be in favor of welcoming those refugees who have been highly and vetted and want to show their allegiance to the United States, understand and respect and adhere to our Constitution and our Flag.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

I would pass an ordinance not to allow marijuana outlets in the City of El Cajon.  Numerous cities throughout the United States that have allowed the sale have incurred detrimental health and cost issues for law enforcement.  It is a fact that marijuana usage may lead to harsher drug use.

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COMMERCE-El Cajon has one major hotel now in construction, with another one planned.  Many other industrial, as well as commercial, enterprises have established themselves recently or will in the near future.  This was overseen by the current City Council as well our City Manager.

George Glover

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I was born in San Diego and grew up in the SDSU area. I joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1973. I am a Vietnam Era veteran, the only veteran on the ballot. I attended Coleman College studying analog and digital electronics. For the past 36+ years I have worked in the computer industry. Oracle Corporation in San Diego where I am a Senior IT Manager currently employs me.

I am a partner in what may be the longest continually operating restaurant in El Cajon, The Wrangler Family Barbecue Pit. I am an American Legion member, City of El Cajon Veterans’ Commission Commissioner, and East County Chamber of Commerce Veterans Round Table. This combined professional and life experience qualifies me to serve the residents of El Cajon. I hope to fill the seat being vacated by Tony Ambrose, the only veteran on the current council.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

It’s more a question of population, than geography. The California Voting Rights Act is in place to ensure that there is representation for all groups living in a community. Every city with a population more than 100,000 that has tried to fight districting has lost. Cities paid their attorney’s, the winning party’s attorneys, and court fees. Cost to the community could be more than $1,000,000.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

We are a nation of immigrants. Most of us can trace our ancestry outside the U.S. I want to be sure that the infrastructure of our city can provide for more refugees/immigrants regardless of where they come from, before they arrive. Basic city provided services such as police, fire, public works, etc., are the foundation and must be in place, and be able to support the residents.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

I rather not have the sales here in El Cajon. I’m thinking of my daughter. There are way too many things for a teenager to deal with in these times, without the temptation of having legal pot around. Not that she could buy it being underage, but I have not doubt that some of the pot bought legally would find it’s way in into our children’s hands. I’d rather not have that around.

I would simply vote against it.

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Public safety is top priority to ensure quality of life now and in the future. Our city must be safe for. Our children must be able to walk to and from school, play in our public parks without fear of crime, abduction, or bullying. I support the work that our police and fire departments do, and will work to ensure they have all the resources required to assure our safety. I support our local school districts and agree that we need to continue to partner with them.

I’ll watch our spending, and be sure the budget is always balanced while not having to use our surplus funds. Expenditures should be well scrutinized and vetted to be sure that our funds are spent wisely and only on equipment and services that contribute to safety and betterment.

We need to keep our current business base and bring new business. A local business owner, I understand needs and issues of business owners. I’ll work to keep current businesses thriving and attract other businesses to El Cajon. Projects like the Marriott hotel, Mercedes Benz dealership are essential, and we need more. It provides new jobs for the community and increases the tax base. They bring customers to who will spend income at local businesses. A strong business base makes our community attractive for those seeking to purchase a home.

This is a great place to live, so we need to be sure people can continue to afford to buy. We need to ensure the current city plan includes growth of single-family dwellings. We have enough apartments. We need more units that are owner occupied. Pride in ownership helps keep neighborhoods safe, keeps neighborhoods attractive to those considering home ownership. I will work with local real estate groups to ensure that we have a good plan that meets our housing needs, now and in the future. A strong real estate base also makes our community an attractive place for businesses.

El Cajon is culturally diverse. We are a micro-representation of the American Dream. Anyone from anywhere in the world can come, be a success, and enjoy the freedom that only America offers. America on Main Street, Downtown Farmers Market, and Friday Night Dinner and a Concert, promote, and enhance cultural unity. With diversity come issues. We have to tackle them head on and come together as a community to resolve the disagreements.

Homelessness needs work towards a solution. We have to continue our efforts until we have significantly reduced the number of homeless. In a response to a Grand Jury report on homelessness, it was noted exactly what the city is doing. I agree with the response. El Cajon offers more services for the homeless than any other community in East County. I’ll work with those agencies that I am already connected with, and will do all I can to reduce the number of homeless in our community.

We need to better support, assist, and recognize our nearly 9,000 strong veteran community. I am a Vietnam Era Veteran and an American Legion member. I serve on the City’s Veterans’ Commission. To honor our local veterans, I authored and won council approval for the City of El Cajon Veteran of the Year award and am a member of the East County Chamber of Commerce Veterans Round Table. Many elected officials at the local, county, state, and federal level recognized me for my community work. I am working with Council to design and build a Veterans Memorial to honor veterans of El Cajon.

ECPAC should be brought back to life. It needs a complete renovation and it will be expensive. I support that, but not unless there is a solid use/management plan that assures the residents they will get a proper return on their investment. If that can’t be then I would rather not expend the funds, and seek an alternative.

Humbert Cabrera

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

The purpose for running is in order to fulfill the needs of the citizens and businesses of El Cajon. The amount of Government bureaucracy must be decreased in order to bring more jobs and businesses into El Cajon. In addition, we should be concerned that Syrian refugees are not put ahead of the line and that they get proper immigration screening prior to becoming a member of our community.

I am proud to be El Cajon’s Citizen of the Year. I am a native of El Cajon were I reside with my family. I am the owner of a local design and drafting firm that serves the East County and surrounding communities. In 2015 I served as this first elected minority president of the El Cajon Rotary. This platform was used to raise over 8-10K more revenue than the previous year. This money assisted in funding various educational and community service based programs in East County, such as the dictionary fund for third graders, after school reading programs, and the El Cajon Main Street flag days. We increased the number of Rotary work days, providing members with more volunteer hours for organizations such as the Home of Guiding Hands, Salvation Army, One Thousand Smiles, and St Madeline Sophie’s Center. As president I worked to bridge the gap between the local Lions Club, Kiwanis and Elks Lodge, bringing the leaders of these organizations together to join forces in serving the community. This leadership helped bring 14-16 new community oriented members into the El Cajon Rotary club.

I continue to serve on the board of the Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation and serve on the board of the Salvation Army of El Cajon Corps and am part of the building and construction committee to help design and raise funds for the new Food Bank/ Community Center that is in the works to serve the needy of the East County. We assisted in the annual Spring Golf Tournament. During the Christmas Season my family and staff volunteer for the toy drive and bell ringing for the Army’s Red Kettle.

I am a board member of CASA (Community Action Service Advocacy) and LAPA (Latino American Political Association) which helps poor minority communities. I am also active in the Elks Lodge and the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. My company has provided services for the ECP (East County Posse) to help quadriplegics and those with rare physical conditions get permits for retrofitting additions to structures. We recently volunteered our time to complete a set of plans and obtained a permit for a 9-year-old quadriplegic child and her family to make their home handicap accessible. 

Creating opportunities for minorities, handicapped, and refugee by providing one-on-one job skill training and mentoring, is a task we take on. As a community activist, I worked to pass the Deemed Approved Ordinance, Proposition D, and the elimination of the faulty red light cameras in the City of El Cajon.

We have worked to meet with community officials in order to make changes in streamlining the building and permits process in several communities, thus assisting homeowners and several small businesses with their ability to thrive.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)

Measure S is important for legal reasons. The State has mandates that we must comply with as a City. However, I am worried that we should always be working to unite American’s and not divide citizens into small groups. This always results in pitting one group against another rather than uniting us in a patriotic way.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

After walking the districts, I can honestly say that the citizens of El Cajon are concerned about this matter. As a native, I can recall when other refugee groups have started in El Cajon, become successful, and settled in other parts of San Diego. It is imperative that we ask the Federal government for the money that is not currently being properly routed to El Cajon. I will work with our partners in the Federal Government to correct this oversight. The citizens have also clearly expressed the need to get proper immigration screening should any additional Syrian Refugees be in our future.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

This is where sitting down with community organization such as the CASA group and the Chamber would be perfect, in order to get their input. I believe that the city ordinance could be re-written to insulate El Cajon. Our current ordinance lists the zoning per occupancy designation. I would prefer to modify it to read that the sales cannot occur within residential areas. This would make most of the areas in El Cajon not viable for dispensaries. 

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Please go to www.HumbertCabrera.com to find further information on the campaign.

Joseph R.  Fountain

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I am new to El Cajon. I am from Massachusetts and have taught in Arizona for the last 4 years. I have spent my entire adult life working in some capacity for others and in the pursuit of attaining public office for the purpose of making a difference in people’s lives. I am running because I have a lot to offer to El Cajon and San Diego County.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

In 1996/1997 as a college student I filed a class action against the City of Springfield Massachusetts for the purpose of Ward/District Representation. I based my lawsuit on Miller v. Johnson. In Springfield in took nearly 20 years to get it, and it has made Springfield City Council more representative. I believe that Measure S is a good idea and it will lead to better government in El Cajon.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

I believe that if the people of El Cajon have family members who are refugees, they should be allowed to help them immigrate and we as a community should do everything in our powers to help. We also have to support every effort to stabilize the regions to which there are literally millions of people are running and are in fear for their lives. In Syria, over half of the population has left the country because of the Civil War. W

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

We have had a war on drugs since the 1970’s. Our war on drugs has caused out prison population to explode. There is no proof that Marijuana is a gateway drug and in California, it is already legal. The problem is that because it is not completely legal, we are still waging a war on it and the only people who are going to jail are poor people. People who can’t get a medical card. El Cajon should take advantage of it and allow for the growing and sale of Marijuana products in under utilized areas.

Free Zone

El Cajon has an image problem. The downtown area is beautiful, but when you talk to people about El Cajon, they say there is nothing there but crazy people and bums. It is an image problem that has some merit because of some really bad zoning and confusion between incorporated and unincorporated sections of El Cajon. El Cajon needs some new leadership. They need a residency requirement for city employees and a requirement for more parking for multi family housing projects.

Paul Circo

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I have been a resident, employee, and community volunteer in El Cajon for more than 16 years. I met my wife while attending college in El Cajon, and currently raises his children in our city. I am deeply involved in city issues through my role on the El Cajon Planning Commission, I was a critical force in stopping the proposed downtown development plan that would have required a minimum of eight stories in certain parts of our city.

As a Councilmember, I will be dedicated to focusing on the issues that matter to all residents such as infrastructure, parks, public safety, and a growing local economy. As a father of four children growing up in our city, I view the city through their eyes. I want them to grow up experiencing El Cajon as a tight community – not a big city. I believe protecting our heritage is critical to the future of El Cajon.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

After attending several workshops and meetings about the districting plan, I understand that districting is happening whether or not cities want it to happen—I believe that passing Measure S is the only way that our citizens will have input into the dividing lines of the future districts—letting us decide who will represent our area on the City Council. I think this will weaken the voices of our citizens, but not as much as having someone appointed by the state drawing the lines.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

I do believe our diversity gives us a unique strength in our city, and while the initial influx may tax our resources, as the newcomers learn and become part of our community, we all benefit. The key is incorporation—becoming part of the larger community. It should not matter what country or area the refugees are from—we give them the opportunity for a better life.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

I would first look at what zoning laws the mid-sized cities in Colorado have put into place, how the laws have functioned, and how well they work before changing any ordinances in El Cajon.

Free Zone

We face a combination of a growing population, and a land-locked city. We have been working towards higher density out of necessity, and my goal is to not lose the character of El Cajon in the process. As a Councilmember, I would advise the Planning Commission to continue the careful guidelines that bring to the city well-developed housing, in a variety of shapes and prices.

Another priority for me is our growing homeless population. Each homeless person has their own story, and some that I have spoken with have no desire to get off the street. That being said, most do want help of some form, and I believe encouraging the private non-profit community to aid them is the best answer we have. Some need psychiatric help, some need jobs, most need food, most need a safe place to sleep and wash—some need help to get off drugs. Each of these can be addressed with help from the community. I would like to help our community develop resources that will assist those that want assistance to get off the streets and into safe and healthy locations.

Join me on Facebook @ Circo4CityCouncil, or www.CircoCityCouncil.com

Star Bales

Tell us about your term as city councilmember and what personally stands out to you as major accomplishments as a governmental body.

As a City Councilmember, what stands out to me as a major accomplishment is job creation. Brining a four star hotel such as Marriott Court and New car dealerships to the City helped accomplish my goal.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

It is important for Measure S to pass, because It is most likely that our City would be sued if it does not pass. The lawsuit then would cost our taxpayer citizens several million dollars.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

The City of El Cajon always has been a welcoming City. The Middle Eastern refugees will come to our City regardless, because in most cases, we are powerless to determine where they relocate and they like to go to where a family member or a friend is living. My job as a city Council is to help them assimilate.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

If Proposition 64 does pass, I will do my best not to allow sales of Marijuana in my City.

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I am determined to continue the revitalization of our city. I plan to hire extra Police officers and Firefighters with the extra tax revenue generated by the revitalization of our city.

Stephanie L. Harper

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I am a lifelong citizen of El Cajon, a mother of two, I attended Mira Costa College where 1 received my paralegal certification. I have volunteered with the ‘Rock & Roll Marathon; volunteered at my children’s school; and helping people register to vote. I am running for city council because I love my city. I know I can make the difference that will start the change my city needs to better the quality of life for all citizens. 

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

I have many concerns regarding measure S. I believe that if it is mapped in the correct way it may benefit the citizens of El Cajon. My concerns start with the afterwards that may prove to be the downfall. If all council is sharing city funds, what happens when one district is in need of more funding than the others? I don’t think that the others will let go of those funds to help another district. If there was a structure regarding where funds are allocated first could possibly help that problem.  With the city only being about 15 miles across it is going to be a challenge mapping the city districts correctly.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

I believe that for the size of our city, only being about 15 miles and home to over 102,000 people that seems pretty crowded already. But I would not want to be anywhere but with my family, so it makes sense to go where your family is. I have heard from a lot of our citizens that they feel like the Middle Eastern citizens are taking over. They feel as if the Middle Eastern citizens get benefits just because they are not a United States citizen. I support having families stay together but I know not everyone thinks the same as me. We need to find a way to stop projecting this way of thinking, it’s those thoughts that become action and will keep us divided.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

I support Prop 64, so if it passes I will vote to allow the sale of marijuana in El Cajon according to the law past. But since El Cajon is a charter city we still make our own laws to a certain degree. So we .would have to change the municipal code under chapter 9.47 mobile marijuana  dispensaries and but not limited to 9.47.010 to 9.47.060. I believe that no one should be denied the medication they need to be pain free and we should not put our own views in front of a medical need.

Free Zone

Homelessness in our city is out of control.  Local government has swept this problem under the rug one to many times. Now is the time to face this problem and find solutions for it. The tax dollars we have put into fixing this problem are not working, it simple Is not enough and more needs to be done. We are talking about families with no home. Children sleeping on the streets or home being a car or hotel room. This is not right and we must do something now to fix this now. I have a plan.

I think there is a lot of fat we could cut from our budget for instants, the city has spent well over five million dollars in the past four years on vehicles alone. Two million dollars has already been allocated for upgrades at the Ronald Reagan community center. That project was put on agenda by Mayor and council members and not at the request of a citizen. We had to pay a bond off for funds we should have already had from Prop 0 for the construction of a new animal shelter. The administrate cost on any project that is done is in the tens of thousands of dollars. That is on top of the money we pay for administrative employees’ salaries. The city has given raised every year for city employees who are higher up in government when were told that becoming a charter city would cut that need.  To me it is just plan wasteful spending and greed.

Let’s get real about our East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC). Our city government has avoided putting the repairs on agenda for this project. Now they will claim this is not true but the last item on agenda was a notice of competition for a roof repair done a year ago. City council does what they want with the citizens tax dollars, even when the citizens tell them where they want their money to go. Time and time again citizens have asked council to at least start the process of reopening the ECPAC. Council will not answer the question why they are stalling on this project.

Steve Goble 

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I grew up in El Cajon, a city Im still proud today to call my home. I am married to my beautiful wife Lindy and have two stepdaughters: Carly (26) and Jordanna (30), married to her husband John and parents of 2 twin daughters.

I’m running for City Council because I have a passion for civic service. I will work to boost public safety, improve our neighborhoods, attract and grow business, invest in kids and seniors, and ensure sound fiscal management. Simply put, I will bring together and serve the people of El Cajon, making it a better community.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not)?

Measure S will bring city government closer to the people. This is a trend occurring in primarily in cities over 100,000 as they comply with the California Voting Rights of 2001. If we don’t pass Measure S, it’s likely the city will face a lawsuit over alleged violations of the Act and spend millions defending itself. In recent actions seen in other cities, no city has successfully defended itself, and millions have been spent in a legal defense. It’s important to pass Measure S to bring government closer to the people and save taxpayer dollars for more important needs such as increased public safety.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

In the 1970’s, international refugees from Vietnam received 36 months of federal assistance. Today’s incoming refugees only get 9 months. Then they’re on their own. We need more help from the federal government to support those we already have in our community. Until we can better help those already here get the education and training they need to become more independent of the government and assimilate into the American culture, I think El Cajon must look to other cities and communities in the region to share the effort.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon?

We can’t let this come to El Cajon. According to SANDAG, in the first six months of this year, property crimes are up 14% vs last year.  We know people steal things to sell and pay for their drugs. Allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in our city will complicate the job for police officers who already are understaffed.   We need to be proactive and ensure our zoning laws don’t permit the presence and operation of these businesses in El Cajon.

Free Zone

My life and work experience has prepared me to be a leader serving the people of El Cajon.  As a successful small business owner three times, I understand how to lead organizations from different aspects: an owner creating jobs, a marketing professional promoting the value of the business, and a contributor to community charity. I also have experience in large organizations, including managing budgets and measuring performance.

Outside of work, I have a heart for those less fortunate. I’ve volunteered time as a wish granter for the Make A Wish Foundation; a home repair handyman for seniors and low-income individuals through Lutheran Social Services; a volunteer manager at The Salvation Army for their Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinners for the homeless; as a marketing advisor for Partnerships With Industry, an organization which helps adults with developmental disabilities gain employment.

There are many good things happening in El Cajon now, with construction of new homes and businesses.  However, we also face a challenge of increasing crime. To make El Cajon attractive for people to live, shop, and play in El Cajon, we need safer neighborhoods.

According to SANDAG’s mid-year report for 2016, violent crime in El Cajon is up 28%. Property crime is up 14%.  I believe a significant factor in this is the result of AB109 and Prop 47. AB109 moved prisoners from state prison to county jails, which already didn’t have room for them. As a result, many have been released into the community on probation. Prop 47 reclassified some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.  Now, drug sellers know the worst they’ll get is a ticket instead of jail time.  There are more criminals on the street, and we’re seeing increased crime as a result.  The state didn’t give us funding to manage that shift of responsibility.

Adding to that problem is fewer police officers. This year’s budget has 20 fewer officers than we had in 2003.  And those we do have, we don’t pay enough, ranking 16th or worse out of 19 cities listed in a November, 2014 report.

We also need to take more action on solving a growing homeless issue. The County has provided more resources to help, so we need to get that help to those with mental health, substance abuse, and PTSD issues into treatment programs. We need to help people who are temporarily displaced into shelter.

The County has allocated $20 million this year, $28 million next year. We need to clean up our neighborhoods and get those who need help the resources to get back on their feet.

There are other priorities I have outlined, available for review at  www.GobleForCouncil.com.

Simply put, I want to be part of making El Cajon better than it already is. There are many challenges, and there are many opportunities. We just need to gather people together to find solutions for the problems and raise visibility of the opportunities. Former mayor Joan Shoemaker has endorsed me, saying, “Steve, you just need two things: Integrity and Common Sense.”  Along with Mayor Shoemaker’s endorsement, I’ve been honored to have the endorsement of a spectrum of elected, business, and community leaders including San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the El Cajon Police Officers’ Association, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and others.

El Cajon is entering a new phase of prosperity with many improvements to the city.  Now we just need to make sure our community is safe and clean to enhance the value of those improvements. I would appreciate the vote of residents in El Cajon to be part of the solution.

Vickie Butcher

Tell us about yourself, work that you have done in the community and why you are running for City Council.

I am a 35 year resident of the City of El Cajon and have raised five children in this city. I hold a BA degree in Special Education as a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing and I earned a Law degree after the birth of my fifth child. I have served 12 years on the El Cajon City Planning Commission. Two years as its chair. I have served as president of national, state and local organizations, including President of El Cajon Breakfast Rotary Club and El Cajon Sunset Rotary Club. I joined Kiwanis in honor of my brother, Oscar Knight, III, who served as a Kiwanis International Trustee. I served on the California State 5th Regional Water Quality Control Board, County Human Relations Commission and as a citizen representative on an FDA Review Panel. I am currently Executive Director of an international nonprofit organization. I am running for City Council because as a 12 year member of the Planning Commission I learned about our city’s governance and gained valuable experience in making many land use decisions for our city. This experience, along with my many opportunities to gain other leadership experience, has prepared me to serve as an El Cajon City Council Member.

With the size of the City of El Cajon being 14.43 miles, why do believe that Measure S is important (or not).

Measure S is important because the demographics of El Cajon have changed but the representation on City Council has barely done so. There are currently more Latinos, Chaldeans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African refugees and African Americans in our city than we have had in the past. These diverse populations bring concerns and cultural differences that would more likely be represented on the El Cajon City Council if the members were elected from the districts in which they live rather than on a city wide basis.

With the international refugee crisis are you in favor of welcoming more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon? Why or why not?

Yes, I am in favor of “Welcoming” more Middle Eastern refugees into El Cajon by being sensitive to their transition. This means we must strive to create a city in which we “Welcome” not only the new comers but all of the diverse cultures that currently reside here. As a member of El Cajon City Council, there is an opportunity to help create an exemplary city in America where diverse cultures can live together in harmony and unity with each other. Where citizens of diverse cultures not only talk to each other but truly LISTEN to one another. The El Cajon Friendship Festival was an outstanding El Cajon Event. It should not be funded by the city but can be a cultural volunteer driven celebration of the citizens that live in El Cajon.

If California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization passes what steps would you take to allow or disallow sales of marijuana in El Cajon? 

I would work with our city leaders to regulate this new law as to who, what, when and where sales of marijuana would take place within the cities current guidelines. I would review and analyze how other cities have handled the matter and together with our cities leadership strive to make the best decisions for all of the citizens of El Cajon with special focus on education of our youth.

Free Zone

The recent tragic shooting in El Cajon on September 27, 2016 has left us all stunned and searching for answers. This event underscores the need for better understanding and communication between the police and the community they serve. It is a powerful statement when large numbers of citizens peacefully take to the streets to protest the violent loss of life and to demand answers. This protest action can and did become an ugly confrontation. These acts point to the need for change but do not achieve the desired goal of greater understanding on both sides.

El Cajon is a city with changing demographics and is becoming even more diverse. That diversity is not reflected on the Police Force or on the City Council. I submit that I am a positive choice and an experienced voice to serve on the El Cajon City Council. The present City Council voted to reject the Grand Jury’s recommendation that in order to build trust within the community, a Citizens Commission should be founded to independently investigate complaints against the Police Department. If such a commission were in place, this is the exact type of incident that would be reviewed. I support transparency in government and the creation of an El Cajon Citizen’s Oversight Commission.

Vote for Vickie Knight Butcher for El Cajon City Council Member. A positive choice. An experienced voice.

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