As an incumbent, Parent represents face of change in La Mesa

Colin Parent

A progressive Democrat, Colin Parent is running for reelection to La Mesa City Council. Parent grew up in East County, attended Valhalla High School, celebrated his birthdays at Collier park and learned Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion dance at the La Mesa Women’s Club. Upon his election in 2016, Parent was the first Democrat to serve on the council in more than 20 years.

“That is consistent to where the voters are trending in La Mesa. I think it was a wakeup call to some of my colleagues on council that La Mesa is changing and we need to make sure our La Mesa officials are recognizing that and helping our city move forward with those changes,” he said.

Parent worked in public service for most of his career, serving the Housing and Community Development and subsequently the San Diego Housing Commission under Gov. Jerry Brown. He is currently the executive director for Circulate San Diego, a non-profit that advocates for transit, safe streets and state of growth.

“I am running for reelection because it has been an honor my constituents,” he said. “I feel like I have gotten a lot done, but also want to continue the hard work for La Mesa.”

Parent said during his first term he is proud in helping La Mesa adopt an enforceable Climate Action Plan. La Mesa is the first city in East County to do so. He said he was successful in keeping the new and improved farmer’s Market within the La Mesa Village.

“That has been a great success to attract people into one of our core areas and create an opportunity for neighbors and residents and families to have something fun to do on Fridays,” he said.

Parent said it is now easier for homeowners to invest in their properties by building accessory units, sometimes called granny flats. He said Council streamlined many unnecessary regulations making it more realistic for homeowners to make these types of improvements on their prop

I have be able to make it easier for homeowners to be able to invest in their own properties.

Parent said Covid-19 hit the county hard and he thinks that everyone needs to take the virus very seriously, follow all of the public health orders and not to pretend that this is not a real dangerous thing for many people.

“What is also true is the closure of businesses, the seesawing of rules has created a big challenge for the local economy and people’s jobs. I think it is important that the city of La Mesa took efforts to make it easier for restaurants and other businesses to operate outside where all the science shows that it is safer,” he said. “That does not solve the problem for a lot of businesses but at least it creates more opportunities to operate without subjecting customers or workers to unnecessary risks.”

Parent said he is very disappointed with some elected officials in the region, including on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors who “want to pretend that this virus is not dangerous” and complains about County and State mandates without trying to implement local safety rules.

“If we are going to demand more local authority over these decisions, then we have the obligation to exercise those authorities responsibly,” he said. “And that does not seem to be the priority with some of our local elected officials.”

Parent said he was successful in making sure that CARES Act funding went to providing relief to people at risk of eviction. He said that it was a relatively small amount compared to the need of the City and hopes that Congress will provide additional help in the near future.

“If that occurs, I am going to strongly push to ensure that money is dedicating as much as possible to help our most vulnerable,” he said.

With the protests, looting and vandalism that took place on May 30, Parent said he believes that most La Mesans are in support of the right of protesting and sympathetic about the concerns with police reforms.

“But we are also simultaneously all 100% opposed to any rioting or looting that occurred,” he said. “It was really heartbreaking for a lot of people, me included, to see what was happening to our city. I was very pleased but not surprised that the very next day people all went out into the streets with buckets and brooms and got to work on cleaning things up and helping businesses to repair and protect themselves. I think that is reflective of the very best of La Mesa and that is what we should be focusing on going forward.”

Parent said he supports the formation of a police oversight body and it is needed to create more accountability and to repair the trust between the police department and the public. He said he voted for the establishment of an oversight committee and looks forward to fully implementing the plan.

With outside “protection groups” moving into La Mesa for subsequent protests, Parent said that if people want to support law enforcement, they should join a neighborhood watch, not a racist Facebook page.

“I think that vigilantism is always a bad idea,” he said. “I know some of the people that are getting involved in the sort of yellow vests. Some of them are just worried business owners or trying to grasp in some way how to feel safer and I appreciate that. But I do not think that it is a wise strategy for those folks to try and supplement law enforcement in our community.”

Parent said there is a reason that training, revues and disciplinary proceeding are in place and those systems must be protected for both law enforcement and the public.

“This kind of cowboy vigilantism is not wise, and people need to rethink about their participation in those kinds of efforts,” he said.

Parent said the COVID recession is “absolutely” going to take a toll on the City’s revenues. He said in La Mesa, they are lucky that it has some substantial operating reserves available to help “cushion the blow,” but depending on how long the pandemic last, the City is going to have to look at ways to cut costs and become more efficient.

“If we have to make those choices my priorities will be maintaining public safety which I think is job number one for local governments,” he said. “Secondly, we need to make sure we have all the tools in place to help in our economic recovery. We do not want to cut our planning and developing budget so tight that someone can not open a new business that will generate jobs and tax revenue. Pubic safety and revitalizing our economy have to be our top priorities.”