A Lemon Grove native, Liana LeBaron is a military wife, mother and currently a Lemon Grove planning commissioner. She said she is running for city council because the city needs responsible leadership now more than ever due to its financial status and that it needs people “willing to step up to the plate, roll up their sleeves and do the hard work to lead Lemon Grove through the tough situation that it is in now.”
“I’m no party preference, it is a nonpartisan race, so I don’t want to focus on my self-party preference,” she said.
LeBaron said she is a person of action and wants to be part of the solution and process for a positive change.
“It is not going to be just anybody that can lead us through financial success,” she said. “It has to be somebody with a lot of drive, a lot of passion and total dedication. I think that I have all of those things.”
LeBaron said disincorporation is a big unknown and to her knowledge the current council has not explored the “emotional” process.
“I think that it is something that is pulling the community, including myself, in different directions,” she said. “But what I strongly believe is that Lemon Grove has a lot of potential. People in Lemon Grove are strong-willed and hard-working and they want a clean, safe, financially stable city that provides local services.”
LeBaron said it is up to the people and that she is in support of anything that will benefit the people and is willing to work with colleagues to research all options available to benefit the people.
She said the city is facing severe financial problems with around 78% of its budget going to salaries and pensions, leaving little money for services, having to dip into its reserves to a pay its bills. She said all options needed exploring that provides services to the taxpayer in the most cost-effective way, taking action and looking at all of the city’s contracts and obligations.
LeBaron said the business community needs strengthening and is crucial to the success of the city. She plans on holding several meetings with business owners, leasing agents and their brokers, and conducting surveys to “capture business owner’s input.” She said once council know exactly what current issues are, then a plan can be made an implemented.
“It could be something as simple as fast-tracking the city’s permit system or any other tools that the city can provide to the businesses to be successful.,” she said.
LeBaron said with the COVID-19 pandemic, safety is a priority. She said every city is impacted by COVID straight across the board and Lemon Grove is no exception.
“Local businesses are experiencing a dramatic drop in sales. Our families are feeling the pain as well,” she said. “As the co-host of a popular podcast ‘Shine on Lemon Grove,’ my host and I Greg Shibley make it a big point to always support local community by advertising local information, like the COVID relief grants that the City is offering. The city is hosting a weekly neighborhood food bank, something I volunteer every week, to serve families in need.”
The food bank is sponsored by the City through CARES Act funding and coordinated in partnership with the Lemon Grove Lions Club, which LeBaron is a two-term board member. She said as planning commissioner she goes around town, and is open to any programs that the state, county, city or any organization have to offer for COVID-19 relief.
LeBaron said the city’s cleanliness is one of her big priorities.
“The city is really dirty and there is a lot of trash downtown and around town,” she said. “One of the first thing people see is our downtown when you hop off the freeway. It does not represent the heart, or the soul of Lemon Grove’s small town meets urban appeal. That poses a challenge to attracting people to walk, shop and dine.”
LeBaron said her family, instead of complaining, they purchased trash tongs and began cleaning up the streets on their daily walks. With the Lions, she started a community trash pick-up which is still going on. LeBaron spoke before the city council asking them to place a community trash campaign on the agenda last year, but that council dismissed her, and it has yet to be discussed or placed on the agenda.
“As a council member you have the influence and authority to agenda things and when you do that you are showing your support in prioritizing these issues,” she said. “Community concerns should be prioritized. I’d also like to take the issue further by discussing the overall cleanliness of the city at our annual Council goal setting workshop.”
“You have an idea and all great things are done in a group effort,” LeBaron continued. “Not just alone, you have to inspire others and fire up others to get involved. I’m a firm believer in leading by example. I started out to become part of the solution.”