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San Clemente Times
Leading up to the San Clemente City Council election on Nov. 6, the San Clemente Times is publishing six questions, one each week, that we’ve asked each individual who qualified for the ballot to answer. Be sure to look for next week’s edition when we publish the second list of question. The list of candidates is published in the order of the random alphabet the California Secretary of State recently drew.
Week 3: What is the biggest change you’d like to make to San Clemente and why? How would you accomplish this goal?
Gene W. James
With a majority of ethical councilmembers, we need to consider the replacement of the city manager and assistant city manager and merge the positions into one job with savings of $350,000 annually. Additionally, a review of the city attorney’s role needs to take place; the role of the city attorney should be to avoid litigation at all cost, but when the city attorney is a partner in the firm that benefits from city litigation, that is nothing short of a blatant conflict of interest. If a councilmember were truly a steward of taxpayer dollars, that councilmember would be appalled.
My vision for the future of San Clemente is a community where we can live, work and play. Where my neighbors have a high quality of life. The biggest change we can make is to put a focus on affordable housing so that young couples starting their lives can afford to buy a home here. I would strive to develop a prosperous local business community so that small business owners thrive and contribute to our economy. Taking care of our most treasured resources, our ocean and beaches, is paramount to providing recreational opportunities for generations to come.
A change in San Clemente that I think would benefit our community as a whole, would be getting big money out of local politics. I think if we reform the election process, better ideas would win and not those who can fundraise the most. I would champion policies like term limits to promote a healthy Democracy and contribution caps on how much an individual could give to a candidate. Whether it’s the environment, toll roads or even city construction, having a City Council accountable to the people and not donors would create the most effective change in our community.
Tiffany Joy Robson Leet
My stance is to preserve San Clemente, to limit any drastic change to our long-established small town/small business, friendly and traditional California beach town heritage. I’d like to see the empowerment of the average citizen’s voice. I felt I had no idea what was going on in terms of the unwelcome changes to our city, i.e.: large building projects, obstruction of ocean views, deviation from the concepts of Ole Hansen. I want to bring our city into the future, committed to maintaining our own personality. I oppose the influx of big-brand corporate business and support our local small businesses and entrepreneurs.
I would propose implementing a sunshine ordinance because our city is not transparent and sometimes operates in secrecy. An open government is fundamental to democracy. A task force could ensure that deliberations of Council and commissions are conducted before the people and that public documents are open to review and accessible online. Prior to the current management, 20 years of public records were accessible on the city website—this was reduced to two years. Now, public records requests have increased, consuming staff time (and city attorney time) and money because our city wants to control what information the public receives.
San Clemente is grossly underserved when it comes to emergency medical services. There is currently a lawsuit under submission regarding the zoning requirements for a hospital with emergency services in San Clemente, but a decision in our favor would not grant us a new hospital. I believe that San Clemente is in a strong position to receive funding under a congressional bill that establishes a fund to compensate communities burdened with stranded nuclear waste, and in our case it could pay up to $24 million. I would fight to allocate these funds to establish a hospital with emergency medical services.
First and foremost, San Clemente is one of the greatest cities in the world. Hospital: San Clemente must have an emergency room to save lives. I will continue to work with hospital providers to come to our city. Spent nuclear fuel: I have worked toward a solution to move the fuel and voted to engage a federal lobbyist to represent San Clemente’s interests. I support publicly accessible, independent radiation monitoring. Schools : I have worked with the school district and support group and I will promote new facilities at our high school and renovations to all our schools. #onetownoneteam.
San Clemente has a rich heritage, incredible climate, proximity to two major cities and dozens of top-tier universities nearby. This creates a powerful opportunity for small-business development and entrepreneurship. Fueling this small business economic development initiative would allow our city to create sustainable jobs, revenue and a thriving entrepreneur culture without diminishing the quality of life that we treasure. As a Councilmember, I will look to convert a city position dedicated to igniting small-business growth and identify areas (North Beach, etc.) that could be designated as revitalization zones to support this exciting addition to San Clemente culture.
As your Councilmember, I will do whatever it takes to protect and preserve the small-town charm that brought us all to San Clemente. I love this town—its people, the families, businesses, restaurants, beaches, trails and open space that make it the best beach town in California. It is crucial we do everything in our power to make sure that out-of-town interests don’t turn San Clemente into a carbon copy of the overdeveloped beach towns to our north.
To facilitate much better communication between the city departments/employees/councilmembers to residents, phone calls, e-mails, public record requests, written correspondence need to be answered promptly for residents. Respect shown from the dais to the residents and from the public to the Councilmembers during public comments. Publicly personal, mean, hateful slamming during the election season and throughout the year needs to stop. Those who are doing it need to be held accountable. All of us need to understand nothing is accomplished unless we act as mature adults. I would accomplish this by setting an example and urging others to do the same..
San Clemente is a great place to live. I’d like to prioritize our budget for more public safety resources. Our deputy staffing is at historically low levels and our deputies are handling (per capita) the highest level of calls for assistance of any city in Orange County. We need to devote more resources to our police services. Also, the city should take a more active role in lobbying our state and federal representatives to find permanent solutions regarding the storage of radioactive waste at SONGS. The nuclear waste needs to be moved away from our community as soon as possible.
Attitude! I want to encourage all various community stakeholders to communicate and work together, an expansion of “One Town, One Team” football theme. We are all “Team San Clemente.” I would ensure sensibly managed development based on our recently approved General Plan, moving forward with a balanced respect for neighborhoods and businesses. My eight years experience on the Planning Commission, five years Coastal Advisory Committee, two Traffic Task Forces, one Safety Task Force have prepared me well. Additionally, my involvement with the Boys & Girls Club and Exchange Club boards have provided invaluable community experience.
Editor’s note: Ed Ward and Kathy Ward are not related