The Race for City Council

Leading up to the San Clemente City Council General Election on Nov. 3, the San Clemente Times is publishing three questions, one every two weeks, that we’ve asked each candidate who is running for the two four-year seats. Next week, we’ll publish responses from the Special Election candidates. The list of candidates is published according to the random alphabet the California Secretary of State recently drew.

*Incumbent

Question 2:

As a member of the San Clemente City Council, what will be your top priority on the dais? What initiative or policy do you hope to achieve as an elected official, and what will be your first step in working toward that goal?

Bill Hart

Bill Hart

Treat the heart attack first, then cure the patient. We have three urgent priorities. The first is to help our local businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis. The city must “just say yes” when business owners tell us what they need. Second, watch our budget. Keep spending in check and closely watch property tax, sales tax and transient occupancy tax revenues. Third, council must replace rancor and disagreement with civility and cooperation so we can recruit a top-quality city manager. Having chaired hundreds of city meetings, I can proudly point to my track record of teamwork, respect and fair-minded leadership.

Jeff Provance Jr.

Jeff Provance Jr.

My top priority, if elected, will be to bring leadership and accountability to our currently fractured council. Finding a city manager who will complement our city with experience and passion will be priority. We need to be whole before we can move forward. I will listen to the people and fight for the best interest of our city—not what is best for individuals on the council. Our current council has forgotten that we are elected for and by the citizens of this great city. My door is always open, and I will be there for the people of SC.

Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

My main objective is improved management of the city’s financial standing/business environment. 

  1. Hire a city manager focused on revenue enhancement (without raising taxes) and expense discipline (excluding public safety budget).
  2. Meaningfully increase business patronage and corresponding sales.  Ideas: beautifying our retail/restaurant areas to create experiences for customers, establishing more special events, attracting strong businesses, and creating aspirational branding for the city. 
  3. Address pension liabilities. 
  4. Enhance collaboration with city’s financial services and treasurer, especially with fund’s asset management services. 
  5. Maintain AAA credit rating.
  6. Minimize consulting and legal fees.
Patrick Minnehan

Patrick Minnehan

  • Develop proactive and positive working relationship with all city councilmembers and city leadership.
  • Deeper dive into the budget with city leadership. Understand current liabilities, how the liabilities developed, understand opportunities to improve budget gaps, review/improve accountability and the respective action plans.
  • Review of current projects in progress, staff recommendations and status. Develop an understanding of how current policies along with the General Plan are assisting or hindering progress and opportunities to take action to improve those policies.
  • Communicate and celebrate successes with our community.
Chris Duncan

Chris Duncan

Our top priority has to be bringing our community together so we emerge from this pandemic stronger and more unified than before. To this end, I will launch a Gateway Beautification Initiative to:

  1. Clean up our beaches and parks;
  2. Widen and repair roads and sidewalks, re-landscape medians and open spaces, and develop empty lots; and
  3. Improve signage at freeway exits and other entry points.

These infrastructure improvements will reinforce pride in our Spanish Village by the Sea, raise our property values, and attract increased economic activity for our local businesses, which will more than offset costs.

Joseph Kenney

Joseph Kenney

My top priority is to bring transparency and integrity to the city council. As a lifelong San Clemente resident, my No. 1 goal is to keep San Clemente from losing its identity. Progress is inevitable, but it needs to be done keeping local businesses front and center. What we don’t need is another professional bureaucrat sent here to mole their way into city council to sell us out to the highest bidder, trying to turn San Clemente into Los Angeles. I will make common sense decisions that serve the real people of San Clemente, because I am one of you.

Aaron Washington

Aaron Washington

I seek to make San Clemente the safest and greatest city in Orange County. We need to reclaim our public facilities, parks and water features for our children. I will work with the city manager on the city’s budget that will help us obtain this objective. I will streamline and reduce costs for homeowners and small businesses. To make this city great, I will be available to the public for meetings, phone calls, and will offer regular office hours. I will always make myself available.

Jeff Wellman

Jeff Wellman

My top priority is to ensure San Clemente remains a safe and family-friendly Spanish Village by the Sea. I will achieve this priority, in part, by making sure we stop the toll road from entering our town. This also includes making the legal language clear in order to preclude the other various pathways still being explored by the TCA. In line with my top priority of maintaining a family-friendly community, we need to create more indoor/outdoor places for San Clemente families to gather and socialize. I envision a recreation area mixed with local restaurants and local shops.

Gene James

Gene James*

A safer, stronger San Clemente. Those were my marching orders by those who elected me to city council. I’m working hard to keep that promise. My first task, keeping San Clemente safe and secure so we live in peace. Next, having the backs of our deputies, providing the resources they need. A state-of-the-art police station and a push for more deputies. Keeping criminals out and crime down. Keeping business alive, streamline permits, attract new enterprise and continue outside dining. Finally, stop the Toll Road, address the homeless crisis regionally and work together for fiscally responsible solutions.

Thor Johnson

Thor Johnson

My top priority is protecting the natural rights and enhancing the quality of life for all citizens and businesses of San Clemente. My initial focus will be on keeping our beaches, trails, parks and businesses safely open. I will introduce legislation to become city ordinance guaranteeing these rights. I will seek to hire a skilled and responsive city manager who will help us successfully coordinate our reopening efforts, improve our economic outlook, and give the level of service our community deserves. I will work with our residents to keep San Clemente as the vibrant, thriving community we all enjoy.

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