The Race for City Council

Leading up to the San Clemente City Council General Election on Nov. 3, the San Clemente Times has published a series of questions that we’ve asked each candidate who is running for the two four-year seats. Here we present their responses to the third and final question. The list of candidates is published according to the random alphabet the California Secretary of State recently drew.

*Incumbent

Question 3:

What do you believe police services in San Clemente should look like?

Bill Hart

Bill Hart

The OC Sheriff’s Department provides more resources and better presence at lower cost than a local police department. However, we need to improve a few things. My action plan:

  1. Continue to add more deputies;
  2. Have Code Enforcement and Park Rangers enforce minor ordinance violations;
  3. Perform deputy workload assessments regularly;
  4. Fix the “us vs. them” mentality at city hall. Our police chief needs to be treated as a member of the city team;
  5. Bring back the OCSD Citizens Academy to educate the public on OCSD;
  6. Encourage citizens to organize a local foundation to support our Police Services.
Jeff Provance Jr.

Jeff Provance Jr.

First, I would like to say thank you to OCSD. You ladies and gentlemen work hard to keep San Clemente safe, and I appreciate everything OCSD does for SC. OCSD provides us with invaluable resources, as seen last month with the protest. I would like to see us strengthen our bond with the sheriff’s department and Sheriff Don Barnes. Work together for a safer community for all of us to live in. I would like to see officers who are assigned to SC engage with our citizens, our community. We need to work together as one town, one team, one heartbeat. 

Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

As a former U.S. Army Ranger, protection of country and community is ingrained in me. While peaceful assembly and protest is well-founded under our Constitution, lawlessness has no place and must be dealt with swiftly and comprehensively—there is no rationalization that supports rioting. Considering this point, I believe OCSD has done a tremendous job in protecting our city. There are areas where we can further enhance our protective services. We need to pass smart ordinances to increase their capacity. Further, adding more deputies makes sense, especially deputies specially trained to work with our transient population.       

Patrick Minnehan

Patrick Minnehan

Our relationship with OCSD is fairly robust as it stands today. Fifty-three deputies assigned to San Clemente with varying specialties to protect and serve our community. As additional deputies are needed, OCSD has the resources to pivot and flex accordingly. City leadership must listen to our citizens and to our contracted agencies. Where gaps are identified or enhancements are necessary, solutions need to be developed, presented, discussed, agreed to and acted upon. City leadership must hold all accountable and communicate actions taken effectively and compassionately.

Chris Duncan

Chris Duncan

The tragic death of Kurt Reinhold, a Black, homeless resident and father of two, serves as a wakeup call for our city. As a former prosecutor, I have tremendous respect for law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they make every day, and that is why I want to see the Orange County Sheriff’s Department take meaningful steps to prevent occurrences like these in the future. My plan, which I have discussed with Sheriff Barnes, involves augmenting the Psychiatric Emergency and Response Team (PERT) so mental health clinicians primarily engage with homeless individuals, allowing deputies to focus on criminal activity.

Joseph Kenney

Joseph Kenney

Law and order is paramount for any society to function properly. Every citizen deserves equal justice under the law. To achieve this, contrary to the popular media narrative to defund the police, we should, in fact, increase funding to police services. Increased funding can go towards better de-escalation training, and higher pay would make the job more desirable and competitive, leading to higher quality candidates. It would also be helpful to fund more events where the community can interact with local police and allow them to get to know the city’s citizens better, thereby reducing fear and stress all around. 

Aaron Washington

Aaron Washington

Public safety is a priority. We have struggled with securing more funding for OCSD and need to audit legal-related spending to free up more. I would also review the option to implement a police substation at North Beach, given the history of homeless issues. I am told we have provided e-bikes to officers to patrol areas like North Beach, the Pier Bowl, Del Mar and El Camino Real. However, we need to extend the e-bike patrol annually and not just during the summer. We must support our police with a secured minimum manning budget to always ensure the safety of residents.

Jeff Wellman

Jeff Wellman

San Clemente is currently contracted with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for police services. OCSD provides patrol services that include over 40 department personnel dedicated to San Clemente’s care and safety. OCSD has provided first-class service to the citizens of San Clemente. I believe the city of San Clemente is well served by the current contract and should remain with OCSD for the near future. I want to publicly thank the deputies and support staff from OCSD that serve San Clemente daily and put their lives on the line to keep our community and families safe. I am pro law enforcement!

Gene James

Gene James*

Our citizens and law enforcement officers are facing formidable challenges in these unprecedented times. As your councilmember,I have been, and will continue to be, committed to law and order. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, with their professional law enforcement officers and experienced leadership, are dedicated to serve everyone within our town. OCSD possesses vast resources that provide the absolute best options in keeping our neighborhoods, our families, and our businesses safe and secure. I will continue to have the backs of the great deputies who protect and serve this wonderful city. Your safety and security are my paramount concern.

Thor Johnson

Thor Johnson

I’m disappointed in the death of Mr. Reinhold. My vision for our police department is to reflect the culture, desires and goals of our community. Addressing property theft and homelessness encroachment are some of our community’s most urgent needs. As your councilman, I will strengthen our Neighborhood Watch, Citizen’s Patrol, R.S.V.P. and Ride-Along programs, and implement proactive programs to prevent crime, including Citizen’s Police Academy and Neighborhood Policing, to identify repeat offenders. For quality-of-life issues, I will hire a mental health clinician, an expert, to assist deputies, and help identify an individual’s type of mental health issue and needs. 

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