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With the race for three open seats on the San Clemente City Council approaching, the San Clemente Times has posed a series of four questions to all 12 candidates. Over next few weeks, we will publish their responses—one per week—to give readers more insight before casting their votes by Nov. 8. The list of candidates is published according to the random alphabet drawn by the California Secretary of State.
Question 1: Introduce yourself to voters. What’s your general background, and what experience do you bring to the table? What’s your platform and what issues are important to you?
My name is Donna Vidrine, and I’ve lived in San Clemente with my husband, Warren, for more than 20 years. We love this community.
My professional and leadership skills have been built as an Air Force captain, nurse/health care professional and nursing administrator. I’m a small business owner and understand the importance of the businesses and workers to the success of our local economy.
The health and protection of our coastline is also a key economic driver for San Clemente. We must ensure that our policies and priorities support clean air, clean water and a sustainable environment.
I routinely attend City Council meetings to share my views on matters of health and safety, including ensuring San Clemente has local access to hospital services after the closure of MemorialCare.
Based on the city-commissioned survey, eight out of 10 residents agree. We must also address the challenge of homelessness. Too often, addressing homelessness is seen as just another law enforcement issue.
The county clearly needs to do more, but for the health and safety of our city, we should develop a more comprehensive approach that leverages public safety, addresses the need for mental health services, and strengthens partnerships among community organizations.
We achieve so much more working together. Beyond city issues, I serve on my Church Council, am active in the Garden Club, Rotary, Kiwanis and Elks and am a hospice volunteer.
One of my greatest strengths is my friendly, easy-going nature. I like people and will serve respectfully and transparently, in an accessible manner, because I genuinely care what our community thinks and will always welcome their input and involvement.
San Clemente is the best of what an American city has to offer—a safe place to live, raise our families, educate our children, practice our faith, build successful businesses, and enjoy our beautiful parks and beaches—and I want to work to preserve and protect it.
If elected, I’ll focus on local issues: public safety and security, supporting local business, and government and fiscal accountability, starting with finding the right person to serve as our next city manager.
My father, a barber, and mother—a hairdresser, social worker, and police department community advocate—taught me the value of hard work and community service. We didn’t have material wealth, but I was blessed to grow up in a loving home.
My wife and I instilled those same values in our four adult children (a schoolteacher, a nurse practitioner, a Homeland Security deputy chief, and a nuclear engineer/software architect), who have since blessed us with six wonderful grandchildren.
My parents also placed a premium on education and sacrificed to provide their children with an excellent Catholic elementary and high school education. I earned my undergraduate and law degrees from UC Davis, and an MPA from Harvard.
I built a successful law practice, worked as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, as counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and chief counsel at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.
Afterward, I worked in the private sector as vice president of public policy for Verizon, the legal department for GE’s NBCUniversal/Telemundo division, managing partner at Cabral Group (a consulting firm), and now as partner in Capital Energy Group, a solar energy company.
I am a genuine born and raised San Clemente native. I grew up playing and surfing at SC beaches, was the drum major of the SCHS marching band, and graduated there as a valedictorian.
I have a Master’s of Education from UCSB and a Master’s of Advanced Studies in International Affairs with an emphasis in Public Policy from UCSD. I graduated as a valedictorian and published a paper in the International Journal of Administration and Policy Research.
I have been a high school history teacher for the last 15 years, seven at SCHS. I am also heavily involved with my congregation at San Clemente Presbyterian Church, serving as an Elder from 2015-2018. I now have the privilege of raising my own family in this amazing town.
My hope is to serve the people of San Clemente by becoming a city councilmember. I will work toward San Clemente being safe, sane, and successful.
This means creating safe streets for our e-bike riders and making sure that our younger riders know the rules of the road, addressing homelessness together with our sister cities and nonprofits, and making sure that our sheriffs and firefighters are well-equipped and sufficiently staffed.
It also means that we need to connect our downtown to our residential areas by expanding the trolley system. This will help to address parking issues, reduce our carbon footprint, and make sure that our residents have easy access to our businesses.
These and other goals can only be achieved if we have a functional City Council that is focused on local issues, not national partisan politics. Our city works best when we work together.
My name is Martina McBurney-Wheeler, and I am humbly asking for your vote. I have lived in San Clemente since 2008, when I immigrated to the U.S. My husband’s family immigrated to San Clemente in the 1950s (Tiberi) and were longtime residents and business owners.
San Clemente has certainly changed in that time since, and it’s important to me to retain the small-town charm of this city while recognizing that growth is also inevitable.
I am the mother of two children in the district; for many years, I was a parent volunteer and/or room mom at Concordia and worked with our children, fellow parents and faculty for the betterment of the school and its programs. For the last few years, I have been continuing this work as a school district employee.
As a community activist, I have been a cofounder or a member of many grassroots movements from No Amazon SC to No Gas Station/Car Wash on La Pata. I have been an active and engaged citizen speaking before the dais on a variety of issues. I am not a single-issue voter or candidate.
Some of the major issues that need to be addressed:
- A need for a new city manager and legal services;
- Formulating a plan to pay down the unfunded pension liability;
- Introducing a Sunshine Ordinance;
- The addition of deputies designed for a community-based policing approach to law enforcement and public safety; and
- Working with the county to find a location outside of San Clemente to place a regional homeless shelter.
I’m a SoCal native who grew up in Irvine and spent most of my youth in Agoura Hills. I attended UCLA, where I studied Design and Media Arts.
Currently, I serve as Content Creation Manager at VIZIO, located in Irvine. Prior to this role, I was New Media Specialist at FilmLA, the regional Los Angeles nonprofit film office, where I worked directly with our contracted city clients.
While I’m still a relatively new resident to San Clemente, I have quickly immersed myself into this unique Spanish Village by the Sea culture. My past decade of living in Hollywood has been a sobering experience, in which I witnessed political ideologies unfortunately crumble in the wake of a pandemic, crime wave, environmental issues, and exorbitant home prices.
Having experienced these problems firsthand throughout L.A., San Clemente has become my personal paradise, and I’d like the city to maintain the welcoming comfort I’ve experienced upon my arrival.
As a hopeful councilmember, I’d ensure San Clemente remains a safe city, full of the richest culture that SoCal has to offer, all balanced with a sensible vision of the future that is attentive to the obstacles presented by climate change and demographic shifts.
Our beaches here are world-class, attracting surfers, marine life, and tourists from across the globe. As an avid free-diver, ocean sports enthusiast, and volunteer with Heal the Bay, it is my goal to keep San Clemente’s main attraction as pristine as possible.
I look forward to getting more involved with our community and meeting friendly fellow residents as my campaign gets underway. Check out my campaign website, shaneclemente.com, for ways to get involved.
Editor’s Note: This candidate did not respond to San Clemente Times’ requests to participate in the Q&A.
Editor’s Note: This candidate did not respond to San Clemente Times’ requests to participate in the Q&A.
I am Aaron Washington, a resident of San Clemente since January 2006. I love our city.
When I was runner-up in my campaign for City Council in 2020, I vowed that I would learn from that experience so that I am prepared to serve our city in the best possible way.
I was appointed to the San Clemente Beach, Park and Recreation/Coastal Advisory Commission and served for 11 months, and now serve on the Human Affairs Committee.
My 35 years of military service has equipped me with the leadership skills to work with diverse groups.
- Support Public Safety, including law enforcement and first responders;
- Preserve and support San Clemente small businesses;
- Work with my fellow councilmembers to improve our homelessness situation;
- Work with my fellow councilmembers to save our beaches and bluff erosions, including fighting for San Clemente by opposing Alternative 2 and the Dana Slide;
- Youth Safety, including prevention of drug and alcohol use, bullying, and providing mentoring options for our youth.
My name is Zhen Wu. I’m a husband, father, licensed architect, certified planner, local business owner, former planning commissioner, and 18-year resident of San Clemente.
I received my dual masters’ degree from USC School of Policy and School of Architecture, worked for a few Orange County companies, then started my own practice on land-use planning and architecture. I served on the San Clemente Planning Commission and Design Review Subcommittee for six years during 2015-2021.
My professional expertise on land-use planning, along with my knowledge on a wide range of city policies and projects, are what I can bring to the table. I will also use these skills to collaborate with council colleagues and county, state, and other regional stakeholders to find solutions to regional problems such as emergency homeless shelters, housing affordability, and transportation.
In addition, my service on the San Clemente Coastal Advisory Committee gave me a good understanding of our coastal issues, such as water quality, beach erosion, sand replenishment, and our Local Coastal Program.
Lastly, I have trained eyes on Spanish Colonial architectural style and urban forms. I have worked very hard on the Planning Commission to guide numerous developments to be compatible with our small town.
If keeping our Spanish Village by the Sea character is important to you, I am your candidate.
My platform includes:
- Keep our community safe and support law enforcement
- Financial sustainability and responsible spending
- Economic opportunity and small business support
- Keep our beaches clean and enjoyable
- Preserve our small-town character
- Address housing with local control
Please visit wuforsanclemente.org for more details.
Born and raised in Point Loma, San Diego, I studied Business Management at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Since 2013, I have been in the medical field, starting as a marketing director for a surgical center. Less than two years later, I cofounded an outpatient infusion clinic for IV antibiotics and injectables. In 2020, I opened our second clinic, serving thousands of patients and employing more than 50 staff.
One of my proudest achievements has been the development of the Together as One Foundation, a nonprofit I founded in 2014. To date, more than 500 San Clemente and Southern Californian children with autism have participated in our free leadership and life skills training, surf lessons, and trips to Knott’s Berry Farm and the North Shore of Oahu.
I’m running for City Council because I’m concerned with the ongoing increase of crime and homelessness encroachment in San Clemente and surrounding regions. Incidences that are familiar scenes in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego are occurring in San Clemente at an alarming increasing rate.
A recent shooting at a children’s park, homeless sleeping across the sidewalks on Del Mar, and transients defecating in public are completely unacceptable and not a representation of San Clemente’s values. I am determined to prevent our lovely community from becoming the next Los Angeles.
I will ensure our homeless outreach workers and deputies are fully funded and have the needed resources to keep the homeless and transients off our streets. I believe in a limited and more accountable government, lower taxes, and preserving San Clemente’s charm, tradition, and culture.
I would be honored to earn your vote.
I am a husband, married over 25 years with three daughters. My youngest daughter, a graduate of SCHS, studies nursing at Clemson. My other girls are married and are now raising their own families.
I earned my Construction Technology degree at Purdue University and spent most of my career as part of leadership in one of the largest privately owned engineering and construction companies in the world.
Today, I currently work as an industry strategist in the telecommunications industry, supporting the rollout of broadband infrastructure to bring both education and technology to everyone for the purpose of facilitating digital equity throughout America.
I enjoy public service and currently serve as treasurer on my HOA board of directors. The HOA encompasses more than 3,600 residences and where more than 10,000 San Clemente city residents call home. I consider myself to be fiscally astute and financially conservative
I am running for City Council; I want to serve the city, and promise not to promote a personal or campaign contributors’ agenda. I always ask the next best question. What makes sense? What are all the issues? What does the data mean? Is the data biased? Is it best for the city?
When I need help understanding something, I reach out. When people speak, I listen to learn. I do not listen for the purpose of awaiting a chance to speak.
To decompress, I walk our dog, and play chess. And to relax, my wife and I kayak in and around Dana Point Harbor on the weekends.
I am the father of four adult children and have 11 grandchildren. My wife and I chose to live in San Clemente many years ago because of the quality of life here in our wonderful beach town.
I am semi-retired from my career as a lawyer. The majority of my career was in the Title Insurance & Escrow business.
Over the years, I have volunteered my time and skills in service to local, county and state government. I have served on the Orange County Civic Center Commission, Assessment Appeals officer, APCD Hearing Board and was appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to the California Council on Criminal Justice.
My wife, Twyla, and I are active in our church, and I serve as a part-time Chaplain in the OC Jail system.
I currently am a member of the San Clemente City Council, where I advocate for strong law enforcement, lower taxes, transparency and oppose restrictions on our freedoms. I strongly oppose homeless encampments in public spaces.
I have vigorously advocated for San Clemente to partner in the development of a desalination plant at Doheny Beach. This desalination project will be capable of providing ample amounts of fresh, clean water to our residents for generations to come.