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  Commentary October 16th, 2008

The Editor 

A Tale of Two Cities

San Marcos and Escondido, two neighborly cities, sitting side by side, are but two of the North County cities having an election on November 4th.

In San Marcos, we have two incumbents; long time councilmember Hal Martin and appointee Rebecca Jones. Challenging for the seat is Dean Nelson. While Jones has the support of Hal Martin and of Mayor Jim Desmond, we think the voters will elect Dean Nelson. Why? He has served on the planning commission for eight years, ran a very close race for council last time out. Several weeks ago we sent questionaires to all candidates. Nelson returned his. Neither Martin nor Jones returned theirs.

Several comments Nelson made on his questionaire made us think he’s got a good handle on the mood of the community, and the experience and training to do something about it. We see it Hal Martin and Dean Nelson being elected in San Marcos.

In Escondido, Sam Abed and Ed Gallo are the incumbents. They are being challenged by Olga Diaz, Richard Barron, Chuck Voelker and Dennis French. Only Diaz and Abed failed to return the questionaire.

While we think both Sam Abed and Ed Gallo will be returned to office, we note that Olga Diaz has raised a great deal of money in this, her second try at a council seat. She also has garnered some major endorsements. It could well be an interesting race.

Several thought provoking comments from the questionaires of candidates.

Ed Gallo had several interesting thoughts: “Since 1990 I have served on the Downtown Revitalization Committee, Transportation Commission and Vehicle Parking District, Planning Commission and currently eight years on the City Council gives me the most broad perspective of Escondido's past, present and future. I believe it is critically important to know where you have been that helps shape the thinking on where you want to and should go. My campaign motto since 2000 is 'Escondido First' and every decision I make is for the benefit of the entire city. Public safety has always been my top priority. I want to provide the best equipped and best trained police and fire departments that will deliver the services we deserve. And we must enforce the laws that provide for our safety. The city's responsibility is also to provide a clean environment free of debris, rundown homes and buildings which are not only a nuisance but a safety hazard. Illegal immigration was a huge issue in Escondido. Due to lax code enforcement Escondido became the halfway house for illegals stopping here temporarily until they relocated to other areas for jobs. But many stayed here permanently creating an overcrowding issue which lead to health and safety concerns along with the inherent social ills that accompany such living conditions. We passed a school bond about five years ago to build another elementary school two blocks from Pioneer Elementary. Why? Because when I checked, the school district office told me their records indicate 2 and 3 families per residence. This in an area where no new housing had been built in over 10 years.”

Richard Barron, said: The General Plan and Prop S both need to be rewritten. The City Council has to gain the trust of the people that they will not violate the intent of the General Plan. It is also unreasonable to expect that a developer will go to the trouble and expense of an election for a development.

He also proposes: Clean up all the out of date parking and zoning ordinances in the downtown area; build two multi story parking garages, one on 2nd street and one on lot 1 for free parking; build two three story office towers on the H Johnson site for premium office spaces, under ground parking, first floor retail two floors of office, with a courtyard between the two buildings.

Attract anchor tenants to downtown stores, and convert East and West Grand to pedestrian promenades with trees, benches, fountains and expanded outdoor restaurant space. (keep the north/ south streets open).

Interesting ideas, all. Chuck Voelker is a fresh new face, and a young man with lots of energy and a positive attitude. He suggests, among other things: Calling for the repeal of Prop S, feeling the brakes have been put on intelligent development by making it so complex developers will no longer even consider Escondido as a place to build, residential or commercial. He also says he would lobby for a local Border Patrol office as he feels illegal immigration is one of the major problems facing Escondido. Voelker is young, has a name recognition problem, being new to the political arena, but we hope he continues his quest as we think he may have a future.

Same for Dennis French. He’s a young man, new to the political arena, well intentioned, but with very little name recognition and very little political experience.

We are pleased that we have had such an excellent turnout of top people from the community to run for council.

In San Marcos, we have endorsed Hal Martin and Dean Nelson.

In Escondido, we have endorsed Sam Abed and Ed Gallo.

We shall see on November 4th if the public agrees with our recommendations.





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