By Janis Russell
October 1, 2016 (Santee) - The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with other Chambers in East County, put on Politics in Paradise Part 2 at BNS Brewery in Santee 2 days ago. This was a continuation of Politics in Paradise in July. Again this year, the public got to mix and mingle with the local candidates. Near the end of the night, candidates gave a 15-30 second speech about why they were running.
Bob Ayres, who is up for re-election for the Grossmont Healthcare District, told ECM, “We have several projects that are underway… It’s very important to see the projects through.” He also emphasized the importance of getting the projects done before the deadline. Ayres would also like to see that the unmet health needs of the community are met.
ECM also spoke with Keith Hildreth, current Lakeside school board president, on why he was running for re-election. Hildreth was proud of the success of the Spanish immersion and Mandarin Chinese program. He wanted to continue to expand on what they’ve been doing.
Stephen Houlahan, Santee city council candidate, and John Minto, current Santee city councilmember and Santee Mayoral candidate, were unable to attend. Minto was at a funeral.
Barry Jantz, CEO of Grossmont Healthcare District, was the MC. The candidates then gave their speeches.
Randy Voepel, who has been Mayor of Santee, is running for the 71st Assembly. He felt people should vote for him since he has the experience and has been Mayor for 16 years. (His website is: http://www.randyvoepel.org/. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/randyvoepel/.)
George Glover, El Cajon City Council candidate, brought up the recent El Cajon police incident. He expressed his appreciation for all the El Cajon Police Department, with Police Chief Jeff Davis, have been doing. He is currently on the veterans committee and the East County Chamber Veterans Commission round table.
Stephanie Harper, El Cajon City Council candidate, said, “I’m just about the people.” (Her website is: http://www.votesharper2016.com/. Her Facebook page is: http://votesharper2016.com/#!about/facebook.)
Steve Goble, El Cajon City Council candidate, agreed with Glover’s comments about the El Cajon Police Department. He is endorsed by them. (His website is: http://www.gobleforcouncil.com/.)
Steve Robak, Lakeside Water District candidate, joked, “I’m the only candidate who’s 6 foot 3 tall. I have such a humor that none of [the other candidates] have.”
Twila Godley, who is up for re-election with Lakeside school board, said, “We have a wonderful district with lots of programs [and] a fantastic arts program.” She was also proud of the Spanish immersion and Mandarin Chinese programs.
Hildreth spoke next. “[Lakeside] is a wonderful district to have your children in… We are one of the districts that never cut the arts.”
Dustin Trotter, Santee City Council candidate, was proud of the fact that he’s the only business owner that’s running. (His website is: http://www.dustintrotter92071.com/home.html. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/Dustin-Trotter-for-Santee-City-Council-2016-130586157283176/.)
Mason Herron, who’s running for Santee City Council, said, “Santee is a very family friendly place… Public safety is key…” (His website is: http://masonherron.org/. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/MasonHerronSantee/?fref=ts.)
Jim Woodhead, a friend of Minto, spoke in Minto’s place. “John really wanted to be here tonight… He has the most experience of the candidates.” (His website is: http://johnminto.com/. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Minto-for-Santee-City-Council-2010/130394690330352.)
Rob McNelis, current Santee city councilmember and Santee mayoral candidate, said, “If you want a candidate that’s business friendly, that’s me… I am very much Santee proud.” His goal is to have a community, where his kids would want to come back so they in turn can raise their kids. (His website is: http://www.electrobmcnelis.com/. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/MayorMcNelis/.)
Mark Robak, who’s running for re-election for Otay Water District, mentioned that water rates have increased. “Water rates are the biggest thing in voters’ minds…” He would like those rates to decrease, and that can happen by “controlling costs and consolidating water districts.” (His website is: http://fairoaks8.wixsite.com/otaymark. His Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/OtayMark.)
Mark Gracyk, who’s running for Helix Water District #3, said, “Let’s keep those [water] rates low.” (His website is: http://mark4hwd.org/.)
Ayres said, “Your Grossmont hospital is a treasure to this community… [We still have] unmet needs…”
Michael Emerson, who is up for re-election for Grossmont Healthcare District mentioned about a walk for Alzheimers he’s participating in in Balboa Park on October 15. He also mentioned about Kids Care Fest, and a marijuana forum that talks about what happens when adolescents smoke marijuana. (Learn more about the walk at: https://www.raceplace.com/events/1650/walk4alz-balboa-park. More information about Kids Care Fest can be found at: http://kidscarefest.org/.) The marijuana forum will be Monday October 10, 5:30-8pm, at the Grossmont Healthcare District Conference Center, 9001 Wakarusa St in La Mesa. It is put on by the Live Well San Diego East Leadership Team.
Michael Peddecord, who is with the California People of Faith, addressed Prop 62. “It will save us $150 million a year in taxpayers’ money… If you support Prop 62, you need to say no to Prop 66…” According to a Yes on 62 sheet, Prop 62, also known as the Justice That Works Act of 2016, is a statewide initiative to replace California’s death penalty with life in prison without parole…[It guarantees that] the worst criminals will never be released and requires convicted murderers to work and pay restitution to their victims’ families. Prop 66 keeps the death penalty in place and changes death penalty procedures to speed up the appeals process. (https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_66,_Death_Penalty_Procedures_(2016).) (Learn more about the California People of Faith at: http://californiapeopleoffaith.org/.). He later told ECM that murder rates in California have lowered. He agreed that “we have a good legal system” and he’s ok with the sentence of life in prison. But “we don’t want to execute innocent people” and he was “concerned about speeding up the [appeals] process.”
Jo Marie Diamond of the East County Economic Development Council, talked about an upcoming event the Economic Development Council will put on. “As part of manufacturing week, we will have a manufacturing expo and fair… [It’s] free to attend... free to display… Bring your kids…” It will be on October 4. For more information about the expo and fair, visit: http://eastcountyedc.org/event/manufacturing-resource-fair-expo/?instance_id=2535.)
Virginia Hall, who’s running for Grossmont Healthcare District, was the last to speak. “I’m Santee Chamber chairperson this year… A lot of people know me as a realtor and business person.” Before that, she was in the healthcare field. (Visit her website: http://virginiahallforgrossmonthealthcare.com/. Her Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/VirginiaHallGrossmontHeathcareDistrict/?ref=py_c.)
To find out more about upcoming Chamber events, visit: http://eastcountychamber.org/.