By Jonathan Goetz
December 16, 2016 (El Cajon) – East County Magazine sat down with new Councilman Steve Goble, who share his views on the most important issues facing El Cajon, his budget priorities, background, and thoughts on pressing problems such as homelessness, the refugee crisis, the East County Performing Arts Center and marijuana regulation.
What is your background?
As a three time, successful small business owner, I understand how to lead an organization. From understanding financial statements to building a productive team, I enjoy bringing people together and making good things happen. My leadership has been tested and trusted in community organizations including the Make a Wish Foundation, The Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Greenfield PTA, and Partnerships with Industry, a non-profit organization helping adults with developmental disabilities.
What do you believe are the most important issues in El Cajon and how will you strive to address those issues?
I see firsthand and hear from numerous residents that the homeless issue needs to be addressed. We need to get as much of the $20 million the County allocated this year so we can strive to help those with substance addiction, mental health issues, PTSD and even those temporarily on the street due to loss of a job.
Another important issue is rising crime. When the state, through AB109, transferred convicted felons back to county jails, and then some were released due to overcrowding and because their offenses were non-violent, such as drug offenses, many of these are now on the street. In addition, when Prop 47 changed many drug offenses (went) from felonies to misdemeanors, those selling drugs now know they’ll get a ticket instead of going to jail. Those two factors have contributed to increased crime in the city…
What are your budget priorities? Other priorities?
My priority in the budget is public safety for all citizens…It’s government’s responsibility to protect the citizens, and the citizens’ rights… Crime affects the quality of life and the attractiveness for business… looking how to increase response times on fire/medical emergency calls; to improve our neighborhoods, keeping roads in good condition, getting rid of graffiti quickly; streamlining regulations to grow and attract business, invest in kids and seniors through arts and recreational programs; and ensuring sound, fiscal responsibility…
East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC)
The arts are not only a bridge-builder across cultures, but also across generations. ECPAC is a tool which can help. While I support re-opening ECPAC, it must be done in a way that isn’t a drain on general fund resources which are sorely needed elsewhere. However, perhaps there are opportunities to partner with other venues for larger events they can’t hold on their own properties, or with the school districts who might want a central complex for cost savings instead of the expense of building one on each campus.
El Cajon has the highest poverty rate in the county and also a high number of immigrants from the Middle East, Mexico, etc. What are your ideas to reduce poverty, attract employers that offer good paying jobs, and help immigrants work toward a decent quality of life?
I believe the way up is through education and skill training. I don’t think the federal government has set up our refugee population to succeed. In the 70’s, the Vietnamese refugees got 36 months of federal assistance, but today’s refugees get 9 months, just 25% of the prior amount.
If that’s not bad enough, if a refugee moves from Detroit to El Cajon, for example, the federal assistance does not follow them here. So if they move here after just four months, they no longer get federal assistance. How are we helping them assimilate if we’re not setting them up for success with the tools for language training, education, job training, and more? We need to hold our national leaders accountable and demand more if they’re going to land refugees in EL Cajon.
As far as attracting jobs, good-paying jobs, the less the government has its hand in the business owner’s pocket, the more he or she has to start, grow and expand a business. Many new businesses are because an individual or a family risks to start, grow and expand a business. Many new businesses are because an individual or a family risked an investment to create jobs, and provide a service or a product. They need every cent they can get to hire more workers, invest in better equipment, and advertise their business. Let’s say that kind of risk is welcome in El Cajon by rewarding them with reduced regulations.
What is your vision to help get the homeless off the streets?
This fiscal year, the County has allocated $20 million to help get homeless people into drug treatment programs, mental health programs, temporary shelters, veteran assistance facilities, and more. Next year is $28 million. These funds, for example, will pay for a counselor to accompany police in making contact with homeless to see if they want assistance.
Already I’ve heard of a family of four finding shelter because the father was a veteran and qualified because of that. I heard of an individual who wanted help with an addiction, and he’s now off the street into a treatment facility. Many homeless people are ready to accept help; they just don’t know where to go.
As Councilmember, would you typically vote for, or against, Conditional Use Permits for medical marijuana dispensaries?
I don’t believe it’s good for the people of El Cajon to have any marijuana dispensaries in the city.
Do you support a police force that (demographically) reflects the community it serves?
My understanding is that the police department is having a hard time finding (minority) applicants. They used to receive 400 applicants per year and now that number is closer to 300. Perhaps people’s views towards police are negative, and that’s unfortunate because we need more police officers in El Cajon.