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By Miriam Raftery

October 5, 2018 (Alpine) – Nine candidates are running for seven seats on the Alpine Community Planning Group, including incumbents Glenda Archer, Louis Russo, James Easterling, Richard Saldano Jr. and George Barnett, as well as challengers Justin Johnston, a general contractor/entrepreneur, writer Mary Harris, retired school Superintendent Albert Haven and real estate attorney Jennifer Swanson.

It costs hundreds of dollars to submit a ballot statement to the Registrar of Voters, which can be prohibitive for some candidates, especially those running for all-volunteer positions on planning groups. Only four candidates submitted ballot statements to the Registrar (Barnett, Haven, Johnston,and Russo). A sixth, Mary Harris, sent her statement to East County Magazine and asked us to publish it. We’ve reached out to other candidates who left contact info with the Registrar and invited them to send theirs in, too. Jim Easterling replied by our deadline and his has been added below. Statements of those available are published below, in alphabetical order:


Planning group member and retired engineer

I seek reelection to the Alpine Community Planning Group. Residents since 1999, my wife, two of our sons and all of our grandkids live here. I serve as chairperson of the Public Facilities Subcommittee, helping to inform townspeople on the Alpine Community Plan; a Supervisor Dianne Jacob sponsored effort defining the future character

of Alpine. I am a member of the Parks & Recreation Subcommittee, working to bring additional parkland to Alpine, and to improving our schools’ playing fields.

I am a retired chemical engineer. My wife and I own just our personal residence. We have no business interests in Alpine.

I am a strong proponent of private property rights; work hard to support our schools, and I continue to strive for our own high school. I work to seek community input on issues that come before the Group. I am committed to maintaining Alpine’s Backcountry character.


Candidate for Alpine Planning Group

Candidate for Alpine Fire Protection Board 

Born and raised in East County, I am proud of my more than thirty-year residency in this beautiful Alpine Community.  Giving back to the community includes multiple years of service on the Alpine Fire Protection District Board and the Alpine Planning Group.  I have consistently made an effort to take in consideration all opinions in choosing what is best for Alpine, the community I call home.

Endorsed by the Alpine Firefighters for Alpine Fire Protection District Board

Endorsed by Residents of Alpine for Alpine Fire Protection District Board

Endorsed by Residents of Alpine for Alpine Planning Group



Alpine: A Unique and Beautiful Community

Alpine is a little gem in the foothills. As a member of this community, I have become increasingly concerned about what goes on in our town. I am now running for a seat on the Alpine Community Planning Group (ACPG). My name is Mary Harris. My first residency here was back in the seventy’s. This was before any development. There were no traffic lights, shopping centers, apartment buildings, or housing developments, with the exception of Palo Verde Ranch. We were truly a rural outpost.

 I raised my daughter, seeing her through her school years. I had the pleasure of witnessing her graduation from San Diego State University, where she earned her Master’s Degree. Afterwards, I entered into a new phase of my life; I began searching for ways to become more involved in my community. This led to volunteering my time for A Park 4 Alpine. My friend and I ‘parked’ ourselves in front of Ace Hardware. We engaged people in conversation and asked them to participate in a survey for A Park 4 Alpine. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of obtaining a park for our community. I learned that after roughly twenty years of effort, by individuals on the Parks and Trails subcommittee, to get a park built here for the entire community, they were not able to accomplish their worthy goal. This was not their fault. There were many factors that impeded their progress. I then discovered that the ACPG board member majority had essentially given up on the park. They voted to approve the transfer of the park money fund (the PLDO) to the Alpine Union School District, all $950,000, for the renovation of athletic fields at our middle school instead. This will empty our park fund.

I have a deep sentiment for our community. My desire is to see the rural feel of Alpine preserved, which is increasingly important as more development threatens our community. But many on the board are pro development. As well, the ACPG is in need of greater diversity. In order to create balanced representation that will address the needs and desires of all of us, differing age groups, women, and ethnicities need to feel welcomed.

 We choose to live in Alpine because of its peaceful, small town atmosphere. We don’t want to see Alpine become another Santee or Lakeside.

I’d like to have the opportunity to serve on the board and I am looking forward to getting to know what is on the minds and hearts of the people who live here.


Retired Superintendent of schools

I have lived in Alpine since 1978 when I was selected to be Superintendent of Schools. I have served in Alpine Kiwanis; the Alpine Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; the Alpine Community Center Board during the Building program; as Founding and continuing member of the Alpine High School Citizen’s Committee; and on the Alpine Community Planning Group’s Circulation Committee for many years.

Our home was destroyed in the recent fire. The decision to rebuild was never a question. The future of Alpine is very important to me, and to all of us. I believe my experience and commitment will be helpful in shaping it/


Planning group member and general contractor/entrepreneur

I am running for election as a board member on the Alpine Community Planning Group. I have attended the groups meetings for a few years now, making sure to stay up to date on Alpine’s community plan.

My wife and I have been residents in Alpine for the past 7 years. We welcomed our first son in 2013 and will be expecting our second in January 2019. We have gone over the many options presented by parenthood and found that Alpine best fits our vision of family values.

I own and manage a small business as a General Contractor and my wife is a CAD designer for an engineering firm. Our career paths require knowledge of site plans, zoning, and community plans.

I hope to lean on this knowledge to best serve Alpine.


Planning group member and U.S. Government Contractor

The West Fire has taught us a lesson that I have known all along; development in Alpine must only be done with careful consideration for the fire threat in our area. Emergency access is essential.

For years I have been the voice of reason on the Alpine Community Planning Group. My primary concern is the safety of Alpine’s residents and protection of our homes, animals and possessions. I have consistently stood up for intelligent, safe,

development while protecting the private property rights of us all. In addition, I am the only current planning group member to have worked with a group of residents for a park for all of Alpine, one that has shade, sports fields, picnic areas and a leash-free dog park. Finally, I was the only current planning group member to have worked with parents to place the lighted crosswalk at Alpine Elementary and the traffic slowing signs at Joan McQueen Middle School.

A vote for me guarantees that you will be represented in planning decisions in our community. I will not place any special interests above your interests.

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Candidates for ACPG

I recommend Lou Russo for both Alpine Community Planning Group and Alpine Union School District Trustee. Lou genuinely cares about our community in Alpine and Alpine's kids. He is not afraid of the hard work it will take to turn things around for the AUSD school board. He is disciplined, intelligent, experienced, and possesses empathy and compassion for our youngsters. He has what it takes; not just qualified, but the best man for the job.