El Cajon

WELCOME, EL CAJON RESIDENTS!

Our El Cajon Living section covers the city of El Cajon and unincorporated El Cajon areas including Fletcher Hlils and Rancho San Diego.

Click here for fascinating facts about El Cajon.  For community and city links, click here.


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BRUSH FIRE ENGULFS HOMES IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

 

Update 12:32 a.m. Dec. 3:  San Diego Sheriff's Office issuing evacuation orders for following locations: Brabham St. at Jamacha, Wind River Rd. at Sonnett. Dr., Sea Pines R. and Congressional Dr., Sawgrass St. and Medinah Dr. Residents on Hilton Head Rd. east of Jamacha have also been advised to prepare for evacuation.

Update 11:50 p.m.:  A temporary evacuation center is being set up at the Edwards Cinemas at 2951 Jamacha Rd.

The Sheriff reports that the following road closures are in effect: Brabham St/Wind River Rd, Brabham St/Jamacha Wind River Rd/Sonnett St Sea Pines Rd/Congressional Dr Sawgrass St/Medinah Dr

By Miriam Raftery, East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo: Screenshot, ECM news partner 10 News

December 2, 2020 (11:25 p.m.) – A wind-whipped brush fire has engulfed at least three homes in the Rancho San Diego area of El Cajon tonight. At least 15 acres have burned and the incident commander has reportedly indicated that the fire has the potential to reach 200 acres.

Night-flying helicopters have been dispatched by San Diego Fire & Rescue, joining ground crews from Heartland Fire, Cal Fire, and San Miguel Fire Departments.

The #WillowFire started around 10:30 p.m. in the 2800 block of Willow Glen Drive near Hillsdale Road. Evacuations are in place from Wind River Road to Lim Rock Road.

The SDG&E outage map indicates power has been shut off to portions of Rancho San Diego and nearby communities of Spring Valley, Jamul and Dulzura.


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AUTOPSY CONFIRMS PEDESTRIAN KILLED BY VEHICLE IN EL CAJON INCIDENT DISPUTED BY FAMILY

East County News Service 
 
December 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – An autopsy conducted by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office confirms that Stephan Anthony Harris, 29, of El Cajon died of multiple blunt force injuries caused by being struck by a vehicle on November 25.  The finding refutes claims made by Harris’ family.

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EL CAJON STABBING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN SPRING VALLEY

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On October 23, a family member found Victor Saul Garcia Jr., 33, dead inside his home in the 1100 block of Marlene Avenue in EL Cajon.  El Cajon Police homicide detectives and the forensic lab determined that the victim had been stabbed several times after a struggle.

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EL CAJON POLICE SEEK WITNESSES TO ACCIDENT THAT KILLED PEDESTRIAN

By Miriam Raftery 
 
November 26, 2020 (El Cajon) – A man in his 20s suffered a fatal head injury yesterday when he was struck by an unidentified vehicle Wednesday evening around 8:40 p.m. in the 300 block of West Chase Avenue. El Cajon Police Department is asking anyone with information to call (619)579-3311.
 
Police and paramedics responded, but were unable to save the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
 
An initial indication indicates the vehicle was traveling westbound on West Chase Avenue near Estes Street, when it struck the pedestrian, who was crossing the roadway.

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A LIFE OF GIVING BACK: AARP CALIFORNIA AWARDS STATE’S HIGHEST HONOR TO FOUNDER OF VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE CLINIC IN EL CAJON

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

November 24, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A San Diego man has won AARP California's Andrus Award - the organization's highest honor. At age 85, Stuart Harvey is a retired civil engineer and a founding board member of the Volunteers in Medicine free clinic in El Cajon.


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: HIKING EL CAJON MOUNTAIN

 

November 24, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- What’s it like to scale El Cajon Mountain, often called El Capitan, one of the most impressive peaks in East County?


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MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER IN DEHESA SHOOTING DEATH

East County News Service

Update: The victim has been identified as James Owens, 31, of unincorporated El Cajon.

November 21, 2020 (Dehesa) – Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call reporting a shooting Thursday night at 10:30 p.m.in the 6000 block of Stallion Oaks Road in unincorporated El Cajon.

According to Lt. Thomas Seiver, deputies learned that a person acquainted with the man who was shot had driven him away from the scene. Deputies stopped the vehicle on Stallion Oaks Road near Dehesa Road about a mile and a half away.

They found the victim inside and attempted lifesaving measures. Sycuan Fire Department arrived and relieved deputies, but unfortunately they could not revive the man and he was pronounced dead at the scene.


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74TH ANNUAL MOTHER GOOSE PARADE GOES VIRTUAL ON SUNDAY, NOV. 22

 

If you missed the parade you can watch the virtual video here with highlights of the best parades through the years:  https://www.facebook.com/ABC10News/videos/365702947867513

Source: Mother Goose Parade

 

November 16, 2020 (El Cajon) -- East County's holiday favorite Mother Goose Parade, traditionally held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is going to look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic when it takes place.

Virtually on Sunday, November 22nd, on San Diego's KGTV-TV Channel 10News.com, starting at 1 p.m.  It will be an exciting video montage of past parades so everyone can still enjoy the parade, but safely.

The parade, the largest holiday season parade west of the Mississippi, has been a community tradition for 74 years. Despite having to cancel the celebration, which traditionally winds down the main streets of downtown El Cajon, parade organizers anticipate the broadcast will still be a festive experience marking the beginning of the holiday season.


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MARSHA GABLE APPOINTED INTERIM GROSSMONT COLLEGE PRESIDENT

Source:  Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

November 20, 2020 (El Cajon) -Marsha Gable, Grossmont College’s vice president of Student Services, has been selected to serve as the college’s interim president beginning Jan. 1 following the retirement of Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh.


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EL CAJON TECHNOLOGY SURVEY

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing; CC by SA-NC
 
November 19, 2020 (El Cajon) - The City of El Cajon is currently developing a strategic plan to invest in advanced technologies over the next 10 years. These investments will enhance the relationship between the City and its residents, businesses, and visitors.
 
The city invites residents, business owners and visitors to El Cajon to be a part of this process by taking a brief 5-minute survey. Your feedback will help staff explore ideas and concepts that will help transform the future of El Cajon.
 
To begin the survey, click HERE.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

STATE ORDERS CURFEW NOV. 21-DEC. 21 AS COVID SURGES; COUNTY SHERIFF CRACKS DOWN ON VIOLATIONS INCLUDING IN EL CAJON, DESPITE MAYOR'S HANDS-OFF STANCE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Chart via San Diego County: Surging COVID cases increase stress on healthcare system

November 19, 2020 (San Diego) – California’s Department of Public Health today issued a curfew Nov. 21-Dec. 21 aimed at reducing spread of COVID-19 as cases surge statewide. The County also announced beefed up enforcement efforts, with many cease and desist orders issued in East County, including El Cajon despite the Mayor's pledge not to enforce health rules.

What the curfew impacts

The limited stay home order applies in Purple Tier counties including San Diego. Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., the order prohibits gatherings with people not in your household either on your property or elsewhere. 

Non-essential businesses must cease operations during the curfew; only activities defined as “critical infrastructure” (COVID19.ca.gov Essential Workforce) may continue.

The curfew does not prohibit individuals or people in the same household from leaving their residence, as long as they don’t interact with people from other households. You can walk your dog, exercise alone or with those in your household, ride your horse, and travel for essential purposes such as medical visits, picking up food or going to the pharmacy. The curfew also does not apply to people who are homeless.


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EL CAJON MOTORCYCLIST ARRAIGNED ON INSURANCE FRAUD; ACCOMPLICE ALSO CHARGED

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC

November 18, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Omar Yousif, 22, of El Cajon, was arraigned on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud Monday after allegedly misrepresenting the timing of a motorcycle collision in order to receive an undeserved insurance payout. 
 
Shanice Davis, 21, was also charged as a co-conspirator for her involvement in the alleged fraud. 
 
An investigation by the San Diego Automobile Insurance Fraud Task Force comprised of the Department of Insurance, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol, working with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, revealed that on October 2, 2019, Yousif purchased a new insurance policy for his 2019 Harley Davidson FXFB Motorcycle. Two days later, Yousif and Davis reported that they were in an accident where Yousif’s motorcycle collided into Davis’ vehicle. 

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CAL TRANS WORKER KILLED, THREE MOTORISTS INJURED ON STATE ROUTE 94 IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via ECM news partner 10 News

November 18, 2020 (El Cajon) –California Highway Patrol, San Diego Sheriff and San Miguel Fire Department personnel responding to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle around 12:31 a.m. found a Caltrans worker who was unresponsive on State Route 94 east near the Avocado exit.

Other Caltrans workers told authorities that a driver traveling on the wrong site of construction cones struck the worker and dragged him approximately 40 feet, ECM news partner 10 News reports.


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SOME CHURCHES AND RESTAURANTS FLOUT RULES, OTHERS COMPLY AS PURPLE TIER SHUTDOWNS COMMENCE

 

Story and photos by Jake Rose

Miriam Raftery contributed to this report

 

Photos, left: Parishioners at Skyline Church flock to indoor services, many without masks

November 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Skyline Church in the unincorporated area of La Mesa and Shadow Mountain in El Cajon had full parking lots for Sunday morning services, despite new Purple Tier restrictions now in effect throughout the county.

Purple tier restrictions started at midnight Saturday, due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Purple tier, or Tier 1, is the most restrictive level for California and comes into play when positive tests exceed 8%. Many non-essential business operations must close, places of worship, restaurants and gyms must move all activity outdoors, and retail must cut capacity to 25%.

With businesses already struggling after the initial lockdown followed by an overall slowdown due to the public’s worry about the coronavirus, this second lockdown has some businesses and places of worship around East County flouting the new restrictions.


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SDSU WOMEN'S SOCCER ANNOUNCES RECRUITING CLASS INCLUDING POWAY AND GROSSMONT HIGH SENIORS

The Aztecs add eight newcomers for the 2021 season

Source:  goaztecs.com

Photo:  Sarah Funk via everipedia.org

November 14, 2020 (San Diego) - Mike Friesen, San Diego State head women’s soccer coach, announced the signing of National Letters of Intent from eight high school seniors--including one from Grossmont High and Poway High--who will begin competing for Aztecs in the 2021-22 school year. The announcement was made Friday.


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SUSPECT ARRESTED IN SERIES OF EL CAJON HOT PROWL BURGLARIES AND CAR THEFTS

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A man suspected of a series of residential hot prowl burglaries and auto thefts in El Cajon has been arrested. Davon Lee, 20, of El Cajon was taken into custody yesterday by San Diego police while in a vehicle stolen from the site of the most recent burglary.  


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SOME BUSINESSES AND CHURCHES SET TO DEFY SHUTDOWN ORDERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo,left: Major's Diner in Pine Valley, a long-time roadside stop for travelers also popular with local residents, could not survive another shut down in winter weather, the owner says.

November 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Several East County business owners and at least one megachurch have announced intentions to defy a new state mandate to shut down indoor services starting Saturday.  In addition, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells says police in his city won’t prioritize enforcement of businesses that remain open despite public health orders.

Places of worship, gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are ordered to stop indoor operations under state mandates due to high rates of COVID-19 that have moved San Diego County into the purple tier.  Retailers are supposed to cut service to 25% capacity and any schools not yet reopened are prohibited from doing so.

Restaurants and bars have been tied to 9.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County from June 6 through November 7, or 3,666 cases, according to newly released county health data. Even with many modifications, the most recent two weeks of data from October 25 to November 7 show 389 cases tied to restaurants and bars, or 10.01% of total new cases—more than any other specific business category.

Yet some restaurant owners say they’re done with shutdowns and would be unable to survive another shutdown as winter approaches.


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EAST COUNTY TRANSITIONAL LIVING CENTER RECEIVES LARGE BLANKET DONATION FROM SUBARU OF EL CAJON

Source: East County Transitional Living Center (ECTLC)

November 12, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., East County Transitional Living Center will be accepting a generous donation of 80 blankets from the local El Cajon, Subaru dealer. “The Center is thrilled to receive great contributions like this from a wonderful local business so they can continue to help homeless and struggling individuals in the community,” says Helen Zamora, director of development at the ECTLC.

Subaru of El Cajon is teaming up with Beantown Blankets, an organization that helps businesses and people donate blankets, beanies, bags, and more to good causes to provide the contribution of blankets. Beartown Blankets also matches whatever amount the individual or business buys to donate.

Click Read more to hear about ECTLC's mission, vision, and virtual Gala fundraiser Saturday.


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EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL EXTENDS COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS

Source:  City of El Cajon

November 12, 2020 (El Cajon) - On Tuesday, November 10, the El Cajon City Council unanimously approved extending the City’s COVID-19 relief measures through June 30, 2021. The relaxed rules and fees were set to expire on December 31, 2020. These measures include:


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ANDERSON TAKES RAZOR-THIN LEAD OVER VAUS IN SUPERVISOR RACE; SANTEE COUNCIL CANDIDATES ALSO IN NEAR TIE

Update November 22, 2020:  Joel Anderson now leads by 284 votes over Steve Vaus, with 7,500 ballots left to be tallied countywide.  In Santee, Dustin Trotter is ahead by just seven votes over Samantha Hurst.

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 11, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With 33,000 votes countywide remaining to be tallied, but far fewer ballots left in individual races, the latest update from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows several major contests in East County are still too close to call.

In the important race to fill retiring Supervisor Dianne Jacob’ district 2 seat, former State Senator Joel Anderson has taken a scant seven-vote lead over Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. 

Santee’s City Council race to fill an open seat, meanwhile, has Samantha “Samm” Hurst retaking the lead over Dustin Trotter by just two votes after being tied just one day earlier.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT INCUMBENTS ALL WIN RE-ELECTION AFTER DISTRICT DELAYS RATE INCREASE DUE TO COVID-19

By Jonathan Goetz 
 
Photos (L – R): McMillan, Scalzitti & Gracyk (source: Helix Water District)
 
November 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – Directors Dan McMillan, Joel Scalzitti and Mark Gracyk will all return to the Helix Water District Board, after voters rewarded the incumbents for delaying rate increases due to COVID-19, when many ratepayers are struggling financially. Instead, Helix is dipping into its reserves.
 
McMillan defeated Doug Sterling with 75% of the vote.  Scalzitti took 57% of the vote in a four-candidate race, topping Vickie Knight Butcher who got 27%, Lu Tejeda 12%, and Tyler Logan 4%. Gracyk ran unopposed. 

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MOUNTAIN SCHOOLS CANCEL CLASSES, SHIFT ONLINE DUE TO FREEZING WEATHER, SNOW FORECAST, AND COVID

Districts vary in COVID response: Cajon Valley keeps schools open despite 52 cases since August

East County News Service

November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Four East County school districts in mountain areas have announced temporary halts to in-person learning due to winter weather and in one rural district, COVID-19. Yet other districts continue in-person instruction despite numerous cases amid the pandemic.


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SOME EAST COUNTY RACES FLIP, OTHERS TIGHTEN IN LATEST ELECTION RETURNS

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photos by Erik Herrara:  poll worker wears protective gear during pandemic; voters head to poll on Election Day in Santee.
 
November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a pandemic, 80.7% of registered voters in San Diego County have cast ballots. Of more than 1.9  million registered voters, over 1.5 million have voted – and more than 1.4 million of those opted to vote by mail.  Only a little over 166,000 voted at the polls.

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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

CAMPAIGNING AMID A PANDEMIC: LEADING COUNCIL CANDIDATES SHARE EXPERIENCES AND GOALS

View the interview at https://youtu.be/4zjc_ssHY8g

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Former Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil is poised to regain his seat.

November 7, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Who are the potential newest faces on East County City Councils—and what was it like to campaign amid a pandemic?

ECM invited all non-incumbents leading in East County City Council races as of November 5 for a Zoom interview to share secrets of their apparent successes and what they hope to accomplish if they win their elections to become the newcomers on local councils.


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METSCHEL AND HARPER IN NEAR DEAD-HEAT FOR EL CAJON COUNCIL DISTRICT 2; ORTIZ WINNING ELECTION HANDILY IN DISTRICT 4

Update November 9, 2020: Metschel has opened a lead of 57 votes. Letitia Dickerson has pulled into second place,with Stephanie Harper just 13 votes behind Dickerson

 

By Briana Gomez

Miriam Raftery and Jonathan Goetz also contributed to this story

Photo, Michelle Metschel (Left) and Stephanie Harper (Right)

November 4, 2020 (El Cajon) – Demonstrating that every vote counts, the top two candidates in El Cajon’s City Council District 2 were tied at 936 votes each through most of the night. This morning, Michelle Metschel has nosed ahead by a slim 44 vote margin (1,061 to 1,017) in a race that’s still far too close to call at 21.1% to 20.23%. A close third is Letitia Dickerson with 19.81 percent of votes.

 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EARLY BELL RINGS IN EAST COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD RACES

By Robin N. Kendall

Photo via Bing

November 3, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) — It has been a topsy turvy year for everyone, especially for the area’s school children. Voters weighed enthusiasm, experience and ethics as they chose the next crew of school board trustees, who ultimately will help steer schools out of the rough seas of this quarantine.

On election night, as of early returns at 10:30 p.m., here are our observations.


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ETHICS QUESTIONS RAISED—AGAIN--OVER CAJON VALLEY TRUSTEE JIM MILLER IN REELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2020 (El Cajon) – Stacie Hoover, a candidate running for Cajon Valley Union School District board against trustee Jim Miller, says she is considering legal action against Miller for posts on Defend East County and other sites that she contends are false, defamatory, and racially insensitive.

The Defend East County (DEC) website was shut down by Facebook this week after months of complaints that include racist, violent and defamatory content, though Facebook has not stated exactly why it deleted the site. Miller, a member of the group, posted, “I appreciate your support as my opponent is a BLM backer who was recruited to run against me by the far left.”

Elsewhere, Miller for Cajon Valley School Board posted, “My opponent and her ANTIFA backers continue to tear down my signs and we continue to replace them up to the end.”

ECM asked Hoover, a retired paralegal raising a grandson in the district, about Miller's posts. She replied,“Nobody recruited me. If he has a problem with me supporting black lives, I feel sorry for him and those families in this district and the world.  I don’t have any ties to Antifa. I do not support violence or intimidation from anyone, including him. Now I know how Jill Barto feels.”

Audio: 


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LETITIA DICKERSON WANTS TO FIGHT FOR FORGOTTEN RESIDENTS IN EL CAJON’S DISTRICT TWO

 

By Miriam Raftery

View our video interview with Letitia Dickerson: click here

October 29, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Letitia Dickerson, one of six candidates running for El Cajon City Council in District two, calls the area the “forgotten district” while other parts of the city have seen growth. She pledges to make district two “unforgettable” if elected.

She missed our candidate forum because the city had an error her email address. (View forum with the other five candidates).  Fortunately, she’s reached out to ECM and conducted an interview via Zoom to talk about her goals if elected.   

According to her website, Letitia has lived in El Cajon for over 22 years and says at least 18 of those have been in district two. She was born in Jersey and calls herself “a Jersey girl with a California heart.” She’s gone from homeless to owning small businesses including a smoothie shop and gym, and now works in telecommunications.  She’s raised her children in the district and now has grandchildren here as well.  She’s an ordained evangelical and a Republican who is the coordinator of SoCal Day of Hope, a program that provides outreach and resources to people in need. She’s also volunteered with community nonprofits including Rescue Mission, Salvation Army,  San Diego Food Bank, San Diego Mentors, Promises for Kids and more.

Below are highlights from her interview.


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DIRECTOR JOEL SCALZITTI SEEKS REELECTION TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT BOARD, CITES PASSION FOR PUBLIC SERVICE

View video interview with Joel Scalzitti: https://youtu.be/-O30iV7VXKw

By Miriam Raftery

Joel Scalzitti, past president of the Helix Water Board, is running for reelection in district 5, which includes portions of El Cajon, Granite Hills, Bostonia and Lakeside. 

He’s served on the board for over 10 years, owns  local businesses including a water service company for freeway construction, a donut shop and a deli.  He also serves as a member of the San Diego County Water Authority Board and the Advanced Water Purification board. He’s also served on several Helix Water District committees, including the audit committee, water quality and resources committee, and a committee on parks. In addition, he led efforts to keep the Lake Jennings campground open.

He’s one of four candidates in the race, including Vickie Knight Butcher,  Luis Tejeda, and Tyler Logan. (View our interview with Butcher.)  Tejeda and Logan do not have ballot statements or campaign websites that we could find.

Scalzitti has depth of experience in water issues and says he has a "passion for public service."  Here are highlights of Joel Scalzitti’s responses to our questions:


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