By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Participating candidates, left to right: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian
October 13, 2021 (La Mesa) – East County Magazine will host a virtual forum for La Mesa City Council candidates running to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Akilah Weber’s election to the state Assembly. The candidates will be Thursday, October 14 at 7 p.m. It will be recorded via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyMagazine. A podcast will also be posted at www.EastCountyMagazine.org after the forum.
Six candidates are running and four have agreed to participate: Mejgan Afshan, Kathleen Brand, Patricia Dillard, and Laura Lothian. A fifth, Jim Stieringer, provided detailed information on his experience and goals if elected.
Find information on these five candidates below.
Mejgan Afshan is a civil rights advocate, community organizer, and nonprofit co-founder. The daughter of Afghan refugees, she grew up in La Mesa and City Heights, according to her bio, attending Helix and Grossmont High schools She is cofounder of Borderlands for Equity, a civil rights nonprofit, and a founder of the East County Justice Coalition. She has worked for the International Rescue Committee, CAIR San Diego, and is Treasurer of the San Diego Refugee Forum.
She is running on an “equitable policy platform” including police reforms, access to affordable housing, addressing homelessness, environmental justice, and creating a permanent library/technology/arts hub. Her key endorsements include the San Diego County Democratic Party and the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club. https://votemejgan2021.com/
Kathleen Brand serves on the La Mesa Community Services commission and is a 21-year resident of La Mesa. She’s worked to establish the city’s first community garden, been involved in master plan workshops, community townhalls and sidewalk improvement planning. She is a planner and landscape architect for the City of San Diego, involved in downtown development projects including housing, parks, green streets and safe streets for bicycles.
She wants to invest in La Mesa neighborhoods to improve pedestrian safety and promote businesses in neighborhoods, have more transparent police policies, build a new library, upgrade parks and implement sidewalk and bicycle master plans. https://www.brandforlamesa.com/
Patricia Dillard has lived in La Mesa for 25 years. She is running to provide all La Mesans with access to economic opportunities, healthy neighborhoods, and high quality education. She currently serves as Vice Chair of La Mesa’s Community Police Oversight Board.. She works with Western Capital Mortgage and holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership. She has worked to advance women and minority owned businesses and has also served as a minister’s wife, active in Church of Christ.
Her top issues are education, homelessness, affordable housing, the economy and public safety. Her key endorsements include former Councilmember Dr. Akilah Weber and Dr. Janet Castanos, chair of the La Mesa Community Police Oversight Board. .https://patriciadillard.com/
Laura Lothian, a realtor with a business in the La Mesa Village, serves on the La Mesa Village Association Board, the merchants’ group representing the downtown area and which organizes downtown events. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors and the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
Her priorities are keeping communities safe, opposing tax hikes, supporting small buisnesse, cleaning up streets and reducing homelessness. She supports police and opposed formation of the Community Police Oversight Board. She has previously run for the council, when her key endorsement was the San Diego County Republican Party. https://www.lauraforlamesa.com/
Stieringer previously served as La Mesa City Treasurer, trustee on the Grossmont Union High School Board, and as a director on the Grossmont Hospital Board. A Vietnam Veteran and former Air Force captain, he is a retired contracts manager who worked for Teledyne Ryan and other companies. Stieringer believes public health and safety must be primary concerns and supports COVID vaccines. He wants full funding of police and fire departments.
He voices concern over “a fortress-like image” of high rise housing such as the new project at Baltimore Drive and El Cajon Blvd. He supports “granny flats” up to 800 square feet but opposes plans to build “low quality, low cost housing in our neighborhoods.” His wish list includes a larger public library, community theatre for local performing arts and a meeting space for local non-government groups.
Michelle Louden did not respond to repeated invitations and has no website that we could find.
If you have suggested questions for candidates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Thursday, before the 7 p.m. forum.