By Janis Russell
October 14, 2014 (El Cajon)- Mayor pro tem Gary Kendrick is up for re-election this November against challenger Elwood Alexander. Kendrick served on the City Council and was then elected as Mayor Pro Tem a year ago.
Kendrick and Alexander participated in exclusive interviews with East County Magazine below. Both men discuss their values, top issues in El Cajon, their views on the East County Performing Arts Center and the city’s proposed deal to lease it to the Rock Church, among other topics.
Councilman Gary Kendrick
Kendrick has a bachelor's degree in Business Management and a masters in Business Administration. He also spent four years as a trustee in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca District Governing Board, five years on the El Cajon Planning Commission, and served as a commissioner for the Indian Benefits Gaming Commission.
He wants to run again because “I want to continue the revitalization of El Cajon. We've done a lot of good things. I want to keep enforcing policies that keep El Cajon economically stable,” he says, noting that crime is down 34% in the last 10 years.
He believes the top issues in El Cajon are:
1) How to continue revitalization of El Cajon
2) Attracting new businesses (Council brought a new BMW facility to El Cajon, a Marriott hotel, and Mercedes Benz is looking to El Cajon for a new facility.)
3) Putting up the performing arts center (“For the first time in history, it looks like there will be a steady stream of income if we consummate the deal with the Rock Church,” Kendrick says)
4) Deemed-approved ordinance (DAO) was designed to stop liquor stores from selling liquor to kids and serial inebriants. But Kendrick says, “The liquor stores are suing us in federal court.”
5)Pension reform (the challenge is for the City to keep promises made to employees and not bankrupt the City, says Kendrick, adding, “Extra money has been put aside to pay the pension debt.”
Asked about areas where he hopes to provide leadership, Kendrick said he wants to crack down on liquor stores selling liquor to minors and serial inebriants. He added, “I also put forth a proposed ordinance for clean/safe hotels and motels because criminal activity has been going on in the motels. I want to control the criminal activity of motels.” In addition, he says, “We've also been talking with developers going to El Cajon to bring in quality development and jobs in our city.”
Accomplishments he is proud of include helping establish the East County Transitional Living Center, a place for homeless people and those with alcohol and drug abuse.” It's saved hundreds of lives and restored hundreds of families,” Kendrick observed. He is also proud of passing the Deemed Approve Ordinance “to protect children from people selling alcohol.” The ordinance will also help families by keeping serial inebriants from being sold alcohol, he believes.
El Cajon faces challenges with many refugees and immigrants from Iraq and possibly more to come given the situation in Iraq with ISIS. Asked for ideas for how to help the newcomers transition to life in America and how the city will cope with this influx, Kendrick responded, “I believe this is really a federal issue. The government has brought over many refugees and took them off their benefits after a few months. The government should keep supporting these people and work with the high school districts and college districts to help them learn English and gain job skills.”
As far as plans for addressing the high poverty rate in El Cajon and bringing better paying jobs, Kendrick states, “We provide the environment where employers can come in and thrive and hire more people. The reason we have a high poverty rate is because of low income apartments. People that pay low rent tend to have low income. We should continue to go after the slum lords that have dangerous conditions in housing.”
He has clear views about the East County Performing Arts Center and the city’s proposed deal to lease to Rock Church. “There's no performing arts center that I know of that exists without a large government subsidy. This is a way to ensure financial success of the theater even in recessions. The Rock Church should pay the market rent.”
His endorsements include the El Cajon City Council members.
He would also like voters to know that “I really want to make the city a great place to live. I've been here a long time.”
Elwood Alexander, who has served in the Navy, hopes to be elected on El Cajon City Council in this upcoming election. He is also a retired electronic technician. Mayoral candidate Jonathan Wright encouraged him to run, he says that I run,” he said. Wright has fixed Alexander’s computer, and they used to work together, he added.
If Alexander gets elected, he would like to “keep taxes down and have more businesses start up. You don’t want to drive businesses out of town.” One of his values is “don’t interfere with anybody unless it’s required.” He brought up how someone of lower rank than him, in the Navy, wanted to pick a fight with him until Alexander reminded him of the consequences.
He has been to a few El Cajon City Council meetings. “I didn’t like the way they voted,” he said of Council’s decision to adjust fees for special operation licenses and renewal fees for pawnbroker and second hand dealer licenses at the September 9th meeting this year. “They should have put it off until the next meeting and then voted,” Alexander added.
As far as his views on the current City Council, he said, “They seem like nice people.”
For his views on the East County Performing Arts Center and the city’s proposed deal to lease it to the Rock Church, Alexander stated, “I would have to see more information about the deal. But I think a more open agenda is required.”
Asked his plans for addressing the high poverty rate and bringing better paying jobs, he replied, “I think that a reduction on taxes and other requirements from the city might help new businesses come to El Cajon.”
He believes the top four issues facing El Cajon are: 1) New jobs by getting new businesses, 2) support for senior citizens, 3) keep up with the pot holes, and 4) make sure the illegal aliens get their shots and are quarantined.
El Cajon faces challenges with many refugees and immigrants from Iraq and possibly more to come given the situation in Iraq with ISIS. For ideas for how to help the newcomers transition to life in America and how the city will cope with this influx, Alexander stated, “I think I would talk to whoever is sending them to El Cajon. Then see if they could help with more information.”
For his views on El Cajon’s recently enacted ordinances regulating alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarettes, Alexander admitted he was not familiar with the issue. “I have not seen any… But I will look into them.”
He doesn’t have any endorsements.
A ECM background check conducted on both candidates found a tax default listed for Elwood Alexander. Alexander provided the following response via e-mail when asked about the tax issue: “I made payments on that, until they returned my checks and said I did not owe any more. The ‘IRS’ IS NEVER WRONG, BUT NOT ALWAYS RIGHT.”
For more information about Alexander, visit: http://www.smartvoter.org/2014/11/04/ca/sd/vote/alexander_e/. The link to his website is: http://www.ewa1.org/.