Candidate Says he has the Right Chemistry for City Council
By Kristin Kjaero
In Part VII of this series on election races in La Mesa, East County Magazine spotlights City Council candidate Kevin Rynearson. For this series we asked all candidates the same set of questions on local issues, with an open invitation to bring up anything else they would like to discuss at the end of the session. We want each candidate to speak for themselves.
September 27, 2010 (La Mesa) – Kevin Rynearson is a 28-year-old student currently working on his third year defense and PhD in organic chemistry at UCSD, specifically in RNA anti-viral therapies for Hepatitis C. Now he thinks he has the formula to improve La Mesa.
He grew up and lived with his parents in Rancho San Diego until he and his wife bought a house in La Mesa in January last year. He attended Valhalla high school before doing undergraduate work at Clemson University, Cuyamaca College, Berkeley and graduating magna cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry from SDSU.
He is on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Orchid Growers, which worked with the San Diego River Foundation to reintroduce native orchids at the El Monte Water Project.
Rynearson told ECM he is running because he read a letter to the editor in the Union-Tribune, saying, “there were not many people running, the incumbents been there a long time, and it sounded like a call for fresh blood.”
“I’m in an academic environment and used to learning fast,” he said, and continued, “Some will say my inexperience is a weaknesses…. San Diego is a model of what not to do; I watched it. I don’t have preconceived notions of how to do things. I’d like to see government streamlined.”
On his candidate Statement of Qualifications for the ballot, he wrote, “Kevin Rynearson is not a politician; he is a concerned citizen with the desire to serve his community. Go Chargers.”
Rynearson listed his main campaign issues as:
• Keeping downtown vibrant and keeping businesses here. He wants “to prevent vacancies like in El Cajon,” he said.
• He would like to repeal Proposition L, the .75% city sales tax passed by voters in 2008. He said he did not know how much of it goes to the General Fund, but he wants it to go to both the General Fund and an emergency fund.
• He said the General Plan review is coming up, and he wants it to be flexible.
• He wants sustainable government, and specifically gave the example of SDGE charging peak hour rates to change behavior, which he said he favors to an extent, although if it were imposed in the future it would need some caveats for seniors.
Rynearson stated that the fire department consolidation between La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove and Heartland earlier this year is a good idea, however he would like to see a trial period and then reevaluate whether response time will be effected. “You’ve blurred the boundaries; will a La Mesa truck respond to El Cajon? I would like to see an annual review of response times,” he told ECM.
He said they have divided up responsibilities; for example one department is handling all outreach and another training, and he’d “like them to revolve these duties so that all areas have a chance for input,” he said.
He would like to look at a similar consolidation plan for Police Departments, if they can maintain the same service level.
Budget and Pensions
Rynearson said he does not know much about the budget and would have to look into it.
“You can find money easily; California gives money away. I would say that is a major role of city council,” he said.
Regarding wages and pensions, he said, “You get what you pay for and we need to pay commensurate to other areas. You want the benefits to be better, because that’s what’s going to attract the best.”
At the September 16 candidate debate sponsored by the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Rynearson said he was not in favor of a two-tiered system, however “it’s a necessary evil for the time.” When candidates were asked if City employees should pay a larger share of their health care, he answered, “No. Health Care is so crucial to every employee and every person in this country. It’s the one issue that can ruin any person. The city employees do a tremendous job. I do not want Fire Department to question whether they should run into a burning building because they worry if their health care will cover them. We want them to be able to focus on their jobs.”
Although he would like to repeal the recent city sales tax increase, he connected it to City pensions, saying, “A lot of people look at the amount [of pensions] and think it is egregious, but I don’t see that as a problem. Cities shouldn’t borrow against their pensions. We get Prop L monies and we should sink it into pensions. These people work hard. I know Prop L won’t be repealed, so we need to use it responsibly. “
Rynearson described his vision for the Village as “1950’s Americana, planters, with a hometown feel but with its own unique character and traditions.”
He said it needs some architectural or unifying theme, something like flower baskets or planters, strategically to enhance, and likes the Mediterranean plants at the fire station because they’re water wise.
“I’d like the City to get involved with the property owner and businesses to reach a comprehensive plan and roll it into the General Plan,” Rynearson said. He said such a plan would include the look of the Village, such as facades, to make it “as desirable a place for customers to come to.”
He said he would like smart parking meter information to be encrypted, like gas stations do to prevent ID theft.
He said that some areas of the City are in disrepair, and that “I know it’s an aging community; I would like to see young people help their neighbors. Being a good neighbor instills a sense of pride in an area, and when you have that everyone starts to do more.”
A routing background check of court and county records, which ECM does on all candidates for higher office, turned up nothing except for standard property transactions.
Patrick D. Dean, Byron Reed, Kevin Rynearson and Ian I. Shiff are challenging Incumbents Ewin and Arapostathis in the November election. ECM has profiled each of these candidates in the past weeks.
For more stories in our La Mesa Spotlight series, see:
La Mesa Spotlight Part I: Mayoral Candidate Laura Lothian
La Mesa Spotlight Part II: Incumbent Councilman Ernest Ewin
La Mesa Spotlight Part III: Incumbent Mayor Art Madrid
La Mesa Spotlight Part IV: Council Candidate Patrick D. Dean