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By Jonathan Goetz

Scroll down for complete ballot statements from all candidates

August 23, 2016 (Lemon Grove)-- The Lemon Grove City Council is undergoing some major changes. Mayor Mary Sessom is stepping down. Council members Racquel Vasquez and George Gastil are running for the open mayoral seat, along with Teresa Rosiak, former president of Lemon Grove’s Chamber of Commerce.

Although the races are officially nonpartisan,Gastil has won endorsement from the County Democratic Party, an advantage in Lemon Grove, a heavily Democratic community.  Vasquez is also a registered Democrat,while Rosiak is a Republican. 

Both Gastil and Vasquez have their terms end this year, meaning they are giving up their seats by running for Mayor and there will be no costly special election to fill their seats. Five candidates are hoping to fill those slots.

Below are highlights on all Mayoral and Council candidates' qualifications, along with their full ballot statements submitted to the cities. (Note,  statements are within the public review period which ends August 29; statements may change on official ballots if any information is challenged.)

Council member Gastil brings to the mayoral race 18 years of experience in Lemon Grove local government, having served on the school board before his election to the Council.  He says he has led successful revitalization efforts in Lemon Grove and has broad support from both Democratic and Republican elected officials.  Gastil is also a history professor at Grossmont College and SDSU.  

Council member Vasquez’ day job is in communication for construction projects in the City of San Diego.  She was the first African-American woman elected to the Council in this diverse community.  A common theme of her campaign and her statements from the Council dais is her goal of improving the quality of life for Lemon Grove residents and making Lemon Grove a “world-class city.”

Rosiak is a medical credentialing specialist, as well as past president of the now defunct Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce. She says she is running to bring fiscal responsibility and reinvigorate the city.

Vasquez and Gastil have differed in their views on a high-density development.  Vasquez has been supportive, voicing concern that with so much already vested in the project, other developers would shy away from investing in Lemon Grove if the City blocked the project. Gastil and the rest of the Council went along with community members opposed to the project and ultimately rejected it.

Their departure from the City Council leaves two open seats on the Council. Five candidates seek to fill the two open seats. They are Jerry Selby, a project manager and former Council member, David Arambula, an employment litigation consultant, Steve Browne, a business owner, Matt Mendoza , an operations manager, and Michael E. Summers, a small business owner.  Neither the County Republican nor Democratic Party has yet made endorsements in the Council race, though Arambula and Selby are both registered Democrats; Browne, Mendoza and Summers are Republicans.




George Gastil

Occupation: Lemon Grove City Council Member/History Professor

George Gastil has served Lemon Grove in good times and in hard times. As a Lemon Grove School Board Member (1998-2008) and as a Lemon Grove City Council Member since 2008, Gastil has made tough choices to serve our community on a tight budget.

George Gastil works with local leaders to get things done for our city. We are revitalizing our downtown and attracting new businesses. We are building sidewalks and improving neighborhood parks and infrastructure. We are paying off our pension liability for long-range savings.

Gastil helped create the Community Advisory Commission (CAC) to promote meaningful public involvement in public safety, community planning, recreation, and other topics.

As our Mayor, George Gastil will continue to work for stronger local economy and safe, walkable neighborhoods. Gastil has earned the support of Mayor Mary Sessom, Council members Jerry Jones and Jennifer Mendoza, the Lemon Grove Firefighters, and County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

A strong regional leader, Gastil represents Lemon Grove on the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Board and the East County Economic Development Council.

George and his wife Janet have raised three sons in Lemon Grove. A long-time East County resident, Gastil teaches at Grossmont College and San Diego State University.

Join with Lemon Grove leaders to support George Gastil. Please visit


Teresa A. Rosiak 

Occupation: Medical credentialing specialist

I am a 52 year resident of Lemon Grove and I am passionate about our city and its residents. I have been employed by a major healthcare/hospital facility in San Diego for 22 years as a Credentialing Specialist and I am a proud single parent to two incredible daughters. I am a survivor of domestic violence, parent volunteer for USA swimming and Past President of the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce.

I want to be a conduit between the City of Lemon Grove and its residents. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain and difficulty” and I want to be a passionate advocate for you the residents. I will work hard to serve you and this great community of ours and together we can reinvigorate our city.

Responsible leadership, fiscal responsibility and transparent accounting of everything to you the resident is imperative. Public safety is crucial and making Lemon Grove business friendly again is mandatory and I will strive to be accountable to you so that we can have a great community.

Join with me and be a part of improving Lemon Grove the greatest place on earth.


Racquel Vasquez

Occupation: Councilmember/Community Relations Officer

I am running for Mayor because Lemon Grove residents deserve the best quality of life. My vision is to make the City of Lemon Grove a thriving, safe, and business-friendly City, with small-town charm offering arts, culture, and recreational opportunities. I will work hard to create a clean, healthy, and walkable City, which has enriching activities for everyone.

My top priority will be listening and acting on the concerns of residents. With your help, I will bring innovative and transparent solutions to balancing the budget, while protecting vital police/fire services. I will also foster new business development and infrastructure improvements for City streets, buildings and parks.

My professional background includes over 16 years as a City of San Diego Community Relations Officer; two-term Planning Commissioner, Mayor Pro Tem, and Councilmember for the City of Lemon Grove. I have served on many regional boards including the East County Economic Development Council; League of California Cities Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee; Lemon Grove City-School District Collaboration Committee; and founder of Thrive Lemon Grove

My husband (retired Navy), daughters, and I have proudly resided in the City of Lemon Grove nearly 16 years.

Let’s put my solid leadership in government service to work for the City of Lemon Grove!

Vote Racquel Vasquez for Mayor

(619) 335-5571




David Arambula

Occupation: Employment Litigation Consultant

David Arambula is a veteran of the Marine Corps, proud father of three wonderful children (one of whom is currently serving in the Coast Guard). After serving our country honorably, David attended undergraduate, graduate (business) and law school.

David has been a strong advocate for working people for many years and he firmly believes in working together to find solutions to common issues in the community. David serves on the executive team of the UCSD Chancellor’s Community Advisory Board and currently works as Litigation Consultant for a law firm that focuses on workers’ rights.

David believes Lemon Grove residents deserve a city government that actively seeks input from residents and businesses, identifies relevant issues and takes steps necessary to address the residents’ concerns in a timely manner. Placing people before politics and getting results is David’s motto.

As a member of the City Council team, David will focus on protecting our families and ensuring safe neighborhoods; constructing/repairing sidewalks, streets and other infrastructure; creating partnerships with new and existing businesses to rebuild downtown and create more local jobs; revitalizing Lemon Grove.

Together, we can build a prosperous Lemon Grove. Thank you for your vote!

David Arambula


Steve Browne

Occupation: Business Owner

Steve Browne is a dedicated community leader and business man with deep connections and roots in the community. He, and wife Maria, are raising a family in the home they own here and has run the family business here for 30 years.

Steve’s community service and volunteer work includes 22 years as Youth Director of St John of the Cross and Chair of the Annual Meal Program for Seniors. He has participated in Clean Up Lemon Grove events and was a committee member on the Downtown Redevelopment Committee (2001) and Street Improvement Task Force (2013).

Steve, like most of us, is concerned about the safety of our businesses, parks and neighborhoods. He is dedicated to increased citizen involvement, positive youth programs, effective use of law enforcement resources, and a healthy business environment that attracts and retains the businesses we all want.

“Through my connection to the community, in business and volunteer work, I bring an understanding of the community’s wants and desires. If elected, I bring 30 years of business experience that effective government desperately needs and an understanding of how to get things done. We will work together to make Lemon Grove a better place.”

Vote Steve Browne


Matt Mendoza

Occupation: Operations Manager

Born and raised in Lemon Grove I know what is important because, like you, I live here. I attended local schools, met my future wife at an east county church, and have had my home in Lemon Grove for 31 years.

Living in Lemon Grove all my life, I know my neighbors and have talked with many people and no matter what nationality they are or if they are Democrat, Republican or Independent, it all seems to come down to these four basic desires we are all looking for. A clean city, decent local business, good paying jobs, and a safe place for our families to live are what Lemon Grove residents want.

Being business friendly will encourage companies to locate to Lemon Grove, which will create more jobs for our residents, and will make Lemon Grove a thriving community again.

As Manager of Operations for a multibillion-dollar company, my 37 years of aerospace experience in problem solving and leadership is what sets me apart for you. Creating a team to meet goals is my job. Whether departments, companies, government agencies or the military, bringing them together to meet a deadline, all within budget, is what I do.


Jerry Selby

Occupation: Project Manager

Jerry is an experienced leader who gets things done.

Jerry knows that Lemon Grove is great place to live and is dedicated to enhancing our quality of life. He is committed to keeping our town safe, paving our streets, the security and maintenance of our parks, and a walkable community that promotes walking and biking access for all.

Jerry’s leadership on City Council helped guide the city through the tough times of the great recession. He understands that economic growth and a vibrant business community are the means to the things we all want, security, jobs, paved streets, more sidewalks, and expanded recreational opportunities.

Jerry bought the home where he and his wife raised their three girls in 1988. He’s a member of the Lions Club, United States Soccer Federation, US Field Hockey and US Lacrosse. He serves on the Cal South Soccer Foundation Board of Directors.

Jerry is a SDSU alumnus with a BA in Public Administration and Masters in City Planning. Jerry served on Lemon Grove’s Planning Commission for three years and the City Council for six years. He currently serves on Lemon Grove’s Redevelopment Oversight Committee and the School District’s Bond Oversight Committee.

Vote Jerry Selby


Michael E. Summers

Occupation: Business Owner, Community Volunteer, Father

As co-owner of a small business in downtown Lemon Grove, Michael Summers is dedicated to ensuring Lemon Grove remains a business-friendly city, focused on providing streamlined services to, and improving public safety for, its residents.

A great city like Lemon Grove deserves leaders who serve from the heart.

A Vietnam veteran with the United States Marine Corps, Michael understands what it means to serve others, and throughout his life he has worked to better his community.

Michael has served numerous, local non-profits over the years, including positions as President of the Humanist Fellowship of San Diego, President of the Greater San Diego Telecommunications Association, Chairman of the El Cajon Arts & Culture Commission, and Treasurer for the La Mesa-Spring Valley Educational Foundation.

Michael has also worked in various management positions over the years, with companies such as Cox Communications and Westfield America.

Michael graduated from Wheaton College with BA’s in Psychology and Biblical Studies, and earned an MBA in Financial Management from National University. He is married and the father of three wonderful, young ladies: Brittany, Laura and Amanda; and is step-father to Carolina and Benjamin.

Bring a new leader to Lemon Grove. Elect Michael Summers.


Disclosure: Prior to joining East County Magazine, Jonathan Goetz was Consultant and Campaign Treasurer for George Gastil and Racquel Vasquez in their 2012 Council elections.


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