Editor’s Note: The San Diego Free Press has asked three dozen candidates in key electoral contests from throughout the county for submissions explaining why they think progressive-leaning voters should consider voting for them. Many of these candidates are running in down-ballot contests often overlooked by voters.
By Mark Bartlett
Chula Vista is the second most populous city in San Diego County. With nearly 300,000 people, we are projected to grow immensely in the next coming decades. Chula Vista is also a city that is booming. Our city is coming back with a strong resurgence after a sluggish decade wherein budgetary decisions made by the previous administration had a direct impact leading to the downward trend.
New development and construction are cropping up across the city, and community leaders, as well as elected officials, know our city has a bright future. The Bayfront Project, Millenia Project, the potential four-year public university, and the flourishing of our Third Avenue Downtown center are just some of the city’s major growth activities.
We have quite a lot for which to be thankful; however, I would not be running for office if I saw everything as idyllic and perfect. Chula Vista, for all its strengths, has significant pitfalls that elected officials must address. We have a lack of public resources in our northeast corner of the city.
For example, we have been waiting for a full service library in district 1 for decades. I will advocate for that addition, as well as expansion of other public resources in the area, to ensure residents receive access to infrastructures that promote positive social change. I will collaborate with varying agencies across the county to maintain and expand services for after-school programs, parks, community/recreation centers, and libraries, which will ultimately benefit our children, working parents, and seniors.
We also need to continue boosting smart economic development, something that has been slowly happening the past few years. I will advocate for residents and local small businesses to have input on the economic development of our city. Residents’ voices should be heard in discussions of new developments. In addition, I advocate implementations that retain tax services which will subsequently support local services.
As our cityscape expands, public security should be a priority in maintaining the safety of our community. More police and firefighters will increase the quality of life for our residents, businesses, and visitors. We currently have one of the slowest public safety response times due to understaffing of police and fire departments. We must magnify this concern by calling on the city of Chula Vista to put public safety first.
Lastly, we need to challenge the current political structure by calling for term limits. Maintaining the current structure keeps career politicians in office, allowing them to advance their political aspirations over their constituents. We need to close that loophole by implementing strict term limits to keep politicians accountable. It’s time to engage with the general public for input to increase accountability and transparency of local government.
I am running for office because service to country and community has always been my number one priority. Coming from a proud military family, I, myself served in the military and was deployed to Afghanistan’s Parwan Province where I was awarded campaign medals for my service in a combat zone. I served our youth as a mentor at the Juvenile Hall Detention facility and also mentored young youth leaders at our local high schools in Chula Vista.
Working with justice involved individuals prompted me to co-found a non-profit organization, Reentry Resources for Change, where we strived to break the cycles of incarceration and provide authentic reentry resources and programs to individuals transitioning back into society. Currently, I work as a Veterans Caseworker, where I provide our homeless veteran population with wrap-around services that include housing placement and employment services.
This is a historic time in our city’s political landscape. It will be the first time that districts have been implemented where voters in the northern and eastern parts of Chula Vista can have a say in who represents them. Installing districts in city government was just one step in reforming Chula Vista. The next step is electing new representatives who will reflect the values of the community being served.
There is a desire for new leadership in the city. We don’t need someone who touts his accomplishments yet ignores the demands of city residents. We don’t need a career politician who has been in elected office for sixteen years. Positive change and a fresh vision is what Chula Vista garners for, and it’s about time we get that. Community leaders, labor organizations, and elected officials from all over the county agree we need change in the city of Chula Vista.
I have been honored to receive endorsements from the San Diego County Democratic Party, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council, League of Conservation Voters, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Chula Vista Councilmember and Coastal Commissioner Steve Padilla, San Diego Councilmembers Georgette Gomez & David Alvarez, Carlsbad Councilmember Cori Schumacher, Chula Vista School Board Trustees Eduardo Reyes & Francisco Tamayo, Southwestern College Trustees Nora Vargas & Roberto Alcantar, and many others.
Our grassroots campaign has always been powered by the people who strive to see positive social change in their communities. I have worked hard throughout this campaign, and when elected, I will work tirelessly to make sure residents have responsible, reliable, and transparent representation on the Chula Vista City Council. I will fight for District 1’s needs and ensure that the well-being of our residents are met.