District 1 city council candidates square off

This newspaper sat down with District 1 City Council candidates Phil Thalheimer and Sherri Lightner to talk about them, their campaigns and their stands on the issues. Here is what they had to say.

Sherri Lightner





Retired mechanical engineer, now a fulltime volunteer/community activist


Lives in La Jolla Shores


Married, three children

Favorite books/genre:

Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas L. Friedman, "Book of the Dead" by Patricia Cornwell and "While America Aged" by Roger Lowenstein.


Reading, crocheting and camping in addition to gardening and cooking.

What are the primary differences between you and your opponent in this race?

I actually show up at public forums. Phil has not shown up. I've been going to planning groups now for over a year, talking to people and actually visiting the neighborhoods.

What are your thoughts on the city's pension crisis?

The City Council and the mayor have been putting money in to pay down the unfunded liability, but that's a 27-year plan that relies on a stable stock market. The city's going to have to look again at changing pension benefits. That's going to require negotiations and meetings with the parties involved to see if there's some give and take.

How will the current economic crisis impact the city?

We could be in a terrible situation if we have to cut. We'd have to look at the budget line item by line item. Maybe we need to be more aggressive in securing some of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds.

What weight will you give the recommendations of community advisory groups?

Planning groups deserve to have their voices heard. I'd like to see more outreach to the communities … I believe community groups should be notified when a project of concern is actually coming through to be docketed, instead of finding out when the final docket comes out. I'd like to see more town hall meetings, maybe quarterly.

As a city council member, what is your role?

To work for the people in the district.

Do you like the strong-mayor form of government?

There are some flaws. There is some concern that if the mayor doesn't care for a particular piece of legislation the council has passed they may not choose to enforce it or implement it.

How can the city be a better steward of the environment?

I am proposing we commence building for the future by establishing green industry, getting green jobs here, doing things in a sustainable way. If we could partner the city with universities and attract businesses here with venture capital …we would be able to create a new tax base and a more stable economy.

Where are you on the growth-no growth continuum?

Growth needs to be responsible. It needs to be in accordance with the general plan. It needs to take into account the very severe constraints we have here, the most important being water.

How would you restore trust in local government?

That's why I'm running. … I'm approachable. I listen. I'm not going to cut a deal. I'm going to stick with what the rules are, because those rules took a long time to develop.



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