Six candidates are vying for three open Solana Beach City Council seats in the Nov. 6 election. Candidates include Vickie Driver, Paul Frankel, Lesa Heebner (incumbent), Daniel Powell (see below), Peter Zahn and Dave Zito.
Years living in Solana Beach:
•Real estate asset manager and business owner
•USC Marshall School of Business, bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship (1991)
•Blind Stokers Club member and director of Cycling for Sight fundraiser
•Del-Sol Lions Club member
•Chair of the President’s Council of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
•Member of BikeWalkSolana
• Founder of BikeAssist.org
1.) Why are you running for a seat on the Solana Beach City Council?
The city of Solana Beach has had a budget deficit for most of the past eight years. As a business owner and investor, I have the experience it takes to face the fiscal challenges that face our city. I played a big role in overcoming the fiscal challenges that faced the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, and I plan to fix our city government in the same capacity. The current City Council is inefficient and ineffective when it comes to managing the budget. They’ve added fees to residents, but still run budget deficits most years.
I believe city government should live within its means to provide the most important services and amenities, and beyond that should be helping the businesses succeed rather than impeding their ability to be effective. Supporting businesses’ success ultimately drives up revenues that support city services, and most members of the current City Council seem not to be working under that principle.
2.) What experience/qualifications would you bring to the council that you think would be beneficial?
I’ve been a business owner for 26 years, meeting payroll 2,704 pay periods in a row, without fail. I’ve founded three charities that have raised more than $1 million for first responders (police, fire and military), families of first responders and challenged athletes. I’m the chair of the President’s Council of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and a member of the Executive Committee of the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, as well as the Chamber’s Community Events Chair. I know and understand our community and their concerns, and I’m ready to work on behalf of the people to make sure our quality of life and economy are the best they can be.
3.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?
Our city is facing major financial challenges, and the only response by our City Council is to raise taxes and fees. It’s become a vicious cycle where hurting businesses are further burdened, and instead of building our economy and our tax base, we continue to have budget deficits and declining services to city residents.
4.) Do you have any suggestions as to how the biggest issue in your answer for #3 should be addressed by the council?
I think we need an approach that strengthens local businesses by ensuring processes are objective and sensible, and that our City Council considers our city’s well-being as a whole in all its decisions – not just the concern of narrow interests. We’ve let far too many opportunities pass us by, while also placing tremendous burdens on our businesses in difficult times – the Highway 101 project and plastic bag ban being two good examples of poorly executed policies.
I would work with the community on initiatives that help our community thrive. For example, I just organized the first Taste of Solana Beach recently, gave an extra boost to the 18 restaurants that participated. This enormously successful event, along with the Giro de San Diego bicycle expo and races, doubled Solana Beach’s hotel room occupancy for the weekend. We helped our businesses and generated revenue for the city at the same time. This is my approach.
I also would push for policies that recognize that environmental sustainability and economic sustainability should not be at odds. Specifically, I would like to make Solana Beach the “active transportation” capital of the world by bike- and pedestrian-friendly policies, projects and design. Making walking and biking safer and more convenient will be positive for Solana Beach’s small businesses.
By focusing on our local economy and policies that help them, we can balance our budget without adding fees that do nothing to encourage investment in Solana Beach or sustainably build the funds that support our quality of life.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org; powellforcouncil2012.com