Q&A: Meet the Solana Beach City Council candidates

There are six candidates vying for three open seats on the Solana Beach City Council. The election is Nov. 8. Below, in alphabetical order, are biographies and their answers to questions. 

Name: Jewel Edson

Education:

Pasadena City College; real estate license; insurance license; Le Cordon Bleu: certificate in Gourmet Cuisine; Sogetsu School (Tokyo): certificate levels 1-3; and a personal commitment to lifelong learning.

Occupation:

My professional background includes successful leadership and management roles in both large and small companies. I own and operate a small business. Previously, I was director of operations for a tech start-up responsible for HR and finance. Earlier, as senior event planner at Qualcomm, I conceived and managed HR projects and special events. Self-motivated and hardworking, I spent my early career in real estate and mortgage banking.

Community Involvement:

A 20-year resident, I’ve volunteered extensively for our community. As a city commissioner serving on the View Assessment Commission, I have 11 years of experience working with Solana Beach Municipal Code making tough, informed, balanced, land-use decisions. On the board of directors of the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce I promoted our city and local businesses. I lead a successful utility undergrounding project. I serve on a San Diego County panel as Solana Beach’s appointed representative.

1. Why are you running for office?

Solana Beach needs qualified, experienced, proven leaders who are prepared to address the challenges of growing our city while preserving the wonderful qualities we treasure. I’m committed to our community. I stand for safe streets and safe neighborhoods and I value our quality of life. Experienced in land-use, independently minded, and fiscally conservative, I have the professional skills necessary to uphold sound financial practices, encourage new businesses and bring a fresh approach to City Council.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

Ensuring residents’ and our City Council’s discretionary rights to shape development projects so they enrich and fit our community, add to our quality of life, and boost property values. Augmenting the city’s fiscal stability by seeking new sources of revenue, building reserves, expanding our operating surplus, and continuing to grow a thriving business community. Improving public safety, neighborhoods, our parks and pathways, and city processes. Protecting natural resources and meeting state-mandated climate action goals.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project that you would like to try and tackle?

With many large projects anticipated, the next few years will shape our city’s future character. Managing the often conflicting goals of new development and concerns of existing neighborhoods requires skill and experience. The pending train station project is especially promising. If carefully developed it will enrich our community and boost our economy. The ability to strike the right balance by mitigating impacts such as parking and traffic, while addressing compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods is essential.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

Among other things, I promise to listen, respect others’ opinions, increase accountability and promote greater community outreach. I will advocate for thoughtful, responsible growth, uphold sound financial practices, and encourage new businesses. I will promote public safety, and champion safer trails and pathways for pedestrians, strollers and bicycles. I’ll work with impacted neighborhoods to advance long delayed capital improvements and strive to obtain funding to build-out the master-planned La Colonia Community Center and Park.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

Moved by Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005, I took a sabbatical to volunteer with the American Red Cross. When “Rita” hit Texas forcing waves of survivors west, I agreed to stay and assumed the role of staffing supervisor for ARC’s Family Assistance Center. Then came Wilma, the third Category 5 hurricane of the season. I was asked to join the staffing go-team and spent a month in Florida helping manage the deployment of ~5K volunteers.

Name: Judy Hegenauer

Education:

B.A., University of Michigan; M.S., San Diego State University; Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program

Occupation:

(Retired) special education programs administrator at the California Department of Education for 15 years, where I was a director of statewide and federal programs focusing on transition from school to work for special education high school students.

Community Involvement:

Worked to incorporate City of Solana Beach (1974-1986); Solana Beach Civic & Historical Society (12 years), three terms as president; Solana Beach Clean & Green Committee (9 years), founding member; City of Solana Beach Climate Action Commission, inaugural member.

1. Why are you running for office?

A majority of council seats is at stake, and I want the city to continue on its path of careful development and thoughtful growth that will maintain neighborhood character, small-town atmosphere, and property value.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

Several major residential and mixed use private redevelopment projects are currently in various stages of planning, so careful land use decisions are required to preserve neighborhood scale and character and to minimize negative citywide impacts. We must also develop a strong vision of providing steady, clean, and affordable future sources of energy and water if we are to sustain quality growth in the city.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project that you would like to try and tackle?

My years of environmental work with the city has sold me on the many benefits of developing renewable energy sources for the future. Community Choice Energy (CCE) is a program that offers cheaper electric rates and cleaner electricity generation, just at a time when cities across California are struggling to achieve state-mandated emissions reduction goals. I want to press forward with the city’s ongoing assessment of CCE’s risks and benefits to see if it makes sense for our citizens, businesses, and even wider region.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

I plan to keep Solana Beach livable, walkable, drivable, and parkable by carefully reviewing all land use decisions to make sure our citizens, businesses, and neighborhoods get the best deal possible from redevelopment proposals. The health of our children and grandchildren also depends on improving air quality, which is beginning to suffer once again because of increased traffic and lack of transit solutions in San Diego. We must keep the pressure on our officials and institutions to do more to reduce emissions of all types in our region.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I have many passions, including weaving (and running my textile arts business), practicing Judo (I’m a 2nd degree black belt), and ballroom dancing with my husband. I have become an ardent whale watcher and advocate after my first kiss by a gray whale in a Baja lagoon last Spring.

Name: Chris Hohn

Education: B.A. Southern Illinois University; culinary degree, Chicago Institute of Art

Occupation: Sports marketing consultant

Community Involvement: Four years Solana Beach Parks & Recreation Commission, two years as chair of Park’s Commission

1. Why are you running for office?

Being raised on military bases has given me a global perspective about what really matters and taught me how important service is to our society. Initially, I was (and still am) a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, but I want to do more. I chose to run for City Council because it is a great way to serve our community.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

Several issues are critical. Residents’ concerns about burglaries make crime prevention and public safety a top issue. Making sure residents have input into major decisions that affect them, including the Community Choice Aggregation energy program is also very important. Another issue is the need for increased constituent services and outreach.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project that you would like to try and tackle?

Improving crime prevention measures and public safety, including using the power of the City Council to reestablish an effective Public Safety Commission that will build and expand on the existing neighborhood watch program. Additionally, I will support the Sheriff’s department with quarterly ride alongs to gain firsthand knowledge through the eyes of the Sheriff’s deputies.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

Help reduce crime by improving the neighborhood watch program and by establishing an effective Public Safety Commission. I’d also work with the Sheriff’s department to increase patrols and keep our neighborhoods safe. Additionally, I will continue my door to door outreach and hold two town halls so that constituents have greater input and insight to council actions.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I’m a nationally-ranked Master’s swimmer and I really enjoy the friendly competition and camaraderie of the Master’s swim meets.

Name: Ed Siegel, MD

Education:

B.A. English literature, University of Colorado; M.D., University of Florida College of Medicine; Psychiatry Residency, UCSD

Occupations: Physician, businessman, musician, voluntary associate clinical professor at UCSD, author and philanthropist

Community Involvement:

Founder and past-chairman of the Solana Beach Public Arts Commission; past-chairman of the Solana Beach Parks and Recreation Commission; facilitated the acquisition of the Solana Beach Train Station; member of the Fletcher Cove Park Master Plan Committee; member of the Coastal Rail Trail - Linear Park Advisory Committee; founder and director of the Solana Beach Community Singalong (since 1987)

Composed the unanimously passed Official Solana Beach City Song. Established the Solana Beach Art Gallery at City Hall

Siegel passed a City of Solana Beach Resolution to lower the Star Spangled Banner to the key of G-major, “so that most people can hit the high notes,” considered by the New York Times as among the “best ideas of the year.” Siegel was featured on the front page of the New York Times, NBC, CBS, ABC, MNBC, NPR, and many national media outlets.

1. Why are you running for office?

It’s my objective to build a stronger sense of community. Serving people always has been a calling. It has been very satisfying to be actively involved in Solana Beach for over 30 years. The council has become stagnant, imperious, and patronizing. Many citizens, professionals, and leaders in Solana Beach have been alienated by this council. As a council member you can expect that behavior to end immediately. I’ve helped with Fletcher Cove, La Colonia Park, and the train station; and have the ability, track record, and foresight to make Solana Beach better.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

The biggest issue facing Solana Beach at this time is the train station redevelopment. I’m eager to see it become a true asset to the community and not cave into special interests. Our greatest challenge as a city long-term is to maintain and protect what we already have. I have the experience and wisdom to safeguard what is important to us.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project that you would like to try and tackle?

I’d like to see our city hall become a friendlier place - “the people’s home,” adding more cultural and civic uses such as intimate lectures and performances in our ample council chambers.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

My objective for Solana Beach residents will include: a.) work to maintain and improve city streets, b.) decrease traffic congestion, c.) create more community oriented events, d.) work closely with police and fire departments, and e.) improve our schools and child safety.

5. Tell voters some things interesting about yourself. 

People would describe me as outgoing, optimistic, forward thinking, creative, and having a sense of humor. I was born with a talent for playing the piano by ear that baffles me and everyone else. I’ve travelled independently through over 85 countries and appreciate diversity. As a medical doctor I’ve handled emergencies, delivered babies, and performed surgeries. I have the life experience which has prepared me as a leader in Solana Beach.

To learn more about Ed please visit votefored.org.

Name: Cynthia Walsh

Education: B.A. communications, Pepperdine University

Occupation: Parent and volunteer

Community Involvement: 10 years volunteering and fundraising for the Solana Beach schools and for the Solana Beach Schools Foundation. Volunteering for local service organizations such as The Comfort Cub and Friends of the Poor - Africa.

1. Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because I care deeply about our community. I believe the City Council needs more diversity in it’s makeup and in it’s decision making process and I will to represent all neighborhoods and citizens on the council. I believe we can make our neighborhoods safer and I have ideas to accomplish this. I will to bring a fresh perspective to the City Council.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

I think the biggest issue is: how do we maintain our quality of life and community character while facing several major redevelopment issues such as, but not limited to, the NCTD train station and the Dahlia/101 project. These developments will bring many positive aspects such as increased sales for our local businesses and replacing empty lots with new, aesthetically pleasing buildings to complement our Hwy 101 redevelopment. However, with the positive comes the reality of traffic, congestion, parking and public safety issues, and we need to plan for those. It is imperative that we seek out the surrounding neighborhood and citizen input as we progress through these projects so that all points of view are represented.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project you would like to try and tackle?

I believe our city needs to have a Public Safety Commission. The current City Council disbanded the Public Safety Commission last August after 17 years of service. Ensuring the safety of our citizens should be a priority of our City Council. I think we need to examine why the previous Public Safety Commission was ineffective and how we can create a commission that will redefined it’s role and help keep our citizens and neighborhoods safe.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

I will build a strong working relationship between the City Council and our citizens to increase communication and transparency. I will work to ensure that citizens have input and the right to vote on important issues such as the CCA, which affects every household and business in Solana Beach. I will support local businesses so they can thrive and contribute to our economy. I will responsibly preserve our environment, quality of life and the unique charm of Solana Beach.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I am so blessed to have the life that I have and I feel passionately about giving back to those who need our help. Volunteering has been a major part of my life for many years. Did you know that the majority of girls in developing countries don’t get more than a sixth grade education? Through my work with Friends of the Poor - Africa, our group has built the Kupiec Academy for Girls in Nigeria which educates both Muslim and Christian girls, under one roof, grades 7 through 12.

Name: David Zito

Contact Info: www.zitoforsolanabeach.com; dave.zito@gmail.com

Education: M.S. University of California Berkeley; B.S. University of Illinois

Occupation: Software architect, HP Inc.; councilmember, City of Solana Beach

Community Involvement:

25-year resident; four years on Solana Beach City Council; San Dieguito River Park JPA board member; San Elijo JPA (waste treatment and recycled water facility) board member; five years served on View Assessment Commission; 12 years volunteering at Parks and Recreation Committee events; author of the “Solana Beach Community Protection Act,” which passed in 2000 by a 25 percent margin; volunteer at local schools; YMCA trip leader for father/daughter program; former foster parent

1. Why are you running for office?

I am running to provide continuity on the City Council and to complete our many important efforts. My first term was very rewarding and I would like to apply my skills and experience to ensure we maintain our unique seaside character as our neighborhoods and business districts continue to improve. Furthermore, I would like to see that the council continues its practice of listening to all sides on issues and representing every resident and business.

2. What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Solana Beach?

We have many potentially impactful projects coming before us soon. Allowing for resident serving developments to progress while protecting our quality of life is an area in which I have a proven track record. We also need to complete and fund our long term Army Corps Shoreline Protection project to ensure we have healthy beaches for years to come.

3. If elected to council, what is one issue or project that you would like to try and tackle?

There are so many important efforts underway, but my passion is active transportation. We have taken great strides to improve our bicycle and pedestrian facilities, but there is much left to do. We have plans to build sidewalks and bike lanes along all of Stevens Avenue as well as build a railway undercrossing at the San Elijo Lagoon. I will work to see these completed and advocate for many others for the safety of our residents and school children.

4. What will you do to help improve the lives of your constituents?

My most important focus on council is to provide our residents and businesses top-notch public services with our Sheriff, Fire, and city departments. We have great staff but I am always looking for improvements to create a safer, more efficient environment. I will also continue to pursue public improvement projects such as ensuring safe roads, available beach access, and enhancements to our parks and other public facilities.

5. Tell voters something interesting about yourself.

I believe of “interest” are the many accomplishments completed during my first term, such as the La Colonia Veterans Honor Courtyard, beach access stairway repairs, Highway 101 improvements, expansion of our recycled water infrastructure, and a new entry monument at Lomas Santa Fe and Highland. However, a little known “fun fact” about myself is that I do have musical inclinations and played the trombone for many years, even performing internationally in a jazz band.

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