Meet the San Diego City Council District 1 candidates

Five candidates — Barbara Bry, Ray Ellis, Kyle Heiskala, Bruce Lightner, Louis Rodolico — seek to represent District 1 on the San Diego City Council, which covers Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa, Del Mar Heights, La Jolla, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines and University City. The seat is currently held by Sherri Lightner, who must step down due to term limits.

If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the June 7 primary election, the top two vote-getters will face each other in a November run-off. Following are biographies (in alphabetical order) provided by the candidates, along with their responses to a set of questions posed by this newspaper.

Barbara Bry

Biography: Barbara Bry is a high-tech entrepreneur and community leader who worked her way through college and grad school, earning a master’s degree in business from Harvard. As a single working mom, Barbara was on the founding team of several local high-tech companies, including, which has created hundreds of local jobs.

A leader in the San Diego business community, Barbara taught entrepreneurship at UCSD and founded Athena San Diego, an organization that supports the advancement of women in the tech sector. As a business journalist, she has also spotlighted the vibrant small business community that supports our city’s economy and was honored as Small Business Journalist of the Year for San Diego and Imperial Counties by the Small Business Administration.

Barbara has deep roots in the community and has lived here for 35 years. She is married to Neil Senturia, raised her two daughters here, and is a proud grandmother. She served as president of the Board of the Children’s Museum and as vice chair of the Jewish Community Foundation. She was also a two-time Bobby Sox team manager for her daughters.

As the first high-tech entrepreneur on the City Council, Barbara will bring her enterprising mindset to City Hall to keep San Diego safe, clean and prosperous. Barbara will work to create more good paying high-tech jobs and help small businesses grow, so that we can invest in maintaining San Diego’s quality of life by fixing our streets, protecting our beaches, bays, and parks and conserving our water supply.

1.) What do you think are the most important issues facing Carmel Valley?

Safe neighborhoods are central to any community. Compared to other cities, San Diego has a relatively low crime rate, and our hardworking SDPD officers deserve much of the credit for that. That said, our city’s crime rate is rising, 9-1-1 call wait times are mounting and we need to do a better job of recruiting and retaining quality law enforcement officers to protect San Diegans.

In addition, we need to reduce traffic and protect neighborhoods from over-development. That is why I stood with the community to fight against the initial One Paseo project. It was not appropriate for the Carmel Valley community because it was too large, out of character for the area and traffic generation would dramatically increase congestion. It was not smart growth.

One of the issues that concerned me most about the project was the tremendous increase to traffic along Del Mar Heights Road and its impact on emergency response times.

Finally, as the threat of a strong El Nino subsides, we must redouble our efforts to combat the drought to secure our long-term water supply.

2.) How would you address those issues?

If we want to keep crime low, we’ll need to continue to recruit and retain the best officers. Currently, there are about 165 police job vacancies. It would be my priority to work with the Police Department on a plan to fill those positions as soon as possible.

While I am optimistic about the progress that has been made, I am concerned that the latest smaller proposal for the One Paseo project would increase traffic and emergency response times.

Before allowing any plan to advance, I urge the city to establish an emergency response team on the west side of I-5 and to develop a permanent public safety solution for the area. In addition, Kilroy should provide tram service and work with the community to set the best routes to reduce congestion. In the long-term, we need to work with SANDAG and the city to bring public transit to Carmel Valley more expeditiously.

Finally, I’ve outlined a plan to secure our water supply, and it can be summed up by the 5 “R’s”— Reduce, Recapture, Recycle, Rates and Reinvent. You can read my complete plan as well as my plans to address housing, job growth and other issues at:

3.) What professional achievement are you most proud of?

I was on the founding team of, a pioneering e-commerce website that was one of the first companies to ship flowers direct from the grower to the consumer. We began as a startup with five people in a small office on Girard Avenue in La Jolla and grew the company to employ hundreds of San Diegans. I have spent my career building teams and launching companies and non-profits like Athena San Diego. Helping to grow from a small San Diego startup to a national brand is one of my proudest professional accomplishments.

4.) Why do you want to serve on the San Diego City Council?

I’m running because I love San Diego. I want to keep our community safe, clean and prosperous. We need to fix our streets and sidewalks, protect our beaches, bays and parks, and create more good paying jobs in the high-tech and life science sectors. These jobs provide the tax base that helps us maintain our quality of life. As the first high-tech entrepreneur on the City Council, I will work to keep these industries thriving, and I will leverage my experience to make City Hall more efficient and more responsive to your needs and concerns.

Ray Ellis

Biography: Ray Ellis is an independent problem-solver who works to make San Diego a better place, especially for those who are struggling. Through his volunteer work with numerous nonprofits, Ellis has helped improve the lives of abused children, the homeless and the environment. He also led on important civic challenges like implementing pension reform as volunteer board president of San Diego’s pension board.

Ellis recently received San Diego Social Venture Partner’s Community Leadership Award for “A life dedicated to community service.” Ellis is successful small business owner who started a national marketing firm from his garage. He is running for City Council to protect pension reform, fix our roads and create good-paying jobs. Ellis is opposed to both downtown stadium plans. Mayor Kevin Faulconer and community leaders from La Jolla, University City, Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights have endorsed Ellis.

1.) What do you think are the most important issues facing Carmel Valley?

Like most Carmel Valley residents, I think we live in a wonderful community. My goal as your councilmember will be to protect and enhance our quality of life. There are still some concerns regarding emergency response times related to the One Paseo project. Traffic and overall mobility is a concern. As a volunteer on the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, I know how important maintaining our trails and protecting our open space is to our community.

2.) How would you address those issues?

With regard to One Paseo, one solution may be utilizing a Rapid Response Squad on the west side of I-5, which has been successful in other parts of the city. To address the traffic and mobility concerns, installing synchronized traffic signals and making our community more walkable and bikeable will improve the situation. I believe in strong public-private partnerships. Working with organizations like the Friends of Del Mar Mesa, other volunteer groups and the city, we can collaborate to address issues with our trails and parks throughout the community.

3.) What professional achievement are you most proud of?

I love leading successful teams. I’ve done it as a volunteer board member with local nonprofits, as a small business owner and as a civic leader. Leadership is about collaboration, helping each team member to see the vision and then working together to achieve results. I did this when growing my business from 0 to 150 employees. I’ve volunteered in leadership roles with numerous nonprofits to help organizations -- that serve abused children, homeless people and the environment -- have a bigger impact in our community. As the volunteer president of the city pension board, we all worked collaboratively to help stabilize the pension system and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

4.) Why do you want to serve on the San Diego City Council?

I am an independent problem-solver running for City Council to fix our roads and infrastructure, protect pension reform and create a strong local economy, including good-paying jobs. I also have drafted plans, which you can read on my website, to improve education and help our students thrive, reduce our dependence on expensive imported water, lower housing costs and resolve our short-term rental problems.

Kyle Heiskala

Biography: Kyle Heiskala first interned in the Council District 1 office in 2010. Ever since, he has dedicated his life to public service and improving the community. He obtained an Environmental Systems degree from UCSD in 2015 and currently serves as a City Council representative for Council President Sherri Lightner. He represents the University City community, and is a policy adviser on Infrastructure, Public Safety and Transportation. Heiskala is also the liaison to the University Community Planning Group and UCSD. Previously, he sat on the University Community Planning Group for three years and was appointed to the Bicycle Advisory Committee by the mayor.

Heiskala’s priorities as a candidate are expanding housing, alternative transportation, public safety, and protecting the environment. His website is

1.) What do you think are the most important issues facing Carmel Valley?

The biggest issues I would focus on in Carmel Valley are the lack of alternative transportation options, improving public safety and housing affordability.

Carmel Valley is a desirable community to live in where we should make sure housing is accessible to families that live and work there. Implementing innovative transportation solutions will address the mobility challenges and provide more connections to greater San Diego.

2.) How would you address those issues?

As councilmember I would work to implement traffic signal optimization along Del Mar Heights Road to improve emergency response times. I would also be supportive of further analyzing the completion of the Village Center Loop Road extension.

New technologies like car-sharing and community scale shuttle programs could greatly improve circulation. I’ve worked directly with MTS on similar projects and see a need in the area for more mobility options. More bikes, buses and walking!

San Diego at large can reform our housing policies to ensure that there are enough homes available for the people that work in an area like Carmel Valley. When people can afford to live close enough to their jobs, traffic can be reduced and the quality of life is improved.

3.) What professional achievement are you most proud of?

One of my proudest achievements was successfully implementing an overhaul of the student transit program at UCSD, the new Triton U-Pass. I negotiated directly with Metropolitan Transit System officials and developed the $20 million, five-year proposal that received overwhelming approval by a student vote. Thanks largely to my efforts, the program gives over 31,000 students unlimited access to all bus and light rail routes in the San Diego region until 2019 with the option to renew the contract.

4.) Why do you want to serve on the San Diego City Council?

I’m the only candidate running with experience working at City Hall. I know how to get things done that benefit the community at large. I love solving problems and see the areas of improvement where the city can do better. We need strong experienced leadership and a fresh perspective. I am ready to lead on Day One and implement my vision of San Diego as a smart city of the future.

Bruce Lightner

Biography: Bruce Lightner is an experienced business owner and community activist who fights for the neighborhoods of Council District 1. Bruce and his wife, Council President Sherri Lightner, are both UCSD graduates who have lived in San Diego for over 50 years and in La Jolla for almost 25 years, where they raised their family.

Together, Bruce and Sherri own and run a successful engineering business. Bruce is a design engineer focused on computers and electronics, with over 33 granted U.S. patents in the fields of computer architecture, electronics and software algorithm design.

While still in graduate school, Bruce formed his first computer/electronics startup in the Kearny Mesa area with three other graduate students. That initial company soon spawned a separate electronics manufacturing company.

Bruce continued his involvement in multiple successful high-tech startup ventures over the next several decades, most based in San Diego, collectively employing hundreds of people with quality high-paying jobs - eventually creating hundreds of millions of dollars in shareholder equity. The employees and partners in these ventures in turn have created a number of San Diego based high-tech companies.

Both Bruce and Sherri have been tireless volunteers for a number of community organizations over the past 20-plus years, with Bruce providing the tech support for groups such as the La Jolla Shores Association and the La Jolla Town Council. Bruce also notably led the successful fight to keep special-interest backed paid parking from La Jolla’s streets and beach areas.

1.) What do you think are the most important issues facing Carmel Valley?

I believe the most important issues facing Carmel Valley include whether to build the revised One Paseo project, along with the completion of the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood, the need to alleviate traffic gridlock on main arteries in Carmel Valley, especially during rush hour, and the need for additional fire and emergency coverage in surrounding areas such as Torrey Hills and Torrey Pines.

2.) How would you address those issues?

  1. One Paseo: I don’t support the revised project because it is still 1.2 times too large for this site, and as a result, it doesn’t have widespread community support. Residents remain rightly concerned about the traffic and quality of life impacts that a project this size can create for the surrounding neighborhoods. I would continue to work with the community and the developer to achieve a reasonable compromise that minimizes traffic impacts.
  2. Completion of Pacific Highlands Ranch: this neighborhood is one of the best master-planned communities in District 1. It is nearing completion, with two major elements that still need to be completed. The Community Park and Rec Center design has recently been finalized and the project will soon be moving forward to construction. In addition, Village Loop Road needs to be completed to improve traffic circulation through the area. I would work to help acquire the property to complete this vital connector.
  3. Addressing traffic gridlock, especially along Del Mar Heights Road: we need to look at integrated traffic signal synchronization along the entire length of the road and with surrounding streets to help improve traffic flow, especially during rush hour. We should also look at freeway on- and off-ramp improvements and ensure that any traffic synchronization extends to those ramps.
  4. Fire safety and emergency response coverage: while Carmel Valley itself has good fire and emergency response coverage, some of the surrounding areas, such as Torrey Pines and Torrey Hills, suffer from slower response times. We need to build an additional fire station in Torrey Hills, as called for in the 2011 Citygate report on citywide fire and emergency response coverage. We should also look at a possible addition of a two-person fast response squad for Torrey Pines, as has been requested by the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board.

3.) What professional achievement are you most proud of?

Co-founding the startup chip-design company Metaflow Technologies in 1989 is the professional achievement of which I am proudest. After 10 years, we occupied a building in the UTC area next to UCSD which kept almost 100 engineers (most with six-figure salaries) busy creating “bleeding edge” processors and graphics chips. Several individuals in that talented group eventually spawned their own successful local high-tech startup companies. Metaflow was sold to ST Microelectronics in 1999. The intellectual property and patents we created for Intel and others are found in Intel-based PCs and servers that are in wide use today - allowing these computers to run up to three times faster than otherwise would be possible.

4.) Why do you want to serve on the San Diego City Council?

I am running to replace the now termed-out City Council President Sherri Lightner, who happens to be my wife of 43 years. We are both engineers, and we are both 100 percent focused on our neighborhoods and your daily quality of life, unlike the two partisan, special-interest backed candidates who plan to use this office as a stepping-stone to higher office. The amount of developer and special-interest money being dumped into these other campaigns is unprecedented. While Sherri is a Democrat and I am a Republican, we both are fact-based, rational decision makers who agree on local issues because we recognize that this job is about serving the community we love - not a particular political party.

Louis Rodolico

Biography: I have been a resident of District 1 for 15 years. I was a Licensed California Architect before I retired last year. In California I worked mostly on hospital projects but was also a project architect for the renovation of the Grant Hotel in San Diego and the Viejas Gymnasium. Before coming to California I lived in Philadelphia, where I worked on the Treehouse at the Philadelphia Zoo and the New Terminal F for the Philadelphia International Airport.

In college I was president of the Society of American Military Engineers. After college I was on the board of the Frankford United Neighbors Community Development Corporation, treasurer of Frankford Young Women’s Christian Organization, and also served with the Frankford Transportation Committee, Bridge-Pratt Businessman’s Association, and was vice president of the Deni Playground Advisory Council. I am currently a non-board member of UCPG. My volunteering includes donating blood which I have done about 120 times and I coached juniors baseball for seven years. I have a 30-year history of pro-bono community work including being a pro-bono advocate for a $300 million transportation center, gymnasiums, a women’s shelter, commercial stores/storefronts, playgrounds etc. I also build houses in Mexico with a church group.

My wife, Katie, grew up in University City and attended Curie Elementary in the ’60s. Katie and I have two children and deep ties to the community. You can review my published position papers at:

1.) What do you think are the most important issues facing Carmel Valley?

One Paseo is like too many projects in San Diego. Projects that do not get or do not implement public input and then when they are revealed raise tension in the community and build mistrust. For lack of a better description I have referred to these projects as Dark Projects. We must respect the input from the taxpayers and take advantage of their collective knowledge. Concealing a project until it is too late for community comment is the ultimate disservice. I have worked as a pro-bono community advocate on dozens of projects and I have learned that even though I am a trained architect it is always the best path to follow collective wisdom.

I like what Ray Ellis has done with One Paseo, we are kindred spirits in this respect. I know what it is like to face opposition and I also know what a boost it is to have your fellow citizens supporting the same cause with you.

2.) How would you address those issues?

I would implement standard training for planning group secretaries. Complete minutes are a chore but they are often times the first time someone becomes aware of a particular issue. Awareness is 90 percent of the battle. I would insist that the minutes include URL links.

3.) What professional achievement are you most proud of?

When I heard that a local Philadelphia transportation center was going to be renovated I moved quickly. The station was over a 5-point intersection and with dripping water, ice and acute sun angles, it was one of the most hazardous intersections in the region. I proposed turning the 5-point intersection into a four-point with a satellite 3-point intersection. My solution involved moving the train tracks; at first many were skeptical but I kept pushing the point. The train was moved and the dangerous 5-point intersection mitigated. The accident rates dropped immediately.

4.) Why do you want to serve on the San Diego City Council?

I believe that I can make a positive difference. I sometimes propose things that at first may seem unconventional. Unconventional solutions have a way of engaging unexpected and useful responses. As a hospital architect I still needed to have the discipline to implement codes etc.

I am capable of boiling down a complex problem into an understandable graphical image. On council this would be more of a verbal exercise but I will be an asset to council given my understanding of the construction industry, I have children in middle and high school, I am both a home owner and landlord.