Solana Beach Sun

Meet the candidates: Solana Beach City Council

Four candidates are looking to fill two open seats on the Solana Beach City Council.

Residents will have the opportunity on Nov. 6 to vote for Kristi Becker, Kelly Harless, Craig A. Nelson or Valeri Paul.

Meet the candidates (in alphabetical order) in their own words:

Kristi Becker

Kristi Becker
Kristi Becker Stefanie Blue

Occupation: Retired attorney

Number of years living in Solana Beach: Grew up in Solana Beach and moved back seven years ago

What are your top three priorities for Solana Beach?

1. Commercial Development Must Fit Our Community:

Del Mar Resort. I oppose this Resort as proposed. Although the site for the Resort is in Del Mar, it sits directly on our southern border. If you’ve seen the story poles, you know how oversized this project is for our community. This Resort will cause lasting impacts, including on traffic, views, and lifestyle and change the character of our City forever. It’s essential that our City take all available legal action to stop the rezoning of this site.

Solana Highlands Apartments. The entire existing project will be demolished and 260 new apartments will be built. I will ensure this project fits the surrounding neighborhoods and work to eliminate or minimize negative impacts on the neighborhood.

2. Lomas Santa Fe Drive — No roundabouts. I do not support any proposal for construction of roundabouts on the east side of Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Many residents have expressed their opposition to these roundabouts. It’s important that our City Council listens to and respects the opinions expressed by residents.

3. City Finances. Solana Beach is fiscally strong and has considerable reserves. We have set aside funds for future maintenance and replacement of City assets and have addressed our pension liability. I will continue to guide our expenditures in a fiscally conservative manner and ensure the City does not unnecessarily spend taxpayer money. For example, last year our City established Solana Energy Alliance (“SEA”) which gives residents and businesses the option to buy cheaper electricity (3% less than SDG&E) with a higher percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Based on my experience as a Commissioner on the City’s Climate Action Commission, I am uniquely qualified to work as a watchdog to ensure SEA is successfully managed and financially beneficial for our residents and businesses.

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Kelly Harless

Kelly Harless
Kelly Harless Courtesy

Occupation: Alzheimer's Research Institute Clinical Trials Program Manager and View Assessment Commissioner

Number of years living in Solana Beach: 20 years

What are your top three priorities for Solana Beach?

1. My top priority is advancing the “Neighborhoods First” approach in City Council processes. In other words, the input of those impacted the most by a project should carry the greatest weight in the City Council’s decision-making process. The recent controversy surrounding roundabouts is a good example. Neighbors strongly and almost universally opposed the roundabouts. The City Council listened and eliminated them from consideration. We must engage residents earlier and better in the planning process so that individuals from all neighborhoods – east of I-5, Eden Gardens, around Skyline, near the train station, on the bluffs, etc. – feel heard and have input in the initial phases of discussion into projects that affect them.

2. I will ensure that future development – including the proposed Del Mar Resort and the planned Assisted Living Facility on Marine View Avenue — fits our community. I am adamantly opposed to rezoning the property for the Del Mar Resort. The project with its half-million square feet, 251 rooms, 76 villas, 15 apartments, convention center, restaurants, and 700-space underground parking garage is simply too large for our coastal character. The impacts on traffic will be tremendous. In addition, the Assisted Living Facility development must be planned thoughtfully so that neighbors are not negatively impacted by view obstruction, traffic, parking or emergency vehicle access. As a Solana Beach View Assessment Commissioner, I have demonstrated success balancing the rights of developers and the neighborhood.

3. Finally, I will ensure that the City’s budget is managed responsibly so our fiscal health remains strong. It is important to put the net revenue generated from the SEA program to the best use for Solana Beach. In my well-established career, I have successfully managed large groups of personnel and multiple clinical trial programs with multi-million dollar budgets. I have the knowledge and experience to manage our City’s finances.

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Craig A. Nelson

Craig A. Nelson
Craig A. Nelson Courtesy

Occupation: Finance executive

Number of years living in Solana Beach: 17

What are your top three priorities for Solana Beach?

1: Quality of Life:

Solana Beach, ready for gridlock? I've lived in Solana Beach for 18 years and I'm committed to putting the interests of our local neighborhoods first. The proposal for roundabouts and gridlock on Lomas is the opposite. Neighbors on the East side “ROARed” their disapproval - over 90% opposed the plan. West Side listen up , this is about you too -- talks about a “rail trail” along Lomas from the Country Club to the ocean ...sounds idyllic - until you ask where the land would come from - the school? homeowners? or remove one of the lanes on Lomas.

2: Fiscal Responsibility:

I’m a curmudgeonly old finance guy who doesn't like spending money. During the recession, I was twice elected chairman of the City’s Budget & Finance Commission & Solana Beach came out of that recession on solid ground.

Now property values are up and you’re paying more taxes — we need someone at City Hall to sweat those details more than ever.

My kids, Jimmy & Nicolette, will tell you my favorite question is, “Why do you need it and what’s wrong with the old one?”

Come to think of it, I wish my Congressman would ask that question more often.

Vote for me and I’ll watch out for you.

3. No Surprises: Did you know our City formed its own Green Power Company to compete with SDG&E? Did you know you’re now a customer and if you want out there’s an exit fine? No kidding. I’m a skeptic — no, not a climate skeptic.

I’m a "somebody’s trying really hard to sell me something I don’t need", skeptic.

So armed with my SDGE bill I jumped online and signed up for 100% green renewable energy from SDGE. Took me about 2 minutes, turns out I’m now greener than the Green Energy Company of Solana Beach. Solana Beach needs more skeptics.

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Valeri Paul

Valeri Paul
Valeri Paul Courtesy

Occupation: Business owner and educational consultant

Number of years living in Solana Beach: 18

What are your top priorities for Solana Beach?

1. Representing Solana Beach citizens by listening and communicating, not forcing my own agenda. Time and time again Solana Beach citizens tell me they do not know enough about initiatives until it is too late. They want to be heard and respected.

2. To be fiscally responsible to the City of Solana Beach budget. The majority of the budget comes from property taxes. I am considering entertaining innovative ways to shift the income of the budget so it might come from other sources.

3. Future focused on Solana Beach, especially on policy reviews and new policies that represent this community. Most Solana Beach folks want to preserve the charm and culture of the community. According to the census, this is a very well educated community (more than 30 percent have graduate degrees.). A forum for their voice to be heard as well as represented is important.

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