2012 showed more of the same in El Cajon with all the city council incumbents retaining their seats. 2014 could offer a bit of a change in the political leadership. Rumor has it that Mayor Mark Lewis will not vie for another term. City Council member Bill Wells has shown interest and at this time seems to be the front runner to replace Mayor Lewis. There is plenty of time until November of 2014 to have another challenger emerge. Could it be Todd Moore who missed his bid in 2010 to unseat mayor Lewis by a small margin or maybe new comer Ben Kalasho who narrowly missed his bid to capture a seat on the city council in 2012? Either way there seems to be the opportunity for new blood to emerge from the elections in 2014. If Wells is successful in his bid for mayor it will leave a position on the city council open for a new face but the leadership and direction will remain consistent. If Wells is unsuccessful it could signal a greater change in leadership and direction for East County. Either way residents should begin to voice their opinions and make themselves heard as to the direction they want El Cajon to progress.
As mentioned in my previous blog I want to discuss ideas I have for increasing business revenue in El Cajon. I must go on record as saying these are ideas I want to pursue but bringing them to fruition will take time and effort (which I am willing to put forth) and some of the items may meet road blocks and/or may not be feasible to achieve after negotiations with the business. I will not broker a deal that I don’t think will be beneficial to both El Cajon as well as to the business itself. It will do little good to give concession to a business only to see it fail a short time later.
The first approach is to recruit businesses that are unique to the surrounding area. It will do nothing to draw people from outside the area to open another Wal-Mart or Home Depot when they have one in their own back yard. I want to see businesses come in to the area that will draw people from surrounding cities. An outdoor superstore like a Cabela’s, Outdoor World, or
Sportsman’s Warehouse would draw people from all over Southern California and even from Mexico. El Cajon is losing its battle on this front to cities like Santee who have Sonic and are on the verge of getting Chik-fil-A and Phil’s Bar BQ. But, there are other franchise businesses that should be looked at that have major followings and tons of advertising, such as, Buffalo Wild Wings, White Castle, Churches Chicken, Etc... I believe the El Cajon Brewery can be used in the same mold but must be marketed correctly and must be embraced by the city bars and restaurants.
The second opportunity is to get manufacturing industry companies into El Cajon. This would have a positive impact on the city in multiple ways. It would make more jobs available and with El Cajon having the highest poverty rate in the county this is much needed. It will fill vacant space and will provide additional tax and business revenues. Having been in the manufacturing industry for the past 26 years I feel my experience and knowledge can help recruit this type of industry to El Cajon.
The third opportunity is to find ways to bring consumers to the area. As mentioned previously, unique businesses will help. Also, getting the East County Performing Arts Center re-opened for performances will bring people into El Cajon multiple times a week. Again, I want to mention what is happening in Santee, and why we are behind the curve in developing a sportsplex. We have Wells Park that is not being used to it capabilities or even the vacant land around the airport along Weld Ave that could house such a venue. It gets hot in East County how about a water park somewhere. What about bringing back the friendship festival or a winter festival? There are areas that this can be done, like the vacant land between the baseball field at El Cajon High School and Main Street. A trolley or shuttle system that brings people to various locations around El Cajon will make it easier for consumers to get to the businesses without the hassles of finding parking.
The fourth opportunity is through El Cajon’s growth. How about annexing some of the unincorporated areas into the city? I’ve heard from multiple people that live one or two blocks outside the incorporated city limits that they would like a say in what happens in El Cajon. They are directly affected by the cities politics and operations yet they have no say to who is elected. By being part of the city they would get the use of the city services and have a vote in the city politics and in turn the city receives the property taxes. This is a lengthy process and requires a majority vote by the area to be annexed. It would involve a lot of work from the city and some PR but I think there are areas that will be happy to join the city.
Lastly, the city needs to look internally at what it can do better to help businesses. The city needs to do a better job of expediting the permitting process, cutting through the bureaucracy and red tape. El Cajon leaders should not only get new businesses running, but help them to succeed once they are established. I’ve heard from multiple businesses that the sign ordinances are too restrictive. We need to evaluate them and work with the businesses as well as the city residents to find a win/win solution for advertising. The PBID organization only works with businesses in the downtown area. What about establishing an organization with a broader scope to help with businesses along second street, Broadway, Jamacha, and other areas?
These ideas and so much more can get El Cajon known as a city where people want to visit and/or live. ake the correct decision in November.
Vote the clear choice "For a Better El Cajon" Duane Swainston for City Council.
There are two propositions that contribute to El Cajon having the highest sales tax in the surrounding cities. Proposition O was a .50% increase in the city sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2004 for a term of 10 years. Proposition J was also a .50% increase in sales tax that was approved by the voters in 2008 but this one has a term of 20 years. Since both propositions were passed by the voters, blame should not be put on the incumbents for the increase but the overall management of these funds, particularly Prop J, can be tied to the city
First off I believe Prop O did serve its purpose and was a worthwhile investment. The revenues raised from the sales tax were to be used to fund the replacement of police and fire facilities with combined earthquake-safe facilities including the latest public safety technology and an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate disaster response, relocating or upgrading fire stations, and replacing animal control facilities. These goals were accomplished or are being accomplished and the tax will expire in November of 2014 (actually coming off the books in the spring of 2015). When this proposition expires it should allow El Cajon to be back at the sales tax level of the surrounding cities.
Now Prop J, on the other hand, is the poster child for all things I despise about tax increases. First off, prop J passed by less than 1%. Secondly, 20 years is too long of duration to be on the books. In the current economic climate you would never see this tax passed again. Thirdly, the wording on this proposition states-The revenues raised from the sales tax are not specified for a particular purpose, but will be available to fund ongoing and essential governmental services, including police and fire operations, recreational services, parks and building maintenance services, and other, general, city services. Thus, the city leaders can use it whichever way they like with the phrase “essential government services”. If this tax was managed correctly along with the city budget it should have been a benefit to the city. You would not see city employees go through years without a pay increase, you would not see a reason to facilitate furlough days, you would not see the city have to defer essential maintenance, etc… alas this is not the case.
If you research the budget prior to prop J (2007-2008) you will find the city revenue was $48,859,573 but now (2012-2013) the city revenue is $50,088,402 which includes $7,400,000 of the added prop J money thus without that added prop J fund the city revenues would have decreased to $42,688,042 that is a reduction of $6,171,531 in city revenues without Prop J. It is hard to tell how much prop J has affected the overall revenue stream through consumers going to other cities to shop but one thing is certain it has not been the cure all for the city’s needs. Instead of the city leaders finding ways to increase the revenue stream to pay for the essential needs of the city, they use the prop J money as a crutch and they still require too many cuts across the board. Government has never been efficient in managing additional money. You may hear the incumbents say they would like to end this tax early but based on performance to date, how is that possible? It is up to the city leaders to find a way to increase the city revenue stream but for the last four years that has not been accomplished. It is up to you and me to expect better results from the money we already pay into the city.
Some of this information was also mentioned in a previous blog but I thought it was so important to the decision making process for the voters that it bore repeating. In the next blog I will share my ideas on ways I believe we can increase city revenues and the changes that should be made to the city’s general plan.
Remember In November make the clear choice for
“A Better El Cajon”
Elect Duane Swainston to City Council.
Recently there have been some negative words being exchanged by supporters of the current council members and those of
the challengers. Questions and statements have been thrown out attacking one another’s character and/or integrity. I want to go on record as stating that I believe all the current council members as well as the challengers including myself have strong morals, integrity, and show a dedication to upholding Christian values but this does not exclude anyone from answering issues that must be addressed when deciding on whom to elect in November. I will be discussing the issues of El Cajon throughout my campaign without trying to make it personal. These issues for the current council members include city expenses, city revenues, city taxes, utility rates, transparency in government, past decisions, etc. The issues for the challengers may be; education, work
experience, future plans for improvements, motivating factors, as well as personal character and beliefs.
I would like to take this time to give you my personal testimony on my Christian walk along with what I believe is needed
information to answer some of the questions about me as a person. This is not about any other candidate and is meant to give you an idea of who I am as a Christian and as an individual.
I grew up in a Christian home. I attended church and church activities (youth events, youth groups, sports teams, etc.)
regularly with my mother and my sisters while my father only attended church on special occasions such as Easter, Christmas, and Weddings. I was baptized as a youth in Jr. High and accepted Jesus Christ into my life. As happens with a lot of males when I started in college I was attending church less and less until I just stopped going. I still considered myself a Christian.
I knew God was still with me but I was trying to control my life thinking God needs to help other people because I didn’t really have any major problems. I did not get into any real trouble. I did not turn to a life of crime and have never been arrested. I began my life in Aerospace manufacturing in 1986 and was married in 1989 to my wife of 23 years, Linda. We had our first child (Braxton) in 1990 and our 2ndchild (Breasha) in 1992. During that time Linda was attending Skyline church and I would attend on special occasions but didn’t feel the desire to attend regularly. When we moved to El Cajon in 1994 we switched churches to Foothills Christian Church. I say we but, again I was not attending regularly. My wife and children did attend regularly and I was happy as I knew the positive effect it had on my upbringing and as a base for my moral standings. It really wasn’t
until my son started his senior year at Foothills High School in 2007 that I began to attend Foothills regularly. I felt the need to stop trying to control all things in my life and ask God for guidance. There was no miraculous event that I can recall being the turning point but I believe it definitely was strongest when I decided to quit my job and start my own business in October of
2008. I have been attending regularly ever since. I am involved in a home group and I am also involved and attend a number of other activities with Foothills Church. My interests into politics began with a sermon from Mark Hoffman (probably circa 2007-2008) about getting involved to make a difference in politics. When my daughter graduated High School in 2010 and I had sold my business, I felt the call from God saying it was time. I ran in 2010 and finished second having spent very little money thus God said “do it again” and here I am in 2012. Let me tell you this, God tells you the journey he wants you to take but he doesn’t tell you what the end result will be. All I could say was OK let’s get this thing going and do it bigger and better this time. I pray for
guidance and it seems when I lay in bed to go to sleep he answers. That is one reason I wrote this testimony.
I don’t pretend to paint myself as the perfect Christian. I don’t solely listen to worship music, some of my
favorites are 3rd Day, Red, 7th time down, The Newsboys, etc. but I also like country music and have a guilty pleasure with 80's rock. I have been known to curse at times when in the heat of a battle during a sporting activity but I try to control my emotions. I do drink alcohol (beer usually and do try to refrain from excess). I am a sinner, as we all are, and fight the battle every day. Not that it is anti-Christian but, I shoot guns, fish, hunt, ride dirt bikes and I am heavily into playing and watching sports. I consider myself a man’s man.
90% of people probably won’t read this far but If God lays it on your heart to vote for me after researching the issues in
the city and what I can contribute to make El Cajon better than do it, as in the end it is Gods will. Just because there are other Christians on the current council doesn’t mean they have to stay there. God may have a new journey for them.
Intimidation-This was touched upon in a previous blog, but the fact is the incumbents with the help of the Lincoln Club have secured the rights to have only their campaign sign posted at desired location throughout the city. These areas in past elections had been open to all candidates, incumbents and challengers alike, to post their campaign signs. The Lincoln Club endorsing the incumbents is no surprise since during the endorsement interview it was clear who would be selected as Mr. Wells and Mr. Ambrose are members of the Lincoln club and were sitting in the audience during the interview process. The fact that the incumbents have chosen this tactic to try and limit the ability for the challengers to reach the public must mean they are worried about the election results and cannot stand on their record alone.
Deception-The Wells and Ambrose campaign signs state “Balanced Budget” and “No New Taxes”. If they are basing it on past performance Mr. Ambrose really hasn’t been involved in any budget process as he was just appointed 4 month prior. He was a member of the planning commission for 23 years but that does not translate to overall city budget. So let’s take the last four years of budgeting for Mr. Wells and Mr. McClellan and look at the record.
Actual Revenue $47,518,021
Prop J Sales Tax Funds $487,500
Actual Revenue $47,388,579
Prop J Sales Tax Funds $6,750,000
Actual Revenue $49,610,693
Difference $300,484 mainly due to higher property tax and sales tax revenue.
Note: Proposed budget that was actually signed up for was
Expenditures of $50,291,521, Revenue of $47,115,400 result would have been
Prop J Sales Tax Funds
Projected Revenue $50,088,402
Prop J Sales Tax Funds
Summary-Over the last four years there has been a deficit from City Revenues to Expenditures of $5,253,144. Yet they have been buoyed by $21,937,500 in prop J sales tax money. So, if you use 2007-2008 city budget as a baseline for city revenue (as this was prior to Prop J money
and prior to Wells being elected) the City revenue was $48,859,573 as opposed to this years (2011-2012) projected revenues of $50,088,042 minus the projected Prop J sales tax fund of $7,400,000 you would be at a base of $42,688,042. Thus, over the last four years city revenue has decreased by $6,171,531. The only reason there has not been a big uproar from the community was the prop J sales tax has been hiding the mismanagement of the city budget. When they say no new taxes can you believe it based on how heavily they rely on Prop J sales tax or does it matter that they just recently raised your sewer rates? Isn’t that a form of tax? It is definitely money out of yours and my pocket. Now is the time to say enough is enough.
Vote Swainston in November
The Clear Choice for a Better El Cajon
When you tell friends or co-workers you live in El Cajon or you invite people to go out to a restaurant in El Cajon do you get the look that says "Why"? I've been there. That is one reason I am running for city council, to make El Cajon a place where you can be proud to live in and be able to invite people to the city without getting "the look". I am not the only one trying to make a difference. We have groups of residents that are involved in the city and are taking the time to make a positive impact.
One group I'd like to recognize is the members of the El Cajon Neighborhood blog. Here is the link to their site- blog link. These people are involved in their community they take actions to help with neighborhood watch, shopping cart retrieval, graffiti
notifications, as well as, community projects. They work hand in hand with the El Cajon City police force that runs the blog site. This is a wonderful forum for community issues and actions. I urge all El Cajon residents to sign up (I did) and even if you aren't available for a lot of the actions you will have insight into what is going on in your neighborhood. Did you know each neighborhood is broken into sectors for police purposes? I didn't until I signed up. There is a lot of information on the site that are important to city residents besides the blog/forum, so sign up now.
Another individual (and El Cajon resident) with an idea that I really support is Susan Barron. She started the East County Cash Mob. Here is a couple of links to more information on this idea, the events, and how to be involved. Facebook link and Twitter link. The purpose of the event is to add some much needed revenue to local East County small businesses that may be struggling during these hard economic times. It works like this, a particular business is selected, a date is set, and anyone that is available with money to spend comes out and supports that business. Usually the business gives the supporters a discount and after you are done shopping (or whatever) they meet up at a local restaurant for lunch. So, you are helping more than one business usually, you are saving money, and you get to meet and hang out with like-minded people from your community. It's a win/win for everyone involved.
If anyone else has an organization or individual that is making a difference in El Cajon and you would like to recognize them please post it into the comments section of this blog.
To make El Cajon A place you can be proud of
In November vote the clear choice "For A Better El Cajon"
I entered into this city council race with the idea of running a clean campaign. The goal is to highlight the issues effecting El Cajon and how I can make a difference. It is not my intent to "Sling Mud". I wanted (and still do) to only focus on what I can bring to the table via my education, business experience, and my values. It seems that there may be some dissention between two of the current council members (Wells and Ambrose and/or their support committees) and anyone that could pose a threat to their re-election. I lump Wells and Ambrose together as they are sharing space on their signs for election and they seem to be running a joint campaign. The first sign of "dirty politics" came via Ben Kalasho (another candidate) who stated someone from the Wells/Ambrose camp had taken down his signs and replaced them with theirs. He received a call from a Rubio’s employee stating that a bunch of his signs were in the Rubio's dumpster. Although a bit disturbing I did not see it as having an effect on my campaign until I visited a business location that hosted my fundraiser to inquire about placing a sign in their window. I was informed that when I posted pictures of my fundraising event and thanking them for supporting it they received harassing phone calls and e-mails wondering why they were supporting myself as a candidate and not backing the incumbents. Due to the backlash they have chosen to stay neutral on the political race. I can appreciate the stance as a business decision and don't blame them in the least. It is a lot better than other businesses in downtown that are posting the large Wells/Ambrose signs yet very little has been done by these incumbents to improve the consumer traffic. I believe it has to do with a certain developer that owns most of the property in the downtown area and doesn't want to see any changes for fear that his "sweet deals" may come to an end. It is my opinion, that this developer is forcing his tenants to "toe the line" and place these supporting signs at their establishment whether they agree or not. It seems kind of like a "mafia" type of intimidation technique to me. The only thing I can hope is that the outward appearance can prove to be deceiving. What you are forced to do under duress and what you actually have to do once you are in the voting booth can be totally different. What happens in the voting booth is between you and God. No one else will know how you voted unless you share the information truthfully with others. Another issue i find perplexing is at most locations that Wells/Ambrose signs are posted there is a smaller sign stating that only candidates that are endorsed by the Lincoln club are allowed to post signs. When the Lincoln Club was contacted by 10 news they denied knowing anything about these signs. As of the time of publishing this blog, The Lincoln Clubs website does not even list who they are endorsing in El Cajon.
Note: The third incumbent running is Bob McClellen but as of this time I haven't seen any signs go up for him or heard much from him. I don't know if he is just planning on running on his reputation alone or he will do more in the next two months. I am sure I will talk with him as the campaign continues.
If you want to make a choice for "A Better El Cajon" with transparency in government and an end to "dirty politics" and "the good ole boy network" Then you need to
Vote Swainston in November.
I believe El Cajon has some of the best employees of any city in California or the nation. I know firsthand how great Kathie Rutledge and her staff are from my past and current run for city council. They are very friendly and knowledgeable of all things related to the city. She will
be dearly missed when she decides to retire. I know I am not alone in this opinion. Everyone tells me how great there experience was whenever they visit city hall and the city clerk’s office.
Our emergency services are dedicated to the local community and making sure all El Cajon residents can feel safe and protected. The police force is involved with the residents in the neighborhood watch programs and participates in many activities in our local schools. Heartland Fire & Rescue although shared with the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove are also very
active in community functions and education.
The city works department is also a valued member of this team. They are quick to remove graffiti usually within 24hrs of it being phoned in. I have had the pleasure of dealing with them to collect some campaign signs that were placed in the wrong locations but they were nothing but pleasant and courteous. They maintain our parks and streets and do a wonderful job.
No matter how good anything is, there is always room for improvement. I believe the city employees are not being used to their full potential and are taken for granted. First off, as I stated we have some of the best city employees anywhere and when I say they are not being used to their full potential I don’t mean given more mundane tasks. These people work on the
inside of the city every day and if anyone knows the problems and has ideas on how to fix them, they do. The city officials need to do a better job of listening to the city employees, solicit ideas from them, and put their ideas into work. And, when I say taken for granted I mean through wage freezes and furlough days. The city has modified its pension benefits to make it an employee paid type 401k account, much like in the private sector, which I do support but you cannot say you are happy with your yearly balance budget that includes wage freezes and furlough days which effectively put the city employees behind the ever increasing cost of living.
My goal is to increase city revenues without assistance from tax and rate increases. I will bring in businesses and consumers. We need to find a reason for people to want to visit El Cajon and spend money in El Cajon. One way to bring traffic back to El Cajon is through the re-opening of the East County Performing Arts Center. Another method is to recruit and encourage businesses
that are unique to the area to invest in El Cajon such as, an outdoor superstore like Cabela’s or Outdoor World. These types of businesses would draw people from all around Southern California or further and even from Mexico. I will make El Cajon a place where people want to live and raise their families.
Vote Swainston in November for “A Better El Cajon”.
It all stems from my business background and my drive for success. I have been in manufacturing management in the aerospace industry for the past 16 years and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. In the manufacturing industry you can’t wait on making improvements and taking action or you will find yourself behind your competitor. As I stated in a recent council meeting a motto of mine is “Execution not Excuses”. You must find ways to break down barriers and cut through the “red tape” to get things completed. If you wait for the perfect scenario to start then you will always find excuses why something can’t be done. If the future conditions aren’t quite clear you establish a plan based on multiple scenarios then as the conditions present themselves you have done the ground work and you are ready to take action.
Communication, cooperation, and respect are keys to being a successful leader. Unfortunately, many residents feel the current leadership is making backroom deals and driving their own agenda without input from the public. I am a big advocate for transparency in government and keeping the public apprised of the decisions and actions that are being made. I will solicit input from the residents of El Cajon and I will value their opinion. I will work with all groups to achieve a common goal, regardless of political, social, economic, or ethnic differences.
With the new “Charter City” status there is more pressure and responsibility on the city leaders to make the right decisions. The city leaders have much more control on how the city will be run and managed. It would be my goal to make El Cajon the most efficient and well managed city in California. I would like El Cajon to be the model that state legislators and the governor look to for ideas of how to better manage at the state level. I want to do this without raising taxes or utility rates. I want people to be proud to say they live in El Cajon. I want to see consumers flock to El Cajon because we have the lowest sales tax rate in the state. I want to see businesses flourish and create a positive revenue stream for the city. I want to see these things have a positive impact on the residents of El Cajon by providing more employment opportunities, a fully staffed police force and fire department, and a better overall quality of life.
These are the things the Drive me to run for El Cajon City Council and these are the goals that will continue to drive me once I am elected. Only the voters can take the stand and make this a reality by electing
Swainston for El Cajon City Council November 2012.
The clear choice “For a Better El Cajon”
People often ask me, “Why do you want to run for El Cajon City Council?” Well, let me start off by acknowledging the current members who are up for re-election. They are Bill Wells, Bob McClellen, and Tony Ambrose. I believe all three men are dedicated to family values and have strong upstanding character. I highly respect these men for their moral standings and strong faith, so that is not a reason I’m running.
I am running to make a difference in El Cajon. I believe my business background, education, and life experience is what is needed to bring businesses and consumers back to El Cajon. The current council may have good intentions but I don’t see them challenging the “Status Quo”, bringing new ideas to the table, and reinvigorating life in El Cajon. Too many decisions seem to be made without input from the community. Instead of finding ways to work more efficiently and effectively they put the burden on residents, businesses, and consumers by proposing and passing rate and tax hikes.
My business background has been primarily in the manufacturing industry. Unless you have worked and managed in a fast paced, cost conscious, quality focused, schedule dominate private business (like manufacturing) it’s hard to have a clear understanding of the tools and drive it takes to succeed. I have this experience. I want to bring this work ethic to local government and make the city more efficient and prosperous for businesses and residents alike.
You can help make this happen in November 2012.
Join my supporters by voting for
Duane Swainston for El Cajon City Council.
The clear choice “For A Better El Cajon.