By Miriam Raftery
November 8, 2012 (Lemon Grove) – The election of Racquel Vasquez and reelection of George Gastil restores a Democratic majority to the Lemon Grove City Council. Vasquez won 29.30% of the votes cast, followed by Gastil with 23.01%.
“Racquel is a breath of fresh air,” said Gastil, who called the election of Vasquez, an African-American woman, “historic. She is the first person who is not white to be elected to the Council—and she comes in first place, which is a testament to her involvement in the community.”
October 22, 2012 (Lemon Grove) – A week after receiving an endorsement from the Lemon Grove Firefighters, Local 2728, the San Diego Deputy Sherriff's Association has unanimously endorsed both Council Member George Gastil and City Council candidate Racquel Vasquez to fill the two open Lemon Grove City Council seats up for election this November 6.
Gastil is seeking his second term on the City Council, while Vasquez, who currently serves as a City of Lemon Grove Planning Commissioner, is seeking her first.
Upate: Patch.com has coverage of a Lemon Grove Council candidate debate: http://patch.com/A-zfM4
Six candidates vie for seats
By Mark Gabrish Conlan
October 14, 2012 (Lemon Grove)--When the Republican Party swept the 2010 elections nationwide, their triumph stretched as far down as the small city of Lemon Grove in east San Diego County. The Lemon Grove City Council switched from a Democratic to a Republican majority, and in looking for items to cut from their budget they zeroed in on the city’s recreation department.
The vote wasn’t totally party-line. Democratic Mayor Mary Sessom joined Republican Councilmembers Mary England and Howard Cook in eliminating the recreation department and its annual budget of up to $260,000 per year, while Republican Councilmember Jerry Jones joined Democrat George Gastil in voting to keep it.
But the debate over community services versus fiscal responsibility, and the lingering bitterness of some Lemon Grove residents and civic activists over the Council targeting recreation to balance the city’s budget, has become the main theme of the 2012 Lemon Grove City Council race.
September 6, 2012 (Lemon Grove)--Council Member George Gastil and City Council candidate Racquel Vasquez will host a weekly meet and greet at the Lemon Grove Starbucks, 7801 Broadway, starting Saturday, September 8 at 9 a.m.
Each one-hour event will provide residents with the opportunity to meet the two San Diego Democratic Party endorsed candidates, ask questions about their individual campaign platforms, and enjoy a free cup of coffee.
Dozens of toys, hundreds of dollars donated for East County Toy & Food Drive
December 15, 2011 (La Mesa)—Thanks to all of our generous guests , sponsors, and VIP visitors who made this year’s East County Magazine holiday party very merry indeed! As always, we invited community leaders and officials in all parties, plus other special guests.
Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), whose district will soon include much of East County, joined the festivities. Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) sent Assembly commendations for our award-winning writers and photographers. Santa and Mrs. Claus heard children’s Christmas wishes, while an elf handed out prizes.
A FRUITFUL VISION: DEMOLITION STARTS SEPT. 22 IN DOWNTOWN LEMON GROVE FOR CREATION OF NEW MAIN STREET PROMENADE
September 18,2011 (Lemon Grove) – The public is invited to witness history on Thursday, Sesptember 22 at 12:30 p.m. City, county and state officials will be on hand to announce details of the Main Street Promenade Redevelopment Project—and watch demolition of vacant buildings near the trolley station.
Structures are being razed to make room for a linear park and transit plaza, which will serve as gateway to the city and as a central location for community events including a farmer’s market and concerts. Solar energy and wind power will be produced to help offset the park’s $2.3 million cost, paid for through two grants plus redevelopment funds. Ultimately, the promenade will also serve two mixed-use developments planned on adjacent lots with affordable housing, commercial space and a seniors housing project.
May 5, 2011 (Lemon Grove) – A packed audience turned out Tuesday in Lemon Grove, where the cash-strapped city’s council voted 3-2 to eliminate the Recreation Department. Around 20 members of the community addressed the council, which also opted against outsourcing programs to the YMCA.
“All the community people who spoke were in favor of keeping the city’s youth programs,” said Councilman George Gastil, who voted against axing the department.
A community leader and historian contends that the City's proposal to eliminate its recreation department is a lemon--and that residents will be squeezed.
By Helen Ofield, president, Lemon Grove Historical Society
April 26, 2011 (Lemon Grove) – [Councilman] Tom Clabby has given permission to release to you his response to Howard Cook's bizarre email. Please see below. Cook, who ran as a budget wizard, is evidently unable to fathom the same budget figures you and I have been reading.
Poison pen letters like the one to Tom, wild statements to media (Channel 10 a couple of days ago, Union-Trib, etc.) to spread inaccurate statements, skewering long-time, skilled, city employees, attempting to divide the council on trumped-up fiscal issues -- all of this is a throwback to the bad old days when we suffered with a rogue councilman, who also touted himself as a financial wizard. The said rogue has long since been discredited, but not before nearly destroying the Senior Center with his budget mismanagement. In other words, history is repeating itself.
April 8, 2011 (Lemon Grove) – By a 4-1 vote, the Lemon Grove City Council ordered staff to come up with a plan to shut down its Parks & Recreation Department, outsource programs for children and adults to the YMCA, but find a means to keep other functions of the department.
Those functions include leasing recreation buildings to community groups and operating city events, such as the holiday bonfire and concerts in the park. Staff will present its report to Council on May 3rd.
By Miriam Raftery
April 4, 2011 (Lemon Grove) – Faced with a budget gap, Lemon Grove City Council will consider four proposals at Tuesday's meeting for slashing costs in recreational services:
1) outsource youth programs to the Boys and Girls Club of East County;
2) Outsource both youth and adult services to the East County Family YMCA;
3) Combine contracting with one of those organizations to run some programs, while having a new Recreation Services Department handle others;
4) Completely eliminate the City’s Recreation Services Department—a move that could also end City-sponsored community events such as Concerts in the Park, Movie Night, and the annual holiday Bonfire.
By Miriam Raftery
August 22, 2010 (El Cajon ) – Two Congressmen and four local lawmakers fielded questions from the audience Friday night, trading quips and barbs on topics ranging from healthcare to gay marriage. The occasion was the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Politics in Paradise” event in the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, where the weather was sultry and the politics even hotter.
July 6, 2010 (Lemon Grove) – The City of Lemon Grove has issued a proclamation declaring July 10th “Pride Day at Your Lemon Grove Library.” Ron deHarte, emcee of the Pride Celebration, was the victim of a hate crime that occurred in Lemon Grove last summer while participating in an equal rights torch relay that passed through Lemon Grove.
ABDUSSATTAR SHAIKH, CO- FOUNDER OF SAN DIEGO’S ISLAMIC CENTER, HONORED FOR 50 YEARS OF SERVICE PROMOTING RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE
By Miriam Raftery
October 8, 2009 (Lemon Grove) – Community leaders gathered at the Masjid Usman-Center for Religious Tolerance in Lemon Grove on Saturday to honor Dr. Abdussattar “Sattar” Shaikh, co-founder of the Islamic Center of San Diego. State and city leaders as well as representatives from the Sheriff’s Department and San Diego State University all praised Shaikh’s leadership in fostering multi-cultural understanding and religious tolerance.
“He has helped Muslims from all over the world form a thriving community, even in times of adversity,” said Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil, who organized the event and issued a commendation on behalf of Lemon Grove. “We honor you, Dr. Shaikh, for the love and devotion you have shown to your adopted country. You have touched countless lives."
Candidates for Attorney General and Insurance Commissioner Spoke at Festive Gathering
September 30, 2009 (Lemon Grove) – Dozens of people packed into the Por Favor Restaurant in Lemon Grove Friday night to celebrate the community’s newly formed Spring Valley-Lemon Grove Democratic Club. The new club hosted an impressive array of guest speakers, including two candidates for statewide offices: Attorney General and Insurance Comissioner. The group’s next meeting is slated for Thursday, October 1st. .
“Valley Grove is back,” Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil proclaimed, referring to the area’s former Democratic Club, which disbanded several years ago. But victories by President Barack Obama and local Democratic candidates have revived a surge of interest in Democratic Clubs countywide, prompting Gastil to organize the new club.