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WELLS APPOINTED MAYOR IN EL CAJON, OPENING COUNCIL VACANCY

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2013 (El Cajon )--El Cajon’s City Council voted unanimously yesetrday to appoint Councilman Bill Wells to fill the vacancy left by Mayor Mark Lewis’s resignation.  Council also voted to have an application and list of qualifications drawn up within a week for residents interested in seeking appointment to fill the vacancy on the City Council  left by Wells’ ascension to mayor.

A crowd filled the Council Chambers, with many community members came to voice their views on how the city should fill its leadership positions.

COUNCILMEMBERS ISSUE RESPONSE TO MAYOR LEWIS RESIGNATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2013 (El Cajon)-- El Cajon City Councilmembers Bob McClellan and Tony Ambrose have released an official response to the resignation of former Mayor Mark Lewis on October 24, 2013. Both voiced pride in the community’s diversity , acknowledged that the Mayor’s remarks on minorities were “inappropriate and wrong,” then called for unity in El Cajon.  For the full text of their letter, click here.

In addition, Councilmember Gary Kendrick issued his own letter praising Mayor Lewis on his accomplishments including balanced budgets, economic stability and economic development.   While he joined with  Ambrose and McClellan in making clear that he did not agree with or support Lewis’ controversial comments, he stated, “Mark will always be my friend...”  To read Kendrick’s letter, click here

Kendrick told ECM,” The Mayor Lewis that I knew would never have made those statements before his stroke.”

ARABO CALLS FOR DISTRICT ELECTIONS IN EL CAJON

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 26, 2013 (El Cajon ) –Following the resignation of  El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis for racial remarks, Chaldean community leader Mark Paul Arabo, head of the Neighborhood Markets Association, is calling on Council members to denounce statements by Lewis and further, to implement district elections at the next city council meeting.

Currently, all El Cajon residents vote for all council candidates, with the top vote getters overall winning seats. Under Arabo’s proposal, the city would be divided into districts each electing its own representative-a move that could result in one or more districts with a majority of Iraqi Chaldeans or other minority populations. 

In a press statement, Arabo voiced relief at Lewis’ resignation but added, “We will not stop here.”

EL CAJON'S MAYOR LEWIS RESIGNS

 

October 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned, effective immediately.  In his resignation letter, the Mayor  cited health reasons, including cancer, a dislocated shoulder and a minor stroke in 2010. “Unfortunately at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communication my thoughts, including during the recent interviews  that have caused understandable concern,” he wrote, adding that he is stepping down to avoid further concerns by citizens and to “allow our City Council and community o move forward in their work to make this City the finest place it can be.”

He added, “I deeply love our town and have given a major portion of my adult life to its wellbeing and, so, this is a bittersweet moment for me."

MAYOR LEWIS IN CONTROVERSY OVER COMMENTS ON CHALDEANS

 

Full tape of interview  reveals comments praising Chaldeans in addition to remarks deemed culturally insensitive by cricis

By Miriam Raftery

October 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, a crowd of Irarqi Chaldean community members denounced  remarks made by Mayor Mark Lewis in an interview with Progressive Magazine for an article published in May.  Critics denounce the remarks as insensitive and reinforcing racial stereotypes. 

Supporters say the comments were taken out of context.  An audiotape of the full one-hour interview posted by RawStory in fact reveals many positive statements made by the Mayor about Chaldeans, as well as the remarks that stirred controversy.  Some backers of the Mayor have suggested a financial motive behind the criticism emerging months after the story first ran, noting that a leading critic represents Chaldean store owners chafing under a newly enacted city policy restricting alcohol sales.

EL CAJON APPROVES HOTEL AGREEMENT

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2013 (El Cajon ) – By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council today voted to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement with Excel Hotel Group to develop a Marriott Courtyard hotel at the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Rea Street in the Civic Center block. 

The proposal hinges on the state selling and to the city of El Cajon at the corner of Magnolia and Rea.  The City would then sell the land to Marriott for a dollar and give up a portion of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) for a few years.  At the end of ten years, the city expects to receive enough revenue from property taxes and TOT to repay the city the cost of the land.

“It sweetens the pot for them to spend several million dollars,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine.  He calls the deal a “win-win” for all parties.

QUIETER STREETS? IT'S ALL PART OF NEW PAVING IN EL CAJON

By Janis Mork

April 28, 2013 (El Cajon)- This past Tuesday, Michael Griffiths from the El Cajon Public Works Department gave a PowerPoint presentation to El Cajon City Council about the pavement maintenance program underway since 2006 and set for completion in 2014. City Manager Doug Williford stated that this program affects businesses and residents.

Before Griffiths began, he acknowledged junior engineer Katie Odiorne, who put the PowerPoint slides together. First, he presented a scale of old to new street pavings from 1-100.

SAN DIEGO ARMY ADVISORY COUNCIL’S COMMUNITY SALUTE TO HEROES AND 5K CROSSFIT COMPETITION ON APRIL 6 IN EL CAJON

 

April 3, 2013 (El Cajon) -- The San Diego Army Advisory Council (SDAAC) presents their second-annual, “Community Salute to Heroes: Benefiting First Responders and Military Families,” on Saturday, April 6, from 7:00 a.m. to noon. The occasion is being held at Grossmont High School, located at 1100 Murray Drive, El Cajon.

This special event will include a 5k Crossfit Competition for all age groups. Check-in begins at 7:00 a.m., with races from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The 5K race will include individual competitors as well as teams. Age groups will be (1) under 17, (2) 17 to 24, (3) 25 to 40 and (4) over 40.

At 11 a.m., El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis will receive a special “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his many years in public service.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL PASSES UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF HANSON-COX

By Janis Mork

January 8, 2013 (El Cajon)--By a unanimous vote, El Cajon’s City Council voted to condemn former Councilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox’s embezzlement of funds from her former employer, Century Design. Council also added language to strip Hanson-Cox of any recognitions received from the City.

“Stealing is wrong, no matter what,” said Councilman Gary Kendrick, introducing the resolution. “I want to give an opportunity for the council to collectively and individually condemn her actions…I want to personally say I’m sorry to the Basso family and to what’s happened to them.”

HANSON-COX USED EMBEZZLED FUNDS FOR CAMPAIGN EXPENSES, LAVISH TRIPS FOR CITY EMPLOYEES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2012 (El Cajon ) –The Mother Goose Parade wasn’t the only beneficiary of funds stolen by former El Cajon Councilwoman Jillian Hanson-Cox, who pled guilty to embezzling more than $3.6 million from Century Design, Inc (CDI), her former employer.  

Court documents reveal that she also spent purloined money to hire celebrity impersonators to appear at her campaign fundraiser in 2004. She treated the city’s former Chief of Police to a vacation at a Hawaiian resort hotel. Plus she hosted city public information officer Monica Zech at a Beverly Hills hotel, including manicures and other spa treatments.

EL CAJON ZONED FOR CHICKENS THIS WEEKEND -- AT EL CAJON'S OKTOBERFEST CHICKEN HAT CONTEST THAT IS!

By Rebecca J. Williamson

October 6, 2012 (El Cajon)--El Cajon, indeed, will have chickens in their town – not just in ovens---but on hats! Where?  Oktoberfest -- held this weekend at the German-American Societies of San Diego, Inc. facility on South Mollison.

READER’S EDITORIAL: CAN THE UT FAIRLY COVER EL CAJON’S SCHEME TO TEAR DOWN ECPAC?

 

 By Art Lane
 
April 14, 2012 (El Cajon)--So just how independent will the San Diego Union-Tribune (now reincarnated as the “San Diego U-T”) be when it comes to covering news stories involving local real estate project developers? This whole question may be borne out in El Cajon in coming months, when the city council considers a proposal by Lakeside developer Neal Arthur to raze the historically management-and-fiscally troubled East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) and in its place build a four story, 107 room “luxury” (business class) hotel managed by Courtyard by Marriott.

Citizens have started a website to save the theater at  www.SaveECPAC.org 

EL CAJON COUNCIL VOTES TO FILL COUNCIL VACANCY BY APPOINTMENT WITH NO APPLICATIONS FROM PUBLIC

  By Bill Crotty

March 13, 2012 (El Cajon) – El Cajon City Council approved Mayor Mark Lewis' motion to appoint a replacement for recently-resigned Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Hanson-Cox at yesterday's council meeting, despite numerous community members who asked to be considered for the slot. 

The Mayor has indicated that he intends to choose a replacement, to be approved by Council, and will not accept applications from the public.

EL CAJON TO ASK VOTERS FOR CHARTER CITY STATUS; COUNCIL SEEKS TO “FAST-TRACK” APPROVAL


By Jonathan Goetz

 

October 27, 2011 (El Cajon)--The City of El Cajon may become another in a string of cities to remove itself from the safeguards of state law and give “supreme authority” in municipal affairs to the city council. The measure is touted as a cost-savings step. But in some areas, charter city status has led to abuse and even fleecing of taxpayers—notably in Bell, California.

EAST COUNTY MAYORS REACT TO HOMELESS COUNT FINDINGS

 

By Jeremy Los

 

“This issue has received band-aid approaches to fix it when it needs a tourniquet.” – La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid

 

“We look at them as a resource… they are the eyes and ears of the community… they certainly know when something is going on.” – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis, on the homeless in his town

 

 "I do not feel there needs to be a regional center for the homeless in East County." -- Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom

 

"I am not in the homeless business." - Santee Mayor Randy Voepel

 

April 26, 2011 – Four East County mayors shared their reactions on a new study on the many homeless in our region. Their views differed dramatically on how to address the homeless problem.  In addition, three of the four mayors questioned the study findings and voiced doubts on the numbers of homeless people listed in their cities. 

 

According to the 2011 Point-In-Time Count by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, East County is now home to 8.9% of San Diego County’s homeless population, with El Cajon staking claim to the highest number of homeless people. However, the majority of El Cajon's homeless are in shelters--while in other East County communities, the homeless are living on the streets, in cars, or camped along riverbeds.  

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: THEFT, VANDALISM OF CAMPAIGN SIGNS TAKE NEW TWISTS IN EAST COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery
 

October 24, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – A rash of sign-stealing and defacement has marred the campaign trail in East County communities including Santee, Lakeside, El Cajon. The latest targets are large signs criticizing gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

 

Vandals in Santee cut the name “Meg” out of numerous 4 x 8 foot signs that read: “What’s Meg Hiding? $200 million to buy election; didn’t vote for 28 years; caters to the rich and corporations. What’s her REAL agenda?” ECM photographer Dennis Richardson spotted at least four of the damaged signs this afternoon--and noticed several others had gone missing completely.

KPBS RADIO INTERVIEWS ECM'S EDITOR ON EAST COUNTY'S HOTTEST POLITICAL RACES

 

East County Magazine Editor Miriam Raftery was interviewed on KPBS Radio’s “These Days” program today regarding several East County political races: 77th Assembly, La Mesa Mayor, El Cajon Mayor, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and 52nd Congressional District. Here is a link to the program: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/oct/11/east-county-election-races-heating/
 

Here are links to recent ECM articles with in-depth coverage of the races discussed:

SPOTLIGHT EL CAJON: MAYOR MARK LEWIS SHARES CHALLENGES, GOALS & ACHIEVEMENTS

By Miriam Raftery
 

October 7, 2010 (El Cajon) – Mayor Mark Lewis grew up in El Cajon, served three terms on the Council and is now running for his fourth term as Mayor. “I was on the 75th anniversary committee, and now I look forward to the 100th,” he said, referring to the City’s upcoming centennial in 2012.

5 LOCAL MAYORS JOIN GROWING STATEWIDE OPPOSITION TO PROP 23


Measure backed by 2 big out-of-state oil companies would rollback air pollution standards and repeal incentives for clean, green-tech jobs

La Mesa Council to consider No on 23 resolution on Sept. 14

By Miriam Raftery

September 6, 2010 – La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid and El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis have joined with over 30 cities including Los Angeles and Sacramento, hundreds of business leaders, and many public officials to oppose Proposition 23, the deceptively titled “California Jobs Initiative.”  A whopping 97% of funds come from the oil industry, with most from two large out-of-state oil companies, Valero and Tesoro.

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