El Cajon Council

CLOSE COUNCIL RACE IN EL CAJON; VOTERS APPROVE REDISTRICTING

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2016  (El Cajon) – With 43.6% of precincts counted,  a 10-candidate race for El Cajon City Council is still too close to call. There are three seats up—and currently, two challengers have edged ahead of incumbent Star Bales.

However voters handily approved Measure S, the redistricting proposal to establish district elections.  Measure S  has nearly 69% of the vote with 43.6% of precincts counted.

EL CAJON MAKES PROGRESS ON BUDGET AND HOMELESSNESS, STALLS ON DISTRICT ELECTIONS, REJECTS LOCAL HIRING REQUIREMENTS

 

By Jonathan Goetz     

June 27, 2016 (El Cajon)—Last Tuesday, the City of El Cajon adopted a new annual budget, announced its participation in the East County Homeless Outreach Team and recertified its Property and Business Improvement District.

MAYOR WELLS, COUNCILMAN KENDRICK SCORE STRONG WINS IN EL CAJON

 

 

Photo: Mayor Bill Wells celebrates victory with suporters; photo by Randy Jordan, R. Jordan Photgraphy

By Miriam Raftery and Janis Russell

November 5, 2014 (El Cajon) -- Mayor Bill Wells thumped two opponents to win 81.6% of the vote, winning reelection handily over Allen Theweny and Jonathan Wright.  Councilman Gary Kendrick took over two-thirds of the vote (64.14%) over his opponent, Elwood Alexander.

The incumbents had the benefit of an improving economy and new policies such as the city's outreach to car dealers to bring more revenues to El Cajon, a city with the county's highest poverty rate.  El Cajon's leaders have also had success in healing relations with the city's large Iraqi Chaldean population, with Mayor Wells speaking out publicly in support of bringing persecuted Christian Chaldean refugees to El Cajon.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY VOTES TO MOVE FORWARD ON ROCK CHURCH LEASE OF ECPAC, BUILD 2ND FACILITY ON CITY LAND FOR SHARED USE

 

 

Opponents voice constitutional concerns over deal, file a  Grand Jury complaint

By Janis Russell

August 13, 2014 (El Cajon)-- At yesterday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, members voted 4-0 to move forward with discussions on a partnership between the East County Performing Arts Center and the Rock Church. Pro Tem Mayor Gary Kendrick recused himself from this agenda item because of a “financial conflict of interest.”

The proposal drew strong support from church members and local business interests, but garnered strong opposition from some arts supporters and citizens concerned over constitutional issues.  Today, Karen Marie Otter, an El Cajon resident and former Congressional candidate, informed East County Magazine that she has sent a letter of complaint to the County Grand Jury asserting that she believes the deal violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, which requires separation of church and state.

EL CAJON COUNCIL VOTES TO PROCEED WITH MARRIOTT HOTEL DOWNTOWN

 

By Janis Russell

July 9, 2014 (El Cajon)- At yesterday’s city council meeting, with Councilmember Tony Ambrose absent, El Cajon’s City Council voted 4-0 to approve a conditional use permit and exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Marriott El Cajon Courtyard hotel to be built downtown on urban infill property.

“This is special to the city,” City Manager Doug Williford  said, then provided background. In Spring 2012 the Council held a special workshop on two interrelated topics: a hotel and the East Count Performing Arts Center(ECPAC).

EL CAJON COUNCIL REJECTS HOMEOWNERS’ PLEAS FOR RELEIF FROM WEED ABATEMENT FEES , BUT GRANTS SALES TAX RELIEF TO CAR DEALER

 

Residents question high cost of weed cutting by private contractor

By Grey Feathers

June 24, 2014 El Cajon – The City Council of El Cajon considered issues from a retired police dog to hookah lounges as Mayor Bill Wells gaveled in Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilmember Star Bales displayed items purchased at the El Cajon ‘America on Main Street’ event that she will proudly wear at the Fourth of July celebration at Kennedy Park (photo, left). The Council then voted to retire and release ownership of El Cajon Police dog “Turbo” to Officer Thompson, Turbo’s experienced and sole handler.  Happy retirement Turbo!

The longest discussion of the meeting concerned filing liens on properties of owners who owe money to the City for weed abatement, mandatory trash service and sidewalk repair. The staff recommendation was to authorize the City Clerk to record the amount owed as a lien on the property  and forward the list to the County Tax Assessor for billing on the owner’s next property tax bill.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL APPOINTS INSTAR BALES TO FILL VACANT CITY COUNCIL SEAT

Instar "Star" Bales takes oath of office, alongside her husband, Gerald

By Janis Mork

December 19, 2013 (El Cajon)- At Tuesday’s El Cajon City Council meeting, Council appointed InStar Bales, an Iraqi Chaldean woman who has served on the planning commission, to fill the Council vacancy after interviewing 27 candidates.

After the meeting, Bales told ECM that she is “very honored” to be chosen.  “When Councilman Bob McClellan said my name, I cried a little bit,” admitted Bales, whose integrity and willigness to stand up against special interests as a planning commission member were key factors in Council's decision to select her.

EL CAJON COUNCIL TO INTERVIEW CANDIDATES FOR VACANCY ON DECEMBER 10

 

December 5, 2013 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council received 27 applications for the currently vacant councilmember position. The application period closed yesterday 

The City Council is scheduled to interview applicants in Council chambers at the 7:00 p.m. Council meeting on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

A list of applicants is below.

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.

EL CAJON COUNCIL POSTPONES ECPAC NAME CHANGE

  

Kaboom! and New City Seal/Logo/Motto in works

By Janis Mork

October 11, 2013 (El Cajon)- At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mark Lewis made a request to rename East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) to El Cajon Performing Arts Center. Lewis insisted, “Now is the time to name it, because we’re in El Cajon..”

At the suggestion of Mayor Pro Tem Bill Wells, however, Council opted to delay a decision until mid-2014, when a manager for ECPAC is expected to be in place.

THE SHOWS WILL GO ON: EL CAJON COUNCIL BACKS FUNDS TO REOPEN ECPAC

 

Update June 21, 2013: The Council's final vote, originally scheduled for July 25, has been postponed to July 9 due to a key staffer's vacation schedule.

By Miriam Raftery

June 20, 2013 (El Cajon ) – The El Cajon City Council has allotted $2.8 million in its budget to restore and reopen the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC)  next summer, Councilman Gary Kendrick told ECM.  “I proposed  that we open up the performing arts center and everyone was on board with that. We’re out of the great recession,” he added. “This is a time to do great things for the city.”

The money  set aside and will be available as of July 1, 2013,”said Kendrick.   Council voted unanimously for a preliminary budget with the ECPAC funding and will take a final vote on Tuesday, July 9.  “People interested in the performing arts center should definitely come for Tuesday’s meeting.”

EDITORIAL: TIME FOR LEADING PLAYERS TO TAKE ACTION TOWARD REOPENING EAST COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

April 23, 2013 (El Cajon) – This afternoon, the spotlight will shine on the El Cajon City Council as it considers whether to enter into discussions with the Grossmont Union High School District on a potential partnership to reopen the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC).  The plan potentially could also including building a state-of-the-art, multi-use facility adjacent to ECPAC, filling a community need for meeting space as well as an additional entertainment venue to create a broader cultural hub for the community.

It’s time for city leaders to take center stage and provide leadership to reopen ECPAC, the jewel of East County’s cultural community.  Shuttered in disrepair for several years, the darkened theater has negatively impacted businesses downtown as well as arts lovers across our region. 

A partnership with the school district could be a win-win situation, though there are challenges that must be explored and overcome.

EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL TO ADDRESS ITS RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM AT MEETING TOMORROW

By Janis Mork

February 11, 2013 (El Cajon)- Tomorrow’s El Cajon Council will consider an agenda introduced by Pro Tem Mayor Bill Wells regarding the city’s red light camera program, which has been in effect since 1996 (see http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20051216/news_1m16red1.html).

The agenda item, if approved, would direct the city manager to bring back information on the program, including information on possibly ending it. It’s also been recommended that the city council set an advisory meeting for 2 p.m. on March 12 and an information session at 7 p.m. the same day to hear public opinions.

EL CAJON COUNCIL AGENDA TUESDAY INCLUDES RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN ACTIONS OF JILLIAN HANSON-COX & PROPOSAL TO BUY SURPLUS PROPERTY FROM CAL-TRANS

By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2013 (El Cajon) – At its meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at 3 p.m., El Cajon’s City Council will consider a resolution to condemn the actions of Jillian Hanson-Cox in embezzling at least $3.5 million from her former employer, Century Design.

In addition, Council will consider a proposal to buy surplus property from Cal-Trans for $299,500 and weigh a recommendation to pay $662,000 in a promissory note to act as the successor agency to the former El Cajon Redevelopment Agency. 

Council’s agenda will also include an ordinance to provide more flexibility for signage downtown and an ordinance to revise the zoning code. In addition, Council will hear an appeal of a planning commission decision to deny a permit for alcohol sales to the Magnolia Family Market at 112 East Madison Avenue.

BACK TO ITS ROOTS: EL CAJON APPROVES COMMUNITY GARDENS AND CHICKEN OWNERSHIP

Elf visit, BMW dealership, and Hanson-Cox support letters also hot topics at council meeting

By Miriam Raftery and Janis Mork

December 13, 2012 (El Cajon) – “We’re going back to our roots in El Cajon, because this was agricultural community,” Councilman Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine after the El Cajon Council unanimously approved both community gardens and chicken ownership for city residents. 

Kendrick noted that the El Cajon valley was the grape-growing capital of the United States before Prohibition and orange groves once occupied the hillsides.  “There is great soil on the valley floor,” he said, adding that residents will now be able to grow fresh vegetables on numerous vacant lots in the community.

TWO INCUMBENTS WIN HANDILY IN EL CAJON; THIRD SEAT STILL IN CONTENTION AS REGISTRAR COUNTS REMAINING ABSENTEE AND PROVISIONAL BALLOTS

Update November 8, 2012,  5 p.m.:  McClellan's lead has grown to over 600 votes, making it appear likely that he has secured reelection.

November 8, 2012 (El Cajon) – Councilmen Tony Ambrose and Bill Wells  appear to have won reelection to the El Cajon City Council, while Councilman Bob McClellan retains a slim 114-vote lead over challenger Ben Kalasho. The Registrar of Voters still has 475,000 absentee and provisional ballots left countywide to count.  Asked how many are in El Cajon, the Registrar’s office declined to provide that information but said updates will be posted daily at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/voters/results/election.xml. The election must be certified by December 4, meaning close races could take weeks before a final outcome will be know.

COULD GRAND JURY PROBE INTO GUHSD BOND MONIES EXTEND TO COUNCILMAN BILL WELLS?

Update: February 13, 2013:  Councilman Wells indicates that three months after this story ran, he has not been contacted by a Grand Jury and believes that he is not a target of the investigation. 

By Miriam Raftery

November 5, 2012 (El Cajon ) – Updated November 6, 2012 -- Three people, including two members of the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) board, have confirmed that a Grand Jury is investigating why money from Prop H and Prop U was not used to fund a new high school in Alpine as mandated by the bond language.  

El Cajon Councilman Bill Wells chaired the Prop H Citizens Bond Oversight Committee  (CBOC) and according to multiple witnesses, played a lead role in killing plans to build the district’s 12th high school in Alpine.

WHO POSTED MISLEADING HIT PIECE IN EL CAJON COUNCIL RACE?

November 5, 2012 (El Cajon) -- An anonymous Facebook ad attacking three El Cajon councilmembers and another candidate has been taken down--but not before hurling blatant falsehoods and misrepresentations into cyberspace.

The ad included an unauthorized use of the City's official seal with a message claiming that the E l Cajon City Council has been involved in "lies, cheats, scandals and much more."  A letter from the city attorney indicates such misuse for purposes of distortion is a felony.

ONE STOP SHOP FOR EL CAJON VOTERS: FULL COVERAGE OF COUNCIL CANDIDATES

October 10, 2012 (El Cajon)--Eight candidates are vying for three seats on the El Cajon City Council in a hotly contested race: incumbents Tony Ambrose, Bob McClellan and Bill Wells and challengers Ben Kalasho, Lily Schworm, Kathy Spacone, Chris Shamoon and Duane Swainston.

ECM invited all candidates to be interviewed; six responded.  Below are our in-depth interviews with candidates, listed in alphabetical order. In addition, here are links to coverage of a candidate forum, as well as candidates’ websites and Smart Voter pages from the League of Women Voters, prior stories on candidates who ran before, and additional news stories.

EL CAJON COUNCIL CANDIDATE CHRIS SHAMOON WANTS TO MAKE JOBS, EDUCATION AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES HIS PRIORITIES

By Miriam Raftery

“Fix the poverty rate and schools, then long term we will have a great city.” – Chris Shamoon

October 2, 2012 (El Cajon )—Chris Shamoon has big dreams for El Cajon. A successful business owner and recent law school graduate, Shamoon says he was approached by local business owners to run for El Cajon City Council. His platform extends far beyond the business community, as he seeks to represent needs of all people in the city—and tackle head-on the root causes of poverty, health and education problems dismissed by some candidates as unsolvable or not the role of the city to address.

Shamoon, one of seven candidates vying for three seats on the Council, shared his vision in an exclusive interview with ECM.

EL CAJON FORUM DOMINATED BY BUSINESS CLIMATE DISCUSSION

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Tom Abbott

October 4, 2012 (El Cajon)--The candidate forum in El Cajon last night was moderated by Dona Bartlett-May, Co-President of the League of Women Voters.

Given the issues at stake, and the charges of sign stealing recently leveled by more than one candidate, I expected a charged atmosphere. Instead we were greeted by a very business-like and relaxed atmosphere—offering hope that winners in this race will find ways to set aside past conflicts and work together for the betterment of El Cajon.

The candidates-- three incumbents (Bill Wells, Bob McClellan and Tony Ambrose) and the challengers (Kathy Spacone, Ben Kalasho, Chris Shamoon, Lily Schworm and Duane Swainston) were ready for the task at hand.

CONDO CONVERSIONS, PENSION LIABILITIES ARE PRIORITIES FOR EL CAJON COUNCILMAN MCCLELLAN

"The more rental units we convert, the more demographics will change." -- Councilman Bob McClellan

By Miriam Raftery

October 2, 2012 (El Cajon)—For 20 years, Bob McClellan has been serving on the El Cajon City Council.  He’s now seeking re-election, one of seven candidates vying for three seats. In an exclusive interview with ECM, McClellan reflects on his accomplishments through the years as well as his goals for the future.

EL CAJON CANDIDATES' FORUM WED. OCTOBER 3

October 2, 2012 (El Cajon)--The League of Women Voters of San Diego will sponsor and moderate a forum for candidates running for three seats on the El Cajon City Council.  The forum will be held on October 3, 2012 from 7 to 9 pm in the Public Safety Room located in the El Cajon Policy Department at 100 Civic Center Way, El Cajon. 

Invited candidates include Tony Ambrose, Ben Kalasho, W. E. “Bob” McClellan, Emily “Lily” Schworm, Christopher Shamoon, Kathy Spacone, Duane Swainston, and Bill Wells. This is the public’s opportunity to ask the candidates questions regarding issues of concern. 

DUANE SWAINSTON SEEKS TO BRING “NEW IDEAS, A NEW FOCUS AND NEW ENERGY” TO EL CAJON CITY COUNCIL

Swainston is one of four challengers and three incumbents running for El Cajon City Council.

By Miriam Raftery

September 15, 2012 (El Cajon) – Duane Swainston wants to end the “good ole boy” network on El Cajon’s City Council.  “There seem to be a lot of back room deals and not enough transparency where people know what’s going on,” he says of the current council members. 

Swainston aims to bring his 16 years of experience in management at private sector manufacturing companies  to the job as councilmember if elected.   He holds a degree in business management and has worked for two of El Cajon’s largest employerse, Senior Aerospace Ketema and GKN Aerospace Chem-Tronics. 

“It’s a cost-conscious, schedule-dominant world focused on quality,” he told ECM in an exclusive interview.  “If you’re not doing things faster, better, cheaper, then you’re getting bypassed by your competition.”

BEN KALASHO SEEKS TO BRING VOICE OF DIVERSITY, BUSINESS SAVVY TO EL CAJON COUNCIL

Three incumbents and four challengers are vying for three seats on the El Cajon City Council. ECM has requested interviews with each. Below is the first in our series of in-depth candidate profiles.


By Miriam Raftery


September 6, 2012 (El Cajon)—Earlier this year, when a vacancy opened on the El Cajon Council due to a resignation, the Councilmembers refused to accept applications from the public – including an Iraqi Chaldean immigrant and an African-American woman who wanted the job. Instead, they appointed an insider like themselves--a white male, who served on Planning Commission. 


To Ben Kalasho, that action exemplifies what’s wrong in El Cajon –and why  the Council needs people from diverse backgrounds.

ECPAC FOUNDATION MAKES ITS CASE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2012 (El Cajon)– At a press conference on June 22, members of the new ECPAC Foundation provided details to media on their proposal to reopen the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) in time for the city’s centennial celebration in November.

Leaders presented City Manager Doug Williford with their 60-page plan in a meeting that extended from a planned 10-15 minutes to an hour and a half.  Foundation members expressed optimism, noting that Williford asked many questions and showed genuine interest in plans to revive the theater with innovative and cost-effective improvements.

ECPAC SAVED! EL CAJON COUNCIL REJECTS PLAN TO TEAR DOWN THEATER AND BUILD HOTEL ON SITE

Update May 28, 2012 with a video news report by Paul Kruz, exclusive to East County Magazine, including interviews with the developer and Councilman Wells:

 

By Janis Mork and Miriam Raftery

May 23, 2012 (El Cajon)--El Cajon Council drew applause yesterday when by a unanimous decision, Council members rejected a proposal to tear down the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) and build a hotel on the site.

Instead, Council agreed to work with community members and a newly formed ECPAC Foundation to reopen the theater long heralded as a centerpiece of El Cajon's downtown revitalization. 

 

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