Oceanside Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forums 2012
Last month, the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce along with the Business and Community Political Action Committee held a series of candidates forums in order to provide our chamber members and community at large the opportunity to hear from our candidates. The forums were sponsored by MiraCosta College and featured candidates for the following positions: Oceanside Mayor, Oceanside City Council, Tri-City Health Care District, MiraCosta College Board of Trustees.
Please Note: Responses to questions are paraphrased summaries of the candidates responses to our questions. These are not direct quotes.
City of Oceanside Mayoral Candidate Forum
September 13, 2012
GENERAL QUESTIONS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
Water is highly valued and essential to life itself. Last year Governor Brown vetoed SB 833, which would have stopped Gregory Canyon Landfill. There are people in Oceanside who object to the Gregory Canyon landfill, which they see as a real threat to Oceanside's drinking water. Where do you stand on the Gregory Canyon Landfill and is it a done deal?
JIM WOOD: The decision was outright wrong. Water is our most valuable commodity. Water rates are up. Who in their right mind would put a landfill by a water source. The landfill is too close to our water source. One leak could wipe out a large part of our water supply. When the election was held to vote on this, inaccurate information was given to the voters.
JERRY KERN: The Governor was right to veto the bill. It was a “gut and amend” bill and I opposed the bill because of how it was done. The County voters twice approved the project. The City of Oceanside voters approved it once. The voters want a new landfill. We have to do something with our trash. I listen to the voters.
TERRY JOHNSON: That is a good question for those who live downstream. When I was Mayor, the Council voted 5-0 to oppose the landfill. Why in a desert would you put a landfill on a water source. It doesn’t make sense. There is too much potential pollution.
There has been a great deal of talk recently about ‘outsourcing’ functions currently performed by City staff such as fleet maintenance, street sweeping, tree trimming, ambulance service and even police and fire services to private local businesses in the area. What do you see as the role of this type of outsourcing in the future of Oceanside?
JIM WOOD: I am not in favor of outsourcing. I say no to outsourcing important City services. There is no real improvement in service. Contract workers won’t respond after-hours. Outsourcing brings lesser quality of service. Life saving issues need to be with the City.
JERRY KERN: We are in the service delivery business. Waste collection is a good example of outsourcing. It used to be done by City employees and now it is done by Waste Management. We need to evaluate outsourcing function-by-function on a case-by-case basis. We would need to ensure the same level of service as we save money. Street sweeping is something we could look at.
TERRY JOHNSON: Oceanside is in trouble financially. We are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. I can remember back on the Council when City staff told us we could not sustain the cost of public safety salaries and benefits. We need the unions to renegotiate their contracts.
If you had a perceived ‘quality of life’ issue facing you where your decision will benefit the residents of the City as a whole, but will negatively influence/impact a specific neighborhood, how will you balance those interests?
JIM WOOD: I cannot answer the question without knowing specifics. We have to look at what is best for the people asking for it. An example was vacancy decontrol. That was mean spirited. The Morro Hills zone change from agricultural is a bad idea. We have to look at the neighborhood over the whole City.
JERRY KERN: We are here to represent and benefit every person in Oceanside. It is never either/or for me. You need to make decisions based on the greatest benefit for the greatest number.
TERRY JOHNSON: I have been in Oceanside 60 years. I am disappointed in how fast we have grown. We need to find a balance. I don’t want to pave over all the grass. We have several issues---Melrose and RDO---we need to put to rest and focus on the people where they live.
Which decision you made when you were a member of the City Council do you most regret and why?
JIM WOOD: I regret that I was unable to influence the rest of the Council to keep all our City employees. The citizens of the City want services. Letting people go means lesser services.
JERRY KERN: I regret the decision I made when I was new to the Council in support of staff recommended employee benefits. The vote was 4-1 and Councilmember Feller rightly voted against it. That vote has contributed to the mess we have now. We do now have a two-tiered pension system.
TERRY JOHNSON: Services take money. I regret the 1999 decision on the downtown hotel of Manchester vs. Catellus. I supported Catellus. Carol McCauley walked away from the dais and at the next meeting Manchester won 3-1. It was a bad decision.
Recently a 24 hour convenience store was looking to occupy a building on Coast Highway that had previously been a grocery store. This new business would have created a number of new jobs. However, there was significant political pressure from the surrounding residents to block this project. How would you balance these interests?
JIM WOOD: It was going into one of our better neighborhoods. It was a 24-hour store with liquor. People come first. I would sympathize with the surrounding neighbors regarding concerns about alcohol sales.
JERRY KERN: That project divided the Planning Commission. It was a business coming in. There will always be push back from neighbors. Fresh and Easy is an example of that. You just have to work through the issues and mitigate the negative impacts.
TERRY JOHNSON: I would take in traffic and noise impacts. I would want to see how many of the same businesses already exist. I probably would have voted against it.
As Mayor of the Oceanside City Council, what would be the primary thing you would like to accomplish? And, how will you achieve it?
JIM WOOD: No mayor has a solution for the economy. We need to bring jobs and business to Oceanside. We need to work with others such as the Chamber, MainStreet and the County to bring in jobs.
JERRY KERN: I will be the Mayor of the entire City. Number one is to bring in jobs and expand our tax base. We argue about money because we have so little of it. I have been working with the County to bring in jobs to Oceanside and to the region.
TERRY JOHNSON: To establish reasonable civility. We need to eliminate the polarized partisan politics and bring in a sense of stability. We need less polarization on the Council. We have five people on the Council that disagree and get really ugly. This creates uncertainty and investors don’t like uncertainty. We need campaign reform. We need pension reform.
During our recent forum for the candidates for Oceanside City Council the two incumbent candidates had differing opinions on the crime rate in our City. One stated that the crime was the lowest it has been in 30 years and the other said it was up about 5%. What is your assessment of the crime rate in Oceanside and what do you think it says about our City?
Crime rate assessment (answers recorded on index cards)
JIM WOOD: Up 10%
JERRY KERN: Up 4%
TERRY JOHNSON: Up 5%
According to the City of Oceanside Police Department website, the correct answer is an approximately 7% increase.
JIM WOOD: We need to give priority to bringing down the crime rate. It is up 10% over last year. It was down and then it is back up again over last years. This is due to the State of California and the County relocation/releasing prisoners where parole offices are and we have one. Due to budget cuts we have 12 fewer police officers.
JERRY KERN: Crime is up about 4%. This is the third month property crime is up. Much of it is due to the State and County relocation/release of prisoners into the community when they cannot keep them locked up.
TERRY JOHNSON: Crime is on the rise. The residential areas are okay. The downtown and the beach see an element that we worked so hard to eliminate in the 1990’s. We need more of a police presence.
What does eminent domain mean to you and how do you see it being used to achieve the Melrose extension.
JIM WOOD: I don’t support taking of personal property. It is wrong. They want to take homes to do Melrose.
JERRY KERN: You don’t take land from one group and give it to others. Eminent domain is about taking property for public benefit. It is for public use. Without true eminent domain, we can’t get new roads. I would not support it for other use. Mayor Wood voted for eminent domain when on SANDAG.
TERRY JOHNSON: Eminent domain is the taking of private property. It happens in this case where the owners are not in agreement. It serves no good for residents. The money is not there to do the Melrose extension.
The main roadway (Coast Highway), which fronts City Hall, is flanked by vacant storefronts; non family-friendly businesses; and is a generally unkempt area. Many first-time visitors to our City often develop this as their first impression to our community. Considering that we have one of the finest beaches on the West Coast, as well as wonderful attractions such as the Oceanside Museum of Art; the historic Star Theatre and the Sunshine Brooks all within a block or two of City Hall, what importance do you place on upgrading this area, and how do you think the City can help?
JIM WOOD: We are already going in the right direction. I have hope for this economy. Things are coming in. Partnerships are important. Businesses are waiting for the right time.
JERRY KERN: I am keenly aware of downtown issues as I walk the downtown every day. Businesses there are holding on by their fingernails. Things are happening but they are not happening as fast as we want. There are lots of new businesses like the Tin Fish.
TERRY JOHNSON: All those good things happened during my tenure and that of Dick Lyon. We also enhanced the gateway. We need to continue those policies.
In 60 seconds, what question do you wish we would have asked you.
JIM WOOD: Who do you support for Council? We need a different Council. I support Dana Corso and Esther Sanchez. I support Jerry Salyer for City Clerk.
JERRY KERN: About the downtown issue. Things are happening. We are opening a new hotel. We have 1010 Mission Avenue. The Mission Avenue improvements are pending a County grant.
TERRY JOHNSON: How did the Manchester hotel project happen? The Manchester deal was not my fault. I support Catellus. But the Betty Harding and I were going to vote in favor of Catellus and Carol McCauley left the dais so we could not proceed. By the next time we met, Betty had changed her mind and Dick Lyon was there and Manchester was in. I helped get Manchester out-of-town.
SPECIFIC QUESTIONS EACH CANDIDATE
In your ballot statement, you said that in your previous role as mayor, you ‘brought jobs and credibility to Oceanside’. In light of the current economic situation, what ideas do you have t do you have to generate jobs in Oceanside?
That is a valid question in the times we face. Dick Lyon, Carol McCauley, Betty Harding, Colleen O’Harra and I had six years as the same stable Council. We had the greatest economic growth and prosperity. While we had disagreements, we kept them in private and reached consensus. This ability is seriously lacking in today’s council. Investors want stability.
In your ballot statement, you state that you will ‘Terminate Polarized Partisan Politics’. How will you do this?
It won’t be easy with the dynamics of the present Council. The Council has individuals who really dislike each other. We need to represent all the residents and work together. I will be free of all the incivility and backbiting. It is critical that we restore civility and pride so investors feel they can trust Oceanside.
You indicated, in your ballot statement, that in the past you have been ‘the principal supporter of legislation to reduce fees and regulations on our citizens and businesses to promote economic growth and job opportunities’. Which fees and regulations would you target to promote job opportunities in Oceanside?
One would be doing away with the under grounding fee requirements for small single lot developers who want to enhance their property. We have also deferred the payment of impact fees until the end of the project. They still have to pay them by the time of final occupancy when the impact occurs.
In your ballot statement you describe yourself as a thoughtful leader, and decision-maker. What is the toughest decision you have had to make as a Councilmember? Why was it difficult? And, what was the result.
They are all tough. People are on both sides for and against. We need lots of information. I go out and gather all the facts. I supported changing the lobbying ordinance to something more practical when the City Clerk told us the current ordinance was costing the City $60,000 per year. We still have an ordinance in place but it is less costly. When I was new to the Council, I voted for the 2.7% enhanced retirement recommended by staff and I probably should not have.
In your ballot statement, you spoke about ‘enhancing our downtown area for our use and to attract visitors’. Since money seems to be in short supply in Oceanside, how will you go about doing that?
That is a touch question in this economy. We need to educate stores and residents that we have done a lot in the downtown. We need to look outside without spending money. We have a lot of partnerships with the Chamber and MainStreet. We’ve changed and improved our image. We are selling Oceanside for what it is and that is bringing in new business. We have new hotels and more sand on our beaches
You stated in your ballot statement that you believe that the ‘transparency of government should be returned’. Where do you think this is missing and what specific ideas do you have to bring it back?
We are all busy with our own lives. It is important for the citizens to know what’s going on and not just by going to Council meetings. I brought the Lobbyist Ordinance to the City. It is important to know who is paying those people the Council deals with.
City of Oceanside City Council Candidate Forum
September 6, 2012
GENERAL QUESTIONS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
What percentage of the buildings on Coast Highway from the Lagoon to Harbor Drive do you believe are vacant. (Answers recorded on index cards.)
JACK FELLER: 15%
DANA CORSO: 20%
ESTHER SANCHEZ: 15%
CHIP DYKES: 18%
DAVID ZERNIK: 10%
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: 29%
DONALD SNYDER: 30%
The correct answer is 22%.
If you were a new business considering a relocation to one of San Diego's North Coastal communities, why should you make Oceanside your first choice?
JACK FELLER: We have improved the City process toward business. The City process is now fair and friendlier toward business. We have great opportunity for business. We have to rely on the City Council and staff to create a “want to be here” atmosphere and help to get them through the process.
DANA CORSO: Oceanside is large town with a small town feel. We have a great Chamber of Commerce. The Mayor works for the citizens. We have a high quality of life. We have good public safety and low crime.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: Oceanside is a diamond in the rough. I would want them to know that it was a City I want to live in. The crime rate is the lowest in 30 years. We have a good beach, a good business community, good parks, good people and good schools.
CHIP DYKES: I would look at Oceanside and compare it to other San Diego County cities. We have a beach, airport, museum, mission and a vibrant downtown. It is a great time to come to Oceanside!
DAVID ZERNIK: Oceanside is wonderful! Camp Pendleton is nearby with tons of jobs. We have great weather, great waves and the best people. But, there are too many homeless and too much joblessness. We have an increased crime rate and we need to take action to reduce crime. We need to encourage new business by making it easier.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: We have great diversity—ethnically, racially and culturally. We are an upper middle class community. We are close to Camp Pendleton. However, our crime rate is up by 5% in a new report.
DONALD SNYDER: Oceanside would NOT be my first choice. We have paid parking downtown. Carlsbad has the business and Oceanside let other business go. Oceanside has said “no” to too many opportunities in the past. I would look at all the empty storefronts and decide not to open a business in Oceanside.
There has been a great deal of talk recently about ‘outsourcing’ functions currently performed by City staff such as fleet maintenance, street sweeping, tree trimming, ambulance service and even police and fire services to private businesses in the area. What do you see as the role of this type of outsourcing in the future of Oceanside?
JACK FELLER: I would not outsource public safety. Everything is not cut and dry. Public/private partnerships may be a better term for what we need. The Harbor is an enterprise fund that might work with outsourcing. Pension benefits are our biggest problem.
DANA CORSO: I don’t believe in outsourcing. I want to keep all the jobs in Oceanside. Outsourcing costs more money than City staff.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: We have recently cut 150 staff members. Outsourcing makes sense only if service would be better or the same. Outsourcing will reduce the quality of service. I would never outsource fire and police.
CHIP DYKES: I would never outsource public safety, regionalizing some services are worth considering. But I won’t talk about “outsourcing”. I talk about public/private partnerships. If the City can’t afford the service, we may need to look at public/private partnerships to save money.
DAVID ZERNIK: The feedback from the Council should match performance of staff in each department. Generally, I oppose outsourcing.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: Outsourcing is a complex issue. It depends on “threats” of the State reductions in funding which will put us in a crunch. We don’t want to break employment contacts with City employees. We can contract out non-critical care ambulance services.
DONALD SNYDER: I don’t support it because outsourcing costs more money than you think it will. I don’t see any savings.
If you had a perceived ‘quality of life’ issue facing you where your decision will benefit the residents of the City as a whole, but will negatively influence/impact a specific neighborhood, how will you balance those interest?
JACK FELLER: The greater good of 180,000 citizens trumps most of the issues that come along. I am for open roads and less government.
DANA CORSO: I would get citizen input and look at environmental issues, City requirements and then make the best decision. I would work out issues with the neighborhood.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: I don’t think any decision affects only one neighborhood. Every decision affects us all. Each neighborhood has a right to maintain its quality of life. We need to talk about it and adjust to address the community needs.
CHIP DYKES: You need to be a leader and I would take an active leadership role. I would meet with the negatively affected neighborhood. I would show them how they can benefit also. You can’t leave them out in the cold.
DAVID ZERNIK: Everyone need to be listened to. I would look for ways to mitigate the negative neighborhood issues. I would build consensus. Oceanside has lots of potential
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: I will decide for the majority, but look for alternatives to help the minority. I had to do that with a public transportation issue to cut service for a small minority to benefit the majority.
DONALD SNYDER: If it’s good for 90% of the City I would try to get the other 10% on board. If it is good for everybody else, I can’t figure out what would not be good for a small percentage.
As a member of the Oceanside City Council, what would be the primary thing you would like to accomplish? And, how will you achieve it?
JACK FELLER: We need less government in all our lives. We need to bring in new projects and new ideas. Government needs to get out of the way. I am excited about the streamlining we are doing. It will make it easier to do business. I am concerned that crime is up in Oceanside.
DANA CORSO: We need to put people first. Feller, Kern and Felien favor developers and large businesses. We need to protect our best resources.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: I am excited to be in a position to change policies that were against Oceanside. We need for focus on our residents. We need to protect our quality of life. We need to bring in more business. We need to stop changing commercial property to residential.
CHIP DYKES: We need to bring decorum to how we run the City. We need discipline in our speech and how we conduct ourselves. The Council needs to set an example for staff. I am not for the right side or the left side but for Oceanside.
DAVID ZERNIK: I like what Jimmy and Chip had to say. We need to improve our city, lower water bills, have affordable housing, help the homeless and support the arts. We need more jobs. We need to encourage a government that helps and supports people.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: We need to eliminate the bickering, acrimony and in-fighting. We need a new attitude of compromise and working together. The majority on the Council shifts and the boat moves back and forth but does not move forward.
DONALD SNYDER: I want to help. We need to get back to fiscal responsibility. We need to create jobs. We need Council members who do not bicker.
What does eminent domain mean to you and how do you see it being used to achieve the Melrose extension.
JACK FELLER: Eminent domain is the taking of private property for public use. I believe we will have “friendly condemnations” for the Melrose extension.
DANA CORSO: Eminent domain is awful. It is not appropriate for Melrose. No one wants it and it is fiscally irresponsible.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: Eminent domain is the forceful taking of property from people. We should not be doing that. It takes 4 out of 5 of the Council voting for eminent domain. The Melrose extension will not increase the flow of traffic. I am opposed to it.
CHIP DYKES: Eminent domain is the government taking of property for the greater good. I am a property rights fan. We need people to agree to sell their property and compensate them.
DAVID ZERNIK: I supported the Melrose extension when I first heard about it. But I changed my mind because the Melrose extension will demolish warehouses. I don’t support the extension but I support road construction in general.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: Eminent domain is taking of property for the good of the public. The Melrose extension will not benefit Oceanside.
DONALD SNYDER: Eminent domain is the taking of something by force. We don’t need to do it. The Melrose extension will not help traffic.
In 60 seconds, what question do you wish we would have asked you.
JACK FELLER: How have I helped development? I have supported good development such as Morro Hills, the Wyndam timeshare, the train underpass and the Terraces all of which have helped the City’s bottom line.
DANA CORSO: How can I help your campaign? You can campaign for me.
ESTHER SANCHEZ: Why am I good for business? I have been a moderator on the Council. I have reached out to business. I brought the Museum of Art, the senior center and Google maps to Oceanside.
CHIP DYKES: What about City commissions? City commissions are vital to how the City conducts business. They need to be diverse in their membership. Elected officials need to trust what the commissions bring you.
DAVID ZERNIK: What is the potential of Oceanside? We need to increase the potential of Oceanside. The cornerstone is in increasing recreation by expanding parks. We need more jobs and more investments.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT: What about our corridor plans? There have been many corridor plans that we have spent money on that have been shelved for years with no action. We need to set up commissions of citizens to get the plans done. The citizens are the authorities.
DONALD SNYDER: Why are you running? I want to do something. I taught martial arts in a resource center that closed because of budget cuts. Kids need a place to go.
SPECIFIC QUESTIONS EACH CANDIDATE
In your ballot statement, you indicated that ‘the private sector is the ultimate job creator’. What specifically will you do to about attracting the private sector to create more jobs in Oceanside?
The private sector handles most of the job creation. Government was not created to create jobs. We need economic development and to court business to come to Oceanside. We need to bring in hotels and biotech. We need to take advantage of every opportunity. We have been too many years on the back burner.
Your ballot statement reads, ‘we should enhance the needs of the community and make our wonderful city a business friendly environment. With the right legislation and limited government control, Oceanside will prosper.’ How do you propose that governmental control be limited?
We need to ensure that City staff knows that the elected officials “have their back”. This way they can do their job unencumbered and create better service. We need to build confidence of the City staff. We need to eliminate redundant permitting systems.
The most pronounced issue in your ballot statement is to CREATE JOBS. You speak of providing incentive investment opportunities for our citizens. What kind of investment opportunities do you have in mind to accomplish this?
Lots of people want to invest in Oceanside. Our City has a line of people wanting a building permit. The City makes it too hard to get permits. I would make it easier.
In your ballot statement, you mentioned a group called ACTION, of which you were president two years ago. You stated that you united 42 neighborhoods. Which neighborhoods were included in the 42? How were they united?
I started two years ago with Jefferies Ranch. Councilmember Sanchez and Mayor Wood helped develop the organization. I met with other groups down at City Hall who were unhappy. People were concerned about building heights, harbor fees, the mobile home communities and defeating Proposition E and F.
JAMES “JIMMY” KNOTT:
You indicated in your ballot statement that we should ‘decentralize City Government’. What do you mean by decentralize City Government?
There is too much power making decisions on downtown issues and ignoring communities to the East. A few in the community get all the money and benefit. We need to have central townships within the City. We need to empower each community with “mini councils” or planning committees.
In your ballot statement, you said ‘I brought $24 million and zero waste to Oceanside and soon will bring $100 million in jobs and infrastructure improvements.’ Where do you see $100 million in jobs and infrastructure improvements coming from?
With my unique position with the California Coastal Committee and the Joint Powers Agreement, I can make things happen. This experience with other agencies helps me bring in funds for the I-5 widening mitigation and keep that money in Oceanside.
Your candidate statement was blank. So let me ask you a question: Since Oceanside needs money to maintain the city we desire, how will you encourage businesses to open in Oceanside so that we may benefit from increased revenue.
I am a graduate of Oceanside High School. There are too many empty business spaces. There are no incentives now. We need to give reduced rates from the City. We need to make it easy for business to come here.
Tri-City Healthcare District Candidate Forum
September 13, 2012
GENERAL QUESTIONS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
What can you bring to the TriCity Healthcare District Board of Trustees that the other candidates cannot?
RAMONA FINILLA: My experience as a leader in various delivery systems. I was chair of SANDAG. I served on the Carlsbad City Council and the San Diego Airport Authority. Healthcare is a delivery system and I have experience with those type of systems.
WAYNE LINGENFELTER: I have current, relevant healthcare experience. I have been the CEO of six hospital. I have chaired many hospital boards. I understand and know how to run a hospital and I know how boards should work.
RODGER REESE: Three reasons. 1) I have a sense of community and I am rooted in Oceanside. I am an appointed member of the hospital’s Community Healthcare Alliance Committee. 2) I have business acumen. I started a business with nothing and now I am a job creator. 3) Because of my work on the Alliance Committee I have knowledge of how a hospital works.
ROSEMARIE RENO: I have lots of health care experience. I am certified in many areas of board leadership including hospital administration and finance. I have taught nursing at MiraCosta Community College. I want to ensure the growth of the hospital and expansion of service.
JULIE NYGAARD: I have many, many years experience as an elected official. I know what it takes. I am a good listener and I listen more than I talk. I know how to behave as an elected official. I can solve problems and read a budget. I will be good at soothing the atmosphere at the Board.
CHARLENE ANDERSON: I am a single parent and raised two successful children in a very challenging world. I am a former nurse which makes me a jack-of-all-trades. I have good intuition.
Tell us how you go about achieving consensus among diverse opinions.
RAMONA FINILLA: I have found that usually the pertinent facts are not there or understood when there are diverse opinions. I make sure everyone understands the facts and I clarify existing policies. As Chair of SANDAG which is comprised of representatives of 18 cities, when reaching decisions I made sure all opinions were heard and all relevant policies were known. You have to have a clean, open, fair process for problem solving.
WAYNE LINGENFELTER: As a CEO, I have had to do that many times. I serve as a motivator. Everyone with an opinion is motivated by something. You need to learn what the motivation is and then shift it to work in the situation. I listen and build consensus.
RODGER REESE: You act in good faith to meet the needs of the community. Listen for needs that are currently not being met.
ROSEMARIE RENO: Last Tuesday evening in closed session, as Chair, I allowed everyone to speak. The way we communicated was with trust and respect. I listen and build consensus.
JULIE NYGAARD: Democracy demands a variety of opinions. I listen to them respectfully and then reach a decision. In building consensus, you need respect each other. I am respectful and thoughtful. My reputation precedes me.
STEVE GRONKE: I will use my experience on the Vista City Council. While on the Council, I worked well with my peers. I am level-headed, not abusive or confrontational. I listen to others and take in what they say.
CHARLENE ANDERSON: I meet people where they are as a starting point. You can always find common ground and be civil. You need to talk things through. Sometimes you need to agree to disagree. I use the “Golden Rule” in how I treat others.
What skills will you bring to the Tri City Healthcare District Board of Trustees to create an effective, harmonious, respected governing body?
RAMONA FINILLA: To be effective, you have to get to the kernel of truth on an issue. You have to ask the right questions to get to the heart of the matter. I have leadership skills. I was elected to the Carlsbad City Council three times and we were harmonious.
WAYNE LINGENFELTER: First, my leadership. I was in the Marine Corps for 20 years and I have 31 years of experience in healthcare leadership. Second, my communication skills. I can communicate up and down. I can make my ideas understood and my thoughts are based in reality.
RODGER REESE: My skills are: 1) Leadership 2) Guidance and 3) I know how to run a business at a profit.
ROSEMARIE RENO: Leadership starts at the Board. It is true we have not always been civil. However, we have developed trust and we have developed respect. We have to be transparent with staff. I brought in a facilitator and the facilitator helped.
JULIE NYGAARD: I have lots of experience as an elected official as I was on the Carlsbad City Council, the Carlsbad School District and the North County Transit District. I know how to govern. I am known as the person who listens and brings people together. The Board has responsibility to create the aura of a professional body. We need to set ground rules for behavior.
STEVE GRONKE: In my time serving on several Boards, I demonstrated respect for my peers. I listen, even if I may not agree and I listen respectfully. We need to come to consensus. I have a history of working successfully with people.
CHARLENE ANDERSON: I am optimistic and clear headed. I am slow to anger. I am a good listener and communicate. I can see the global issue. I was a nurse for a long-time and have insight into people’s positions.
How do you reconcile the governing responsibilities of the Board with the administrative role of the Chief Executive Officer.
RAMONA FINILLA: The CEO is an at will employee of the Board. The Board and the CEO are supposed to be a team and share information in a timely manner. All Board members need access to the same information. There need to be more briefings from the CEO.
WAYNE LINGENFELTER: You need to clarify the roles of the Board and the CEO. The role of the Board is to lead and give policies and the role of the CEO is to carry out the Board’s direction. The CEO needs to report back to the Board. One of the biggest responsibilities of the Board is hiring the CEO.
RODGER REESE: We need to change the culture of the Board. The CEO answers to the Board and the Board answers to the community. The Board needs to have connectivity to the public. We need to have an interactive website.
ROSEMARIE RENO: We need to have ground rules. Workshops are effective. You need to have effective communication with the CEO which is paramount to making the system work. The Board has policies that provide guidelines and government codes. The Board needs to know the bylaws and the regulations.
JULIE NYGAARD: The Board needs to establish itself as a Board that can work together. The Board needs to establish that the CEO works for the Board. The Board needs to get itself together so it can lead.
STEVE GRONKE: In an elected position, it’s about perception. The current Board is dysfunctional. The CEO has control of it. Mr. Anderson has taken on the Board before and done great things. The Board needs to be in control and not the CEO. The accusations against the Board need to change.
CHARLENE ANDERSON: We need to have one-on-one conversations with the CEO in his office. We might agree or we might disagree. We need to attend the Board agenda conference and read the Board book which has written information. We need to talk with other Board members while not violating the Brown Act.
In 60 seconds, what question do you wish we would have asked you.
RAMONA FINILLA: Why did you come out of retirement to do this? And the answer was that I am frustrated with the current situation at the TriCity Board. We have a high level organization operating poorly. We have a fine hospital with the wrong community perception. We need to care about the regional community.
WAYNE LINGENFELTER: Why does the community need you? I saw a lot of community needs and thought about how I could best help. I am best qualified in healthcare and I wanted to take my experience to the community. I know I have the experience and ability.
RODGER REESE: Why vote for me? I am a hard worker and thorough. I can work through all problems.
ROSEMARIE RENO: What experience do you have to be a good Board member? I have experience. I have received many public health and leadership awards. I have nursing awards. People need to know I respect all patients and treat them with dignity.
JULIE NYGAARD: Tell us more about your reputation as a community leader? Since 1976 I have been volunteering with organizations to move them forward in a good way.
STEVE GRONKE: Why am I sitting here tonight? I have been an educator for 30 years. I have helped my city and am proud of my work at the City of Vista. I serve on the TriCity Foundation Board of Directors and I know about the good things the hospital is doing. I want to help spread the word.
CHARLENE ANDERSON: What is your perception of how Tri-City functions and is the Board dysfunctional? The problems are all because of one person. The newspapers sell sensation and we had one screaming person who was responsible. The committees do a wonderful job.
SPECIFIC QUESTIONS EACH CANDIDATE
In your ballot statement you outline many years of community service and achievements. In your vast experience, what is the most difficult issue you have had to face and how was it resolved.
Every issue is different. I study every issue and gather community input. There are always challenges. You need to bring people together to resolve them. As an example, when Legoland wanted to come in, Carlsbad was divided but there was a great deal of support from surrounding communities. We had to bring the community together to move the project forward.
What do you mean when in your ballot statement you say ‘Board members create the quality and stature of the agency they represent.’?
Board members created the “climate” in which good things happen. You need an attitude of cooperation and work together as a team. Everyone should have the same commitment to excellence.
What is the first thing you would change if you were elected.”
I would change two things. First, the way the Board currently operates internally. And, secondly, the way the Board operates with regard to staff and employees. We need clear better lines of communication. We need to make sure our vision is clear.
In your ballot statement you say you are eager to provide ‘the highest quality of patient care to our Tri-City community.’ How do you as a Board member accomplish this?
The Board has a mandate to control all the administrative and operations. We need a good hospital culture and the good culture of the hospital begins with the Board. We need to ensure we have good doctors and nurses and provide support for them. I understand quality of care. We need to make sure the hospital is always prepared for the survey.
In your ballot statement you outline an extensive administrative background. Tell us about your governing experience.
The governing board has the responsibility to set the direction and give guidance and direction to the administration. I have been chair of several hospital boards and I know how to bring boards together for a common cause.
In your ballot statement, you talk about ‘creating a positive work environment’. How does a Board of Trustee’s do that?”
The Board is at the top of the hospital and the top pushes down what they value. Policies from the Board need to be good for employees and patients.
What particular skills in your business experience will enable you to bring the ‘common sense and integrity’ you outline in your ballot statement to the TriCity Healthcare District Board of Trustees?
I am a small business owner. I have a janitorial business. My background is in community service. I am an appointed member of the hospital’s Community Healthcare Alliance Committee which reaches out to the community. I am hardworking and conscientious and put my heart into everything. I will put in as many hours as necessary. I pledge integrity, peace and civility.
In your ballot statement you talk about the public being ‘open to many possibilities of implementing changes’ with regard to healthcare. What possibilities do you believe the public is open to implementing?
We who want good healthcare should not look to Washington. Washington should look locally. People want local control of their healthcare.
In your ballot statement, you talk about ‘the challenge of applying fundamental wellness methods to our lives.’ What do you mean by this?
My service on the hospital’s Community Healthcare Alliance Committee has been an eye-opener. I have learned that three behaviors (smoking, eating and drinking) result in four outcomes (diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity) which lead to 50% of the deaths. We need to work in collaboration with the public and schools about wellness.
You have served as Chair of the Tri City Healthcare District Board of Trustees for several terms. What has been the biggest obstacle to achieving a harmonious governing environment?
We are getting things turned around at TriCity. We have had a necessary change in administration. We have a new CEO. I brought him in; he is a visionary. We need to be collaborative in working with the CEO.
How will you subsidize the ‘safe patient care at the lowest cost possible’ that you support in your ballot statement?
We need to look beyond the hospital walls. We need to be doing more joint venturing with the clinics like Vista Community Clinic and North County Health Services. We need to ensure the lowest possible cost while maintaining quality.
What do you mean when in your ballot statement when you reference that you improved ‘market share of patients’? How do you provide them with services and how do you pay for them?
We lost 30% of our “market share” when the Mission Park Group shifted from Tri City to Scripps. New leadership has now come to restore that “market share”. We need our “market share” of patients to survive. We need to provide needed services locally. We need the clinics to help the uninsured.
In your ballot statement you reference your two terms on the Tri City Finance, Operations and Planning Committee. What was the most critical decision or recommendation you made during your term and why was it important.
The most critical recommendation I made I was unsuccessful in getting to the Board for action. It related to the bond exchange. I tried to get the message to the Board that there were problems with the bond exchange, but I wasn’t heard.
In your ballot statement you comment that this is a ‘critical transitional period as healthcare changes’. What do you see as the major challenges facing us?
We have an exceptionally fine hospital. People don’t realize how wonderful it is. There are lots of misperceptions about the hospital and they have to be changed. People need to be confident in leadership of their hospital.
In your ballot statement you say ‘the best quality of life for all of us must include access to top quality health care.’ How will you accomplish this?
I believe we do have top quality healthcare, but the general public doesn’t believe it. A settled and professional Board would really help. Staff is excellent. We need to create an atmosphere the people have confidence in.
In your ballot statement you say that ‘we must improve services while controlling costs for our citizens’. How will you do this?
We need to look at every existing program to see if there are ways to cut costs. We need to utilize the community clinics at the hospital. We need to recruit good doctor groups to increase the revenue for the hospital.
In your ballot statement you reference that you want to ‘make certain the Tri City Healthcare is well prepared for the changes that the federal Affordable Health Care Act will bring to the healthcare field.’ What change do you believe will most impact us?
The Affordable Health Care Act will have a positive financial change. With the Affordable Health Care Act more people will have insurance and better insurance. They will then be able to pay their medical bills. Fewer bills will go into receivership and the hospital will lose less money.
You are seeking a second term on the Tri City Board of Trustees. What was the major accomplishment of your first term and why?
It was putting every patient first and assuring adequate resources to do that. I got the administration to change the staffing ratio to what the State mandates. Staffing has been my main focus.
In your ballot statement you talk about how your healthcare experience shaping your ‘vision for the Tri City Hospital District. What is your vision?
My goal is that we are in the top 10% of hospitals nationwide in good patient care by 2015. We are on our way. We have achieved many awards since I came to the Board such as for our stroke and cardiac care programs. We now have the De Vinci robot for heart surgery.
The current Tri City Healthcare District Board of Trustees of which you are a member has repeatedly demonstrated its acrimonious nature. What can you do to turn this around?
I have been on the Board for 12 years. Kathleen Sterling was disruptive. It is hard to deal with someone like that, but the people elected her. I have tremendous rapport with other Board members. I never want to see that problem again.
MiraCosta College Board of Trustees Candidate Forum
September 6, 2012
GENERAL QUESTIONS FOR EACH CANDIDATE
Do you support the MiraCosta bond as it appears on the ballot? Why or Why not?
FRANK MERCHAT: Yes, I support the bond. Currently 75% of the classes have a waiting list. Nursing classes have a 3 year wait and chemistry classes have a 2 year wait. The bond will add classrooms for these classes. We need to update our 50 year old campus to give us the power to create jobs in our county.
JACQUELINE SIMON: Yes. We have 3 campuses and have not asked for a bond in 50 years. Our buildings are old and we need technological improvements. Our current classes are inefficient and there are waiting lists. We need to expand the classes we can offer and enhance others.
LEON PAGE: Yes. The community relies on the College. It is an engine for economic growth training our young people so they can work in the community. We need more labs for kids to learn. Some colleges are just “brick and mortar”. However, Mira Costa also offers many classes on-line.
GEORGE McNEIL: Yes and for 653 reasons. That is how many students who want lab science classes and cannot get them. Nursing classes have a 2 or 3 year wait. It is a superior program and they can not physically fit anymore people in the room. We have no room to grow and we need to serve the students and the community of this area.
If Proposition 30 or 38 do not pass and you have to eliminate a program, which program would be the first you would cut?
FRANK MERCHAT: Only 2.4% of Mira Costa’s funding comes from the State of California so this should not really be a problem. However, if I had to cut, it would be those classes that are free to the community and are duplicated by other groups. I do think we will see more students coming to us from other colleges that will have to cut.
JACQUELINE SIMON: These propositions don’t affect Mira Costa. We depend on property taxes while other colleges are funded differently by the State.
LEON PAGE: Mira Costa is a basic aid college and relies primarily on property taxes with no real State money. I don’t see Mira Cost being affected but we can still be more efficient in providing services.
GEORGE McNEIL: We are required by our accreditation to maintain State certified programs. We would want to maintain those classes that lead to an AA degree and our transfer classes. The only group left we could cut are those community classes we offer free of charge and that are duplicated elsewhere. So we would have to look at those and I hope we don’t have to do that. We do have a slight budget surplus.
If the MiraCosta College bond passes, what is your plan for maintaining the newly constructed or upgraded facilities?
FRANK MERCHAT: My business is maintenance so I have first hand experience knowing what is necessary to maintain them. I know about industrial space and how much per square foot you need for maintenance. I will bring this experience to the Board. I know about these kinds of contracts and there are a number of ways to utilize labor costs.
JACQUELINE SIMON: We need to be careful about how we budget. We are frugal but need to be even more careful. We have returning veterans and we need to re-train them and we need to expand the classes for them.
LEON PAGE: It is a question of budgeting. We need to set aside money for maintenance and deferred maintenance.
GEORGE McNEIL: We have been studying this for 2 years. We will keep the buildings pristine and keep them full of students. We are a vanguard college.
What single issue do you want to see the Board of Trustees address and how will you accomplish this?
FRANK MERCHAT: Veterans. We need to do everything we possibly can to support them. We also need to focus on the budget and find money for two counselors.
JACQUELINE SIMON: Continued open access. We need to develop programs with those in the community. We need to be in the 21st Century and provide what the students need.
LEON PAGE: We are trustees of a public trust with almost a $100 million budget. We owe a fiduciary duty to the public for budget oversight and accountability. We need to ensure our money is spent in the most effective way possible. We need an independent conduit for anonymous complaints.
GEORGE McNEIL: Student success. We have a great record, but it needs improvement. Students need to know if they come to class and do the work, they will be a success. We need more student assistance especially with veterans and younger students. We need to spend more money on student counseling, tutoring aides and support. We need to support for those who barely got out of high school.
What question do you wish we had asked you?
FRANK MERCHAT: What have you heard today that is not right or pertinent? Leon Page talks about the bond needing oversight, but it is already in place as the bond itself comes with an independent oversight committee. Jacqueline Simon talks about how frugal the college is, but salaries are 20% higher than other community colleges.
JACQUELINE SIMON: Why do you want to continue on the Board? I am the senior member on the Board and I understand the process. I am the only community college instructor. I understand the Board culture, history and process.
LEON PAGE: What is your experience? I am a graduate of University of California Santa Barbara. I worked in Sacramento as a legislative aide and went to law school at night. I focus on labor and employment law. I am employed the City of Orange. I have taught business law at Mira Costa College.
GEORGE McNEIL: Do you support Dr. Rodriguez? I do, but I don’t think everyone on the Board does. Dr. Rodriguez has accomplished a lot in the last four years and is well respected.
SPECIFIC QUESTIONS EACH INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE
In your ballot statement you say you want to ‘expand programs allowing more students to transfer to four year institutions.’ What will you do and how will you pay for it?
I can’t do anything alone but work with others. We need to look the creative ways to do this. We need to do a program review. I am sure working together there are ways we can do this.
In your ballot statement, you state that you want to ‘promote the growth of student success of returning veterans. How will you do that? Why is this an issue for you now and not in the past?
I have always been for all students. I am a community college teacher. I am for all students. We are next to Camp Pendleton. Our income structure is not limited by State funds. We need to make room for returning veterans as students because we can and they need us.
In your ballot statement, you talk about your business experience. Tell us about your business and how does that relate to guiding the government of a local community college.
When we look at the money and construction projects I have overseen, I have a long track record of bringing projects in on time. I have commodities experience and understand the bond process. I have a strong financial background and am knowledgeable of savings.
How do you see your role as a Trustee? Discuss management versus governing?
The Board of Trustees looks, 3 to 5 to 10 to 15 years ahead. The Board should be looking forward not spend time looking backwards. The administration is looking forward and the Board needs to do the same. We need to look at how Mira Costa College will integrate on-line education.
Why do you want to continue to serve on the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees?
Mira Costa is the best college. I contribute to the Board. I feel for students. I understand students and their issues. I want to meet the student’s expectations. We have had a 30% increase in students and a decrease in our budget. That needs to change.
How do you see MiraCosta College serving the diverse needs of our community?
We are diversified in every possible way including age and ethnicity. The average of our students is in their mid-twenties. We admit 100% of the graduating class of our high schools. We admit everyone, even if they need remedial work.
As a layperson I need to ask you this question. You are currently suing the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees. Now you are going to join their ranks. Tell us about that.
That is not accurate. I did not actually file a lawsuit against the College. I am a labor lawyer and I sued to stop the illegal payout to the former president. I won but I am not collecting on the judgment. I have transferred all rights to collect on the judgment to the College for them to collect the funds.
Some people perceive that you have an acrimonious history with MiraCosta College. Why are you now seeking to join the Board of Trustees?
I brought the lawsuit and got tremendous support from the public and people in the College community. I would not have one it if I had not had the support of the College. I made many friends in the process. I have learned what a wonderful College it is and what it can be and as a result I now want to serve on the Board.