ESCONDIDO – The North San Diego County NAACP (NSDC NAACP) held a “Meet the Candidate” forum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, featuring the candidates that will be running in Escondido’s upcoming city council race.
Present at the forum were District 2 candidates Rick Paul and Vanessa Valenzuela, District 3 candidates Dara Czerwonka, Don Greene and Susan Reveles, and District 4 candidate April Pugh.
District 2 candidate Tina Ostrem Inscoe and District 4 candidate Andres Yanez did not attend the forum.
The event was hosted by the organization’s vice president, Rob Jenkins, and moderated by the third vice president, Natasha Howell.
The hour-and-a-half-long forum featured several questions from the NSDC NAACP, followed by a question and answer portion from the public.
These included discussions about the candidates’ views on the controversial Harvest Hills development, campaign donations from developers, police misconduct, climate action, affordable housing and more.
Every candidate indicated that they were opposed to the Harvest Hills development, but answers varied regarding whether or not they would take campaign donations from developers.
“I have not taken any campaign contributions from developers… regardless of whether they have something eminent in front of us or not today, doesn’t mean that they won’t have something eminent in front of us next week or next year,” said District 3 candidate Don Greene, who is endorsed by Escondido Councilmember Olga Diaz. “Since development is the greatest impact on our city… we need to have planning commission members and councilmembers who are free from the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Almost all of the candidates said they were in support of a police oversight committee in a discussion about recent widespread concerns about police misconduct.
District 2 candidate Rick Paul said he believes the police department itself has done a good job of holding its officers accountable, but what needs work is some of the department’s policies.
Some of the candidates raised concerns about the city’s looming budget deficit, agreeing that addressing it should be a top priority in the coming months.
The forum concluded with each candidate telling viewers why they should be elected for their respective seats.
Councilmember Mike Morasco is running for District 4 as the incumbent, while Councilmember Olga Diaz will not be running for re-election for District 3.
Elections for the Escondido City Council race will be held on Nov. 3.