VISTA — Two incumbents looked to keep their seats, while five other challengers hoped to gain entry into city politics on Sept. 1 during a candidate forum for the Vista City Council.
Two seats are up for grabs on the council when the Nov. 8 election ensues with Councilmembers Cody Campbell and Amanda Rigby Young looking to extend their time on the dais following their first four-year terms.
Ranging from small business owners to a military veteran to longtime Vista residents, none of the five challengers to Campbell and Young have served on city councils previously.
All seven candidates attended the forum, hosted by the Vista Chamber of Commerce at the Civic Center, which gave them the opportunity to introduce themselves to the audience and respond to questions.
Joe Green, a lifelong Vista resident and owner of a real estate mortgage business, said he wants to take the city from “good to great.” He cited traffic flow infrastructure, including eliminating red light cameras, slowing the growth of the budget and implementing an “intelligent growth” approach as ways to improve the city.
Eureby Lopez, an immigration lawyer and lifetime Vista resident said he’s really active in the community. “I’m running for Vista City Council because I want to make Vista fair for all,” he said.
Dale Pilat, a retired Army Sgt., injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, said he wants to put the people back in charge. “We need to improve common sense principles at the city level,” he said.
Amanda Rigby Young, Vista City Councilwoman and deputy mayor said she’s brought a vision with her to the city. “I think that we have done a really good job over these last four years in bringing that vision to fruition and keeping it going,” she said.
Victoria Waufle, a resident of Vista for more than 35 years, said she’s looking forward to the expansion that’s about to take place in the city. “As Vistans, we don’t necessarily like change, but we’re going to see it. Let’s do it in parameters, let’s create additional jobs, which translates to a wider tax base.”
Cody Campbell, City Council member said he’s seen a lot of great things happening in Vista. “Over the last four years, we’ve reduced our crime rate…we now have the lowest crime rate in the city. We’re actually a safer city to live in than Carlsbad.”
Tom Fleming, a 40-year resident in Vista and retired business owner of One Day Shoe Repair said as a member of the Sheriff’s senior volunteer patrol, he’s seen some of the back roads that are in not such great shape. “I think it’s important that we work on the infrastructure like that so the fire department can have an opportunity to get around and do their job, and the sheriff’s can do their job.”
The candidates, during the more than an hour-and-a-half forum, fielded questions prepared by the Chamber and members of the audience based on their qualifications for the position to the role microbreweries played in the city to the increasing developments of apartment complexes.
For resident Gary Schons, who moved to the city in 1989 because of its small, rural town feel, said there’s not much left that’s rural anymore.
“The only thing that’s left rural is Country Feed market out on the other end of town,” he said. “In my estimation a lot of the stuff got done because the council wanted it done, not because the people wanted it done.”
He said he liked what some of the candidates had to say, but added that he was against the proposal to get rid of the red light cameras in the city.
“I think they ought to have more,” he said. “Have you ever been on Sycamore (Avenue) in the afternoon?”
Schons said following the forum he’s narrowed his decision down to two candidates.
“They all agree on a lot of things, but there are certain ones that I’m not real happy with,” he said.
Correction: This story has been changed to correct that Dale Pilat was injured while serving in Afghanistan and not wounded as previously reported.