November 3, 2006

National City Voters Have a Promising Blue
Collar Choice on the Ballot

By Raymond R. Beltran

Bill Goulet doesn’t have big bucks or favorable endorsements, and some local papers have turned his campaign for National City city council into an aside, or an anecdote, when highlighting the local big wigs.

But as a knowledgeable resident with two bachelor’s degrees, one in business administration and the other in machine engineering, he feels his campaign to replace either Frank Parra or Louis Natividad should be taken a whole lot more seriously than that.

His platform is that of the blue collar champion who’s done his political homework that can side step the pipe dream of turning National City into the luxurious, gold-seamed La Jolla shores and make it more of a home for working families who live here.

“I remember studying American History, and people from the working class would go do their public service and then go back to work,” he says. “I’m not a politician. I’m not here to make big bucks, but with my business background, I feel I am a qualified candidate.”

Goulet earns a modest income running a little machine shop, Goulet Industries, off of Hoover Ave making trophies, mostly for sports little leagues in the East County. He says, combined with his wife, his family of four balances a $50,000 annual budget.

He was able to squeeze out just under $1,000, including $202 in candidate fees, for his campaign signs and fliers.

Originally from New England, Goulet earned his machinist apprenticeship at an early age while working at Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft engine manufacturing company in his hometown. In 1978, he was invited by a friend to San Diego, where he was promised a fertile land of opportunities for workers in his field. He accepted.

“After three weeks of being in San Diego, I knew I wasn’t going back,” he remembers.

He spent much of his early stay partying along Garnet Ave in Pacific Beach while working at General Dynamics. Ultimately, he got married and chose National City as his home in 1987, where he and his wife raised two children.

In 1993, his business was created but preceded an almost tragic year for his family when he battled colon cancer, an incident that drastically pulled him from work and led his business to near financial disaster years later.

“We were able to keep the doors open,” he remembers. “But we sprang back up in the late 1990s.”

Today, his business is good, but it’s his city he feels is in disaster.

As a candidate, Goulet has a grocery list of things-to-do if elected, but to start, he says he would focus on lowering or eliminating the 8.75 percent sales tax increase and initiate the creation of more affordable housing.

Proposition D, the sales tax increase passed by voters in June, was Goulet’s call to action. “It was scare tactics,” he says. “They really did a good job on that campaign though, convincing people that it was really needed.”

During the campaign, the threat of less police and high crime, no park lighting, and decreased hours in the city’s only library became the backbone of Prop D. It passed by 59 percent with about 5,000 voters.

Goulet says he hopes to reach the 41 percent who opposed the prop, because they would give him a victorious voter percentage and they’d probably meet eye to eye with him on most other issues; he wants city employees, like police and firefighters, to pay at least fifty percent into their pension funds. Right now local tax payers foot their full pensions and the majority of those employees aren’t National City residents.

“The recruiting procedures are too stringent, especially in the police department,” he says. “You can’t have a blemish, not even in your juvenile records. You know, people make mistakes, but that’s probably kept National City residents out of the police department. We’re still knee deep in crime … There’s only two firefighters that actually live in the city. That’s atrocious.”

He’d also like to see a stronger police oversight commission with subpoena powers because he’s been witness to racial profiling against the city’s Mexican community. He says if you want to prevent crime, begin investing in youth programs.

“The current mentality in the city is that tough enforcement of the law will ultimately reduce crime. That doesn’t seem to be working too well,” states his online campaign statement. “It creates a rift between police and the community. I believe enhancing youth programs to keep [youth] off the streets is a great form of crime prevention. Let’s get these kids when they’re young and we won’t have problems with them later.”

He likes the idea of inviting the Charger’s Stadium to the city for the revenue it would bring. As far as Mayor Inzunza’s recent sanctuary city spectacle, he thought it a trifling exhibit of good will that might help Inzunza in future political endeavors.

Parra and Natividad are completing their first, four-year term as councilmen won in 2002 sharing 42 percent of the votes. His out-of-the-spotlight competition are two retired residents, Randy Myr-seth and Norma Pinal.

Myrseth, a retired military veteran, was not available for comment and Pinal, a 78 year old retiree, declined to comment about National City issues or her campaign, except to say that she’s “tired of the immigration issue.”

As an educated man, Goulet seems to know he’s at a disadvantage competing with two very popular incumbents, Parra being endorsed by fire-fighters and Natividad being somewhat of a local celebrity. He says if he doesn’t get the votes, he’ll stick around the issues as a volunteer on a commission, maybe police oversight or planning.

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