This past Monday, April 21, the Northwest Civic Association (NWCA) of Chula Vista hosted the first political forum of the year for the candidates running for city council. La Prensa San Diego was a sponsor of the event, but for all practical purposes NWCA did the lion’s share of the work in organizing this event.
The forum was held at the old Lions’ Club with the former mayor of Chula Vista, Steve Padilla, serving as moderator. Candidate Pamela Bensoussan running for seat #3 was there as were the four candidates for seat # 4, Steve Castaneda (the incumbent), Pat Aguilar, Scott Vinson, and Pat Moriarty.
As far as political forums go, this would have to be considered a pretty good one. A nice crowd turned out, the candidates were prepared and at times quite engaging with one another and with the audience. The questions from the audience were balanced and reflective of the concerns of the citizens that were there. But this editorial is about the fact that one candidate, a candidate considered a serious challenger for seat #3, did not show up Russ Hall.
Pamela Bensoussan co-founded the NWCA and has served as its president. It is understandable that Hall would have some concerns going into this event. Considering this fact, Frank Zimmerly, Ken Wright, and Steve Wood, the organizing subcommittee, bent over backwards to make this forum as even-handed as possible, and tried to accommodate Hall’s requests and changes as best as they could without compromising the integrity of the format. This is not the first time that NWCA has put on this type of event. NWCA have been putting together these forums as a public service for years now.
Despite NWCA’s and the subcommittee’s best efforts, Russ Hall decided not attend the forum! We have to assume he did not feel comfortable with the setting. Perhaps he felt that he would be ambushed by these folks. Many were seniors and all were concerned Chula Vista citizens. It would be disappointing, however, if he felt that these good folks were out to get him.
Often times actions speak louder than words. As a political leader there are going to be many, many times where politicans will have to go into a meeting where they know they will have to face dissenting points of views and opinions, and where their decision making process will be questioned. If elected, will Hall choose to attend only those meetings that he feels comfortable with? Will he shun those he doesn’t agree with? Will he be inclusive? We wonder.
In times of stress, when the going is tough, is when you get a true handle on a man’s character. When things are good and there are no worries, it is easy to be jovial and accommodating. But under pressure, the true character of a person is revealed.
Russ Hall missed out on an opportunity to show his true leadership abilities. He failed in this his first test.
Hall could take a lesson from Scott Vinson who shared some of Hall’s concerns in attending this event, yet he showed up and dealt with the pressure. Further, Vinson showed a sense of humor, displaying his prepared bulls eye that he was ready to stick on his back. In the end, Vinson left the forum pleased and ready to take on the next challenge.