By Raymond R. Beltrán
On March 2, the City of Chula Vista will have to vote on who will succeed City Council Seat 4, currently being held by Mary Salas. There are currently five candidates, Rudy Ramirez, Dan Hom, Robert Solomon, Steve Castaneda, and John L. Nezozzi. If a candidate receives over 50% they will win the seat outright in March. Short of that the top two vote getters will face off in the General Election.
Councilwoman Salas was originally elected in 1996, and was re-elected in 2000. This year, she is ineligible to run for the seat again. A council member can only serve a maximum of two terms, which Salas has done for the past eight years.
Jerry Rindone, who holds Chula Vista City Council Seat 3, is the only candidate running for the position he currently occupies. Seat 3 became available to interested candidates on November 10, nearly two months ago. Although, when the nomination period closed on December 5 last month without any candidates, it was evident that Rindone was secure in his campaign for re-election.
The Chula Vista City Council, having various legislative powers, governs the City of Chula Vista, and, in its mission statement, “is committed to build and nurture a progressive and cohesive community which values our diversity, respects our citizens, honors our legacy, and embraces the opportunities of the future.” It works as a “council-manager” process, which means that among the five seats available, the city hires a manager, or a chief administrator, to execute policies decided on by the council. The council is comprised of five members, four council members and the mayor. Currently holding seats are Patty Davis, John McCann, Jerry Rindone, up for re-election, Mary Salas, finishing her last term, and Mayor Stephen C. Padilla.
The City of Chula Vista varies, in terms of economic and cultural demographics in its east and west side. According to information taken by the city, Chula Vista is home to an approximate population of 201,210 people. According to “Chula Vista’s Demographic Trends,” the average resident’s income is $49,000, and the median age of Chula Vista residents is 35 years old. There was 66,540 units of housing recorded last year. A couple of candidates say that neglecting the west side
of Chula Vista is an ongoing problem, that needs to be addressed in terms of the use of bay front property, while it is said that council members will also have to appeal to the more privileged residents on the east side, who want to secure their neighborhood’s property value.
Any Council Seat 4 candidate who is elected after the March 2 primary elections will not begin to hold office until December 7, later this year. John L. Nezozzi was unresponsive in our request for bio info on him and his campaign, but below are a list of the other four candidates and brief descriptions of who they are:
As a native and lifelong resident of Chula Vista, Rudy Ramirez’s academic and professional foundation in the community begins in his school days, having attended St. Pius Elementary and graduating from Castle Park High School. Ramirez attended Southwestern Community College and then moved on to Chico State, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Interracial Relations, with a minor in Economics and Spanish. At University of California, San Diego (UCSD), he earned a Certificate in Quality Management and World Class Manufacturing, and at University of San Diego (USD), he earned a Professional Certificate in International Business, while planning to entrepreneur his skills in metal fabrication and manufacturing.
With credentials in his back pocket, Ramirez built his own business, San Diego Architectural Metals, and is now a candidate for the fourth seat in Chula Vista’s City Council, currently being held by Mary Salas. As a candidate, he highlights that he decided to run as a way to continue serving Chula Vista, without aspirations to become anything beyond a councilman.
Ramirez has participated in South Bay activism, having taken part in recruiting bone marrow donors for Latinos and the San Diego Blood Bank Marrow program. He’s also played a part in combating the energy crisis while working with Latino 2000 and the South Bay Forum. Currently, Ramirez is part of the advisory committee for the San Diego Center for the Blind, and is the chairman for the Board of Ethics for the City of Chula Vista. He also serves as a member on both the Chula Vista General Plan Update Steering Committee and Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Bayfront Development.
As a candidate for Chula Vista City Council, Rudy Ramirez has chosen to focus on developing the city with “favorable land use.” Specifically, he hopes to attract businesses favorable to the people of Chula Vista, that he says will ultimately bring jobs. He wants to focus on the construction of a four-year university, a City Animal Care Commission, and the development of the Green Belt Plan. The plan is to create an Olympic training track, for runners and walkers, which will extend from the San Diego Bay to the Jamul Mountains.
As a young Republican candidate for Chula Vista City Council, seat four, Dan Hom began serving the Asian community in the fourth grade as a speaker for Chinese Community Church events. He became the youngest person to oversee Balboa Park’s House of China at age fifteen. Hom endeavors to begin a lucrative career in politics, especially having a strong foundation in one, having served as a senator in a mock state government at his former Bonita High School.
In 2002, Hom was appointed to the Chula Vista Planning Commission, and is a delegate to the California Republican Committee. He served on the Board of Asian Business Association of San Diego, and had operated a business as vice-president at ID (Integrated Data). He currently is a Sales Director at Aradiant Corp., a ticketing company that, including much of its clientele, serves the San Diego Padres’ events.
After graduating from Bonita High School, Hom attended San Diego State University (SDSU), earning a degree in Political Science. After SDSU, he went on to study in the International Business Program at USD.
Dan Hom’s action plan for the City of Chula Vista includes issues such as traffic congestion. It is his commitment that before developers decided to construct anything, they must first repair and provide proper roads and means of transportation. He says he will safeguard taxpayer dollars and approach city management in the business-like fashion he’s known for. Hom wants to make safety a priority by providing police with the adequate equipment, and he also finds the preservation of Chula Vista parks a top priority.
“I’m not a politician,” says Robert Solomon. “But I have reasonable intelligence.” Solomon is a retired Vietnam veteran, currently running for Chula Vista City Council. As a candidate for seat four, he highlights the many responsibilities he’s accepted and taken care of while working within the military and civilian industry.
Having joined the United States Navy when he was seventeen-year-old, Solomon climbed the military ladder beginning as a Seaman Recruit and becoming a Lieutenant Commander. After serving in the Navy for twenty-six years, he began his civilian career as a Project Manager for the United States Navy Guided Missile Program, which lasted eight years, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. He says that during his military career, he’s “supervised and managed hundreds of people and controlled multi-million dollar budgets.”
After his military career ended, Solomon worked for two years as a San Diego County Probation Officer, leading to two years as a Training and Safety Officer for the San Diego City Jail in Otay Mesa.
Robert Solomon, currently retired, has been a resident of the City of Chula Vista for the past twenty-three years, caring for his wife Nobuko.
Steve Castaneda is a San Diego native and has been living in the City of Chula Vista for past twelve years. He graduated from Helix High School in La Mesa, and continued his education at Grossmont Community College, Miramar Community College, and National University.
In 1980, he served as police officer for the San Diego Police Department, which lasted for one year, and 1987, he continued his work with the city as a Policy Advisor and Community Representative for San Diego City Councilman Ron Roberts, which lasted five years. While working as a Community Rep, Castaneda worked directly on the development of the Gaslamp Quarters, advocated for the Convention Center expansion plan, created a coalition of military and law enforcement agents to combat prostitution in the Midway community, and took part in creating a Pro Kids Golf Clinic for less fortunate youth.
As a partner at Profile Research and Marketing, Steve Castaneda designed a local business-contracting program, earning the Small Business Administration’s “Program of the Year Award.” He also advocated for automotive businesses to relocate out of residential areas.
In 1992, Castaneda served as a Transportation and Land Use Committee Consultant and Legislative Specialist for San Diego’s Intergovernmental Affairs Department, where he analyzed state and federal legislation, coordinating the city’s legislative program. He provided oversight on all transportation issues, including transit on behalf of the mayor and city council, and was responsible for overseeing San Diego’s Capital Improvements Program, while revising the city’s contracting process.
He secured proceeds from parking meters and fines to be invested in new parking facilities.
Steve Castaneda is currently a member of the South San Diego County Economic Development Council, Chairman of the City of Chula Vista Planning Commission, and Commissioner of the Mobilehome Rent Review Commission.
Having fought against Brown Field becoming a cargo airport, Castaneda is currently opposing cellular phone towers being erected in Chula Vista communities. He plans to combat graffiti and preserve the city’s historical buildings.