Ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8, 2022, The Coronado Times asked the four City Council candidates to answer the following questions in their own words to give the community insight into their backgrounds and opinions. Questions and answers will be posted in the order received.
Q: How did your Coronado story begin?
A: My active duty military career as a Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer brought me to Coronado in 1988, and I decided to make Coronado my home. Many military assignments (four in Coronado) involving both command and staff positions have taught me the value of listening to all sides of a problem and the need to make clear decisions once all facts are carefully considered. Returning from the Pentagon in 2004 to command the first explosive ordnance disposal group, my wife, Jill Olen, and I bought our house in Coronado Cays.
Q: Share an overview of your work experience.
A: Trained as an architect and mechanical engineer, I spent 28 years on active duty as a Naval Special Warfare (EOD) officer. After leaving active duty, I became a senior Navy Department official, coordinating interagency Homeland Security efforts to improve U.S. port security against underwater explosives. Additionally, I teach graduate courses in Homeland Security and Engineering Management as an Adjunct Instructor at National University and I am a consultant in Interagency Collaboration and Emergency Planning.
Q: What are the highlights of your community involvement?
A: In Coronado, in addition to my time on city council, I have served on the Coronado Planning Commission, the Coronado Community Emergency Response Team Board, the Street Tree Committee, and the Coronado Cays Homeowners Association Board. I also volunteer on the San Diego Bowl Game Commission committee, the National Parks Conservation Association Regional Council, and as a director of VFW Post 2422. In local organizations, I am a member of the Coronado Rotary Club, of the Coronado Historical Association, the Coronado Flower Association, Friends of the Library, and the Silver Strand Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.
Q: What motivated you to run for municipal elections?
A: I have spent my life serving others, growing up as a Boy Scout, serving my nation through the Navy, and volunteering in various communities across the country. After serving on various local government commissions, I ran for city council to help guide my community into the future. Making a difference on issues such as upgrading underground infrastructure and maintaining quality public safety, I am running for re-election to continue to focus on infrastructure, take control of our streets and improve our environmental posture. .
Q: Please give us your brief perspective on the following questions and list your top priorities ~ beach sewage solutions, e-bike safety, infrastructure issues: including Satellite Water Recycling Facility (SWRF) and utility landfill, abandonment of the Caltrans causeway, ways to promote and maintain a balanced business district, and community grants.
A: Four years ago, I promised to focus on public safety, underground infrastructure and traffic planning, while maintaining a financially healthy city. We have made achievements in these areas, but there is still much to do and these remain my three main areas of focus.
In public safetywe have hired an additional emergency dispatcher to enable SMS reporting of emergencies and a second School Resource Police Officer to support our schools.
In underground infrastructure, we installed 2.7 miles of new sewage lines, replaced the Trinidad pump station and designed the new Parker pump station. Our progress on the Satellite Water Recycling Facility (SWRF) has had some setbacks in terms of cost, but it remains an approved project that will be revisited in the near future. Our progress on underground power lines has been slow, but we are moving forward on several projects in coordination with SDG&E.
For traffic planning and mitigationwe had a last minute setback in the legislature in 2021, but I remain determined to demand the abandonment of the CA 75 and CA 282 freeways at CALTRANS.
While the transboundary wastewater situation remains a major concern, the recent announcement by the government of Mexico that it was committing $144 million to add to the $300 million that had been earmarked by the US government is good news. Although additional funding is still required for a full solution, we are on track for significant improvement in the years to come. It is important that Coronado and other local jurisdictions continue to work on additional funding, to create a comprehensive solution.
As the police department and the city have proactively addressed the increased power and speed that electric bikes have brought to our bike paths and to young cyclists, we must continue to educate and aggressively enforce traffic laws to prevent serious injuries involving e-bikes.
Our community grants program has evolved over the past six years into a better, criteria-based program that ensures that the nonprofit organization that receives Coronado taxpayer dollars benefits the citizens of Coronado. The program will continue to evolve, but provides potential applicants with clear guidance on the acceptable uses of these public funds.
Our city can promote and maintain a vibrant business district providing safe and clean streets and public spaces to encourage customers, locals and visitors, to linger and patronize our businesses.
In city financethe pandemic has had a negative impact on Coronado’s reserves, but thanks to tight cost control, our budget remains balanced.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Coronado?
A: While our beautiful beach and coastal setting is great, I appreciate the people in our community the most. We have an incredible group of talented residents, long-time Islanders who help connect our local history with more recent arrivals, many of whom have had impressive careers and are experts in many fields. The opportunity to sit next to a neighbor who is a nationally recognized pundit during the Sunday concert in the park is special.
Read more about the candidate here Heinze4CoronadoCouncil.com.