Southwest CV Civic Association: 2012-Questionnaire Seat 3

This has been filled in with information from websites, news articles, questionnaire for other organization and financial reporting documents for incumbent. Other candidates submitted answers.

·               Pamela Bensoussan_ did not submit answers Business or Occupation:   Number of Years you have lived in Chula Vista __  Previous and Current Civic Participation in the City of Chula Vista ____


·               Larry Breitfelder: Number of Years you have lived in Chula Vista lived in Chula Vista almost all my life Business or Occupation: Business Development and Property Management Previous and Current Civic Participation in the City of Chula Vista: Proud long-time membership in the Southwest Civic Association, board membership on the Conservation Garden Museum at Cuyamaca College, Membership with the San Diego Conservation Action Committee, possibly the only non-Filipino ever elected to the board of the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO), volunteer for the Chula Vista Adult Literacy Center (the most gratifying volunteer experience of my life).  For experience more directly related to holding city council office - Please see the answer to question #1.


Guillermo Briseno:  Number of Years you have lived in Chula Vista Over 30 Business or Occupation: owner Pacific Bay Auto, 150 Jacqua, CV 91911 Previous and Current Civic Participation in the City of Chula Vista: board member of SWCVCA for three years,


Robert Castaneda:  Number of Years you have lived in Chula Vista All combined, less than a year Business or Occupation: Energy Workforce Development Consultant Previous and Current Civic Participation in the City of Chula Vista: community organizer for STOP Espanada Campaign (2005),


1. Please provide a brief resume of your experience and training qualifying you to be a member of the CV city council.


Pamela Bensoussan: no answer submitted


Larry Breitfelder: Other than some time away for school and working in Los Angeles for a few years,

I have lived in Chula Vista since infancy.  I first became involved in the community as a child walking next to my mother as she went door-to-door for the March of Dimes.

In 2002, I was elected to the Board of a utility that was enduring a governance melt down: massive employee turnover, lawsuits and criminal investigations that included one from the FBI. That was serious business because that was a public asset worth hundreds of millions of dollars and essential to the health and economic well being of this community.

A few years later, that organization was recognized as an industry leader in finance and strategic planning.  Its bond rating had been increased (saving money for the public), productivity was up thanks to investments in information technology (better service to more people by fewer employees) and a million dollars a year was being saved by having non-core functions provided by outside companies.

I enjoyed the lessons you learn having a share of responsibility for a combined billion dollars or so in budgeting.   As the troubles of Chula Vista City Hall became more apparent, I was prompted to establish the Chula Vista Taxpayer Association.  The vision was to give a voice to independence and to put the good of Chula Vista ahead of the desires of political parties or special interests.

It’s been my privilege, as President of that organization, to stand up for needed fiscal reforms and “blow the whistle” on the recent unnecessary, and in my view crazy, attempt to lay off our already over-stretched police officers.


Guillermo Briseno: First of all, I am NOT  a politician, I don’t have anyone funding my campaign and I have no experience in this political game .  I’m a small business owner with the same issues many Chula Vista citizens are facing today.  I have lived here over 30 years, I own a small business in Chula Vista and my kids attend school here as well. I am fully aware of deep pocket developers who want to come in and change our scenery overnight, and I don’t have a problem with that as long as its a high quality development that will  bring in more  jobs and enhance our  quality of life. I want to be the voice of small business and the thousands of non-voting citizens that still want to be heard.


Robert Castaneda: INDEPENDENCE: I will not take special interest money - unlike others in this election - rather, my interests and primary consideration -- once elected -- is to represent the people of Chula Vista given their interests and priorities, not deep pockets with designs on public money and self-serving agendas;

EXPERIENCE: I have three-decades of Government and Business "know-how." additional resources and program services to Chula Vista to better serve seniors with social services, re-open our recreation centers for MORE than two days a week (as they are now); fund graffiti abatement programs; open our libraries for additional hours, and bring police and fire protection to sustainable and necessary levels insuring public safety. I am the only candidate with that level of experience to make this happen.

INTEGRITY: I am NOT, nor do I intend to be a professional politician; what does that mean? Unlike the incumbent, I will not ask the people of Chula Vista to make do with less public safety; public employees being laid off; fewer library hours; street lights that are not operating 24/7; recreation centers that are only open two days a week, etc. This is now happening with an incumbent taking a $6K a year car allowance and taking the perks of elected office. Rather, I will donate that car allowance to the Norman Park Senior Center and donate 10% of my salary to the Urban Corps for graffiti abatement.


2. What organizations, developers, mobile home park owners and relatives as well as well known individuals are supporting you and how much money has each contributed?


Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answers

According to 3/31 campaign reporting document raised $13,022 from mobile home park owners, MacMillan and other developers, and various individuals, DECEMBER 2011 CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURE DOCUMENT;  March 2012 Campaign Finance Disclosure


Larry Breitfelder: I am proud to have the support of the Chula Vista Police Officers Association, Chula Vista Fire Fighters, Deputy Sheriffs Association, former Police Chief Bill Winters, and community advocates like the founders and leaders of Crossroads II, and Mobile Home Park Residents Association.

DECEMBER 2011 CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURE DOCUMENT;  March 2012 Campaign Finance Disclosure


Guillermo Briseno: I have been funding my own campaign.


Robert Castaneda: Many within your organization may know my brother, Steve Castaneda; he is termed-out this November. Steve has worked harder than anybody I know to make a difference and represent the communities of Southwest Chula Vista at City Hall; I hope to maintain that legacy that he has established. I have just begun my fundraising; I own my business and have been putting in my own money to date. I have not asked, nor will I take money from political organizations, other politicians or PACs; that is the only campaign I intend to run. March 2012 Campaign Finance Disclosure


3. What are the names of the people who do not live in Chula Vista who have contributed to your campaign and how much money have they contributed?


Pamela Bensoussan: no answer submitted


Larry Breitfelder: Few and not very much.  My financial support tends to reflect neighborhood grassroots support.


Guillermo Briseno: NONE


Robert Castaneda: NONE


4. If you are an incumbent or have held this office before what significant accomplishments did you achieve in your time in office?

Pamela Bensoussan: (from her answers to questionnaire for Eastlake Democrats, did not submit answers) Led effort along with Councilman Mitch Thompson to denounce Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation bringing a resolution to Council; Led opposition to Prop G (the Anti labor initiative); sponsored resolutions and ordinances supporting environmental sustainability, renewable energy and decommissioning South Bay Power Plant and the polluting Peaker Plant on Main Street; defended funding( through CDBG and HUD) of local social services for the underprivileged, homeless and abused (recently elected Democrat on Council wanted to withdraw the city’s funding for social programs in favor of anit graffiti programs). Lend political support to organizations like Planned Parenthood and movements for livable wages. In addition I have caused progress on the Bayfront to advance by bringing forward a resolution (in early 2009) for a unanimous Council to send to the Port to redirect their focus on finishing (and funding) the Masterplan EIR. Helped negotiate agreement with Labor and Environmental groups on EIR mitigation for the Bayfront Master Plan, which allowed it to move forward with full support of Business, Labor and Environmental organizations. Successfully lobbied colleagues on Council to support a rigorous Green Building Code, the Clean Business program and adoption of aggressive Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation policies. Worked to bring labor and environmental stakeholders to join with business stakeholders to support economic development in the region and to join forces to oppose Prop G. Worked as Co-Chair throughout 2010 and 2011 for Chula Vista’s Centennial Celebration. Sponsored artist groups and stakeholders in their efforts to expand activities locally. Supported and led efforts to adopt a historic preservation ordinance in Chula Vista. With my staff members, brought back the annual Harbor Days Festival on the bayfront. Worked with TAVA (Third Avenue Village Association) to advance Third Avenue Streetscape, art and culture activities, popup stores and ongoing revitalization of the village. As SCEDC representative worked with owners and managers of C.V. Center to promote upgrades and renovation (plans in progress). Lobbied SANDAG for more long term funding for transportation and transit infrastructure for South Bay region. Worked on planning improvements and trails for the Otay Valley Regional Park and assisted ongoing efforts to fund the completion of the Bayshore Bikeway project. Always mindful of creating opportunities for diversity on boards and commissions, I have advocated and successfully supported many applicants who through these appointments bring fresh perspectives to civic service.


5. What do you see as the greatest challenges to Chula Vista for a council member, and how do you plan to address those challenges?


Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answers


Larry Breitfelder: Everything our city government does should be for the purpose of preserving and enhancing the neighborhoods we live in.  That includes strengthening our local economy so that we have the jobs and resources we need, adequate police and fire protection, improving our schools and ultimately restoring our library, park and other services.

All of these important things are interdependent.  And none can be fully successful without a foundation of public trust.  We need people of principle who know the difference between selling out and working things out.  We need people who can build bridges - not just in city hall, but throughout all segments of our community.


Guillermo Briseno: Communication.

  I believe 9 out of 10 citizens are disengaged with the issues that are facing our city.

        One of the primary reasons could be that most working people do not have the time to attend city council meetings that start at 4pm. As a councilman, I would use every communication tool possible.  Email, twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media is available to reach out to the public in English and Spanish.  I would set up a weekly internet chat room and talk about any topic that might be of interest. We also need to expand our bulletin board to a bigger electronic board that will face the corner of F and 4th Ave.


     Economic Development:


  Chula Vista must focus on attracting and maintaining quality businesses in order to sustain and enhance our quality of life. The bayfront project will bring over 2000 permanent jobs but Southwest Chula Vista is still being neglected.


Robert Castaneda: (1)      Good sustainable jobs

(2)    Ensuring that EVERY community is well represented and gets its fair share of both resources;

(3)    Fighting special interest that is alive and well and attempting to garner a three vote majority and the lion’s share of city resources.

No one person can do or make change by themselves – community support is vital. I will seek and work for the support for at least two other members on the city council. I believe I have the best chance to do just that based on ALWAYS; I mean always taking a position on the best thing to do for the city, and knowing and articulating why to as many Chula Vistans that will listen. I have no interest in seeking any other political office; therefore, I am no threat to anybody but special interest. If I can help politically the members that I serve with given a good job they want to do in other arenas of public service, I can and will do that.


5a. Do you agree that Chula Vista must stop emphasizing housing and start promoting more commercial and industry in order to finally get us balanced sometime in the future?

Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answers

Larry Breitfelder: Houses are for living in.  If we want to keep and enhance good neighborhoods (including streets that don’t look like the surface of the moon), we need a balanced local economy with healthy commercial and industrial sectors.

On this basis, Southwest Chula Vista is key to the well being of Chula Vista as a whole. More than ever before, we have to work together to have our city reach its full potential as a great place for us to live.


Guillermo Briseno: YES ! but at the same time we need more services and low income housing programs for the huge wave of baby boomers we will begin to see in  the next 1-15 years.


Robert Castaneda: In order to ensure a quality of life (environment) based on not exceeding the city’s carrying capacity there must be a balance between local employment, infrastructure and housing. Chula Vista must focus on developing local business and securing for community services, public safety, needed infrastructure and maintenance that revenue those businesses create. I have spoken with many business owners across Chula Vista and they are burdened by a non-responsive City Hall to their issues, that must change.


6. What is your position on District elections for council members?


Pamela Bensoussan: On 2/28/12 Voted against putting issue on the ballot because did not like the way the motion was worded. On city's website entire discussion can be viewed.

Larry Breitfelder: The incumbent should finally say whether she believes district elections are good or bad for Chula Vista.  It’s far too late to be leadership, but at least it could be honest.                                 District Elections is an important issue.  It's about whether big-spending, out of town interests continue to have more control over Chula Vista than you or I do as people who actually live here.                               Right now, it's too easy for these groups to simply buy our elections. The result is that the voice of special interests are louder in city hall than yours and mine put together.                                           These out of town special interests love the status quo.  Influence is their bread and butter.  The last thing we get out of the system is a "concern for the broader interests of the community.”                                                                                                                                                 No system can guarantee virtue.  However, with a smaller neighborhood-based system, candidates can actually meet and talk to most of the voters.  Outside money will still come in but will have a very hard time overcoming that effect.                                                                                               Above all else, our election system should assure this in the minds of our electeds: our residents and our neighborhoods come first.

Guillermo Briseno: I'm not happy because its costing  taxpayers over $100k to bring it up for a vote but if it means that we will have better representation from our council members then I am all for it.


Robert Castaneda: I support a District Election system in Chula Vista.


7. What is your position on whether we need a legislative council, term limits, and/or reduced pay for our elected City Attorney?


Pamela Bensoussan: Voted against it at 2/28/12 council meeting. Said it was not necessary and objected to spending the money to put it on the ballot.


Larry Breitfelder: Approx. $250,000 a year in salary is excessive.  Term limits are, on balance, desirable.  In limited circumstances, the occasional use of outside legislative council is appropriate.


Guillermo Briseno: If we are doing this to save money across the board, then let’s take it a step further and have every elected official take a 20% cut off their salary and donate it to their favorite organization in Chula vista until all our vital services and programs are restored.


Robert Castaneda: The Chula Vista City Attorney should not make more money than the Attorney General of both the United States (Eric Holder) and the State’s Attorney General (Kamala Harris); the City Attorney is an elected official (politician), and should not be exempt from term-limits, nor should the City Attorney be allowed to police and conduct an investigation on themselves. The people of Chula Vista never intended for the “fox to watch the chicken coop” as is the case that we have now.


8. Should an Infrastructure Bond be put on the ballot to pay for maintenance of roads, buildings and streets?


Pamela Bensoussan: (no answer submitted, never discussed at council)


Larry Breitfelder: Our city government has a long way to go discussing with us the depth of our infrastructure problem and the merits of each option available to us.  If it’s done right, we should have the consensus we’ve so often lacked in recent years.  Mishandled, we’ll just get more division.

This is a challenge of and opportunity for Leadership. 


Guillermo Briseno: Not with this economy


Robert Castaneda: The current level of bond obligations given schools that is shouldered by many property owners is taking its toll on homeowners in Chula Vista. To add to that burden is not something I can support at this time.


9. Should money be taken from one area of the city for projects in another area?


Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answer


Larry Breitfelder: No part of this city should get the short end of the stick.


Guillermo Briseno: No


Robert Castaneda: Absolutely not!


10. Do you support the City Council’s plan to continue taking as much money as Redevelopment had been taking away from the General Fund, schools, the County and special districts for projects that the will not be able to maintain in the future? (20% of the 14 million that went to the Redevelopment Agency in the past would be 2.8 million almost enough to totally eliminate next year’s deficit.)


Pamela Bensoussan: Voted with rest of council to continue taking as much money as possible. (Did not submit an answer.)


Larry Breitfelder: The public needs and deserves police and fire protection as well as an effective good quality educational system.  Whether we continue to invest in particular projects should be based on their benefit to the public, not just old habits.


Guillermo Briseno: No.


Robert Castaneda:  stated in 11: However, the Governor believes like I do that we as Californians – given this economy –cannot afford to divert billions in tax revenue away from schools and public safety. That being said, the Governor and the State Legislature needs to work with cities to develop real solutions that allow municipalities to address the issues of affordable housing and the refurbishment of truly blighted areas of our cities.


11. What is your plan for encouraging economic development in the city without Redevelopment funds?


Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answers


Larry Breitfelder: City Hall doesn’t get it.  Millions have been invested in old-fashioned “redevelopment." What improvements to our local economy do we have to show for it?

For a start, we need to get back to the basics. In particular our regulations should be periodically revised so that they protect the public while not imposing excessive inconvenience and expense on those investing in jobs producing businesses in our community.

Having booths at economic development conferences is not going to bring us tax and job producing companies.   We must invest wisely in our future.

Chula Vista has a lot to offer.  Our city government must rise above itself to enlist our most respected business leaders to help us (with some city support) recruit good companies to move into or expand in Chula Vista.


Guillermo Briseno: We must recruit quality companies that will bring sustainable  jobs to our city .


Robert Castaneda: I intend to work with both the Governor, Mayors of other cities and the state legislature on addressing this issue. There are some prescriptions on the table now, not only with Chula Vista, but with many other cities and in Sacramento. The Governor who eliminated the redevelopment agencies knows the value of redevelopment when done and operated right; Brown was the Mayor of Oakland and that city benefited from redevelopment greatly in revitalizing the city’s downtown and added to the affordable housing inventory.

However, the Governor believes like I do that we as Californians – given this economy –cannot afford to divert billions in tax revenue away from schools and public safety. That being said, the Governor and the State Legislature needs to work with cities to develop real solutions that allow municipalities to address the issues of affordable housing and the refurbishment of truly blighted areas of our cities.


12. What ethical guidelines do you feel are important for a candidate for CV City Council?


Pamela Bensoussan: did not submit answers


Larry Breitfelder: More loyalty to the people of Chula Vista than interest groups in San Diego.

The character to respect and appreciate those who disagree with us.

A commitment to Honest and open communication with the public.

To be Motivated by the desire to do well for the people of Chula Vista rather than the pursuit of excessive car allowances and petty perks.


Guillermo Briseno: Transparency in government. OPEN and HONEST communication with our fellow citizens with no b.s.


Robert Castaneda: Obey the law and lead by EXAMPLE. Too many politicians cannot be taken at their word, shame on them. I have had senior positions with three California Governors; what does that mean? An over inflated ego, fancy meals, lavish car allowances and perks have never been part of my past nor will they be part of my future in serving the people of Chula Vista. That will be a welcome change to many of us here!


13. Do you agree that it is unethical for former elected members of the council to represent or work on city projects for businesses that receive contracts from the city of Chula Vista for at least a year after leaving elected office? (This is a requirement now in the city's Charter.)


Pamela Bensoussan: (declined to answer this question on questionnaire for Eastlake Democrats also)


Larry Breitfelder: Yes, of course.


Guillermo Briseno: Of course .


Robert Castaneda: It is unethical and should be illegal; that was the case with a former council member and his work for the Espanada project.