Here is an interview with incumbent Sharon Jenkins who is running for San Marcos City Council. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for Council the answer the same set of email questions.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
I believe residents would vote for me for several reasons. I have been an elected leader in the community over the past 18 years – the last 4 as the newest Councilmember and the 14 years prior as a Governing Board Member of San Marcos Unified School District. Prior to this time and during this entire time I’ve been involved with giving back to the residents of San Marcos by volunteering in or leading within various non-profit and community groups (these are listed on my campaign website – www.sharonjenkinsforcouncil2016.com). You can also see on my website that I have a broad base of supporters from throughout the San Marcos community. Those who work with me know that my goal, whether it’s a city, school board or volunteer decision, is to thoroughly evaluate the situation and make an informed decision.
Please describe your stance on future development in San Marcos?
In my mind, future development includes residential, commercial and industrial. We need to work with the property owners to balance the remaining developable properties with the needs of our community. In 2012, after several years community meetings (30+) the City Council approved an update to the General Plan. These open meetings were held at multiple locations throughout the city. Attendance ranged from 20 – 100+. The General Plan advisory commission itself had 30+ members representing various aspects of the city. This is the foundation from which most development starts. I am not a proponent of future development growth just for the sake of growth. I am a proponent of smart growth that balances the needs of the community, respects a property owner’s rights and provides a benefit to the existing community.
How can you help solve school crowding issues in San Elijo Hills?
I can attest to the fact that the city and school district have a long history of working together to help each other for the betterment of the community. It’s my understanding that the district is in the process of updating their facility needs. The school district is a critical component of the success of our community. While the district will be the one deciding what to do I’m sure the City will do what we can to support their efforts. I think the city can help them out by helping to identify future properties that might fit within their needs and ensuring as new development is being planned that the developer and school district are communicating.
How can the council help address commuter traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
There has been much discussion of this topic lately. As a council we have already asked the City Manager to work closely with the local Sheriff’s Captain to continually look at ways to address both issues. In addition, we can continually evaluate our resources to see if we need more or can rebalance what we have, but we have to be mindful that when staffs do this they have to look at the overall needs of the community as well as associated costs to any changes. We can also encourage continued collaboration between the city, sheriffs and school district to review and refine, if needed, the traffic plan that was designed as part of constructing the school.
How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Hills Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?
This plan was submitted to the city the end of September. The developer and our staff have kept the council informed throughout the process and staff will be working closely with them to move the project thru as quickly as it can. If the process goes as planned we can expect to see grading, if weather allows, by the end of January followed by 12 – 18 months of construction. As a Council, we can continue to monitor its progress.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?
Events are planned through our Community Services Department. They continually evaluate what events are needed as well as the success of current events. When challenged a while back to come up with a signature event I feel they hit a homerun with the recent “Double Peak Challenge” coordinated along with the Friends of San Marcos Parks and Recreation and The San Marcos Promise.
Parks – San Marcos is known for its parks. Funds for new parks come from either grants or fees paid by developers. New park land mostly comes to us through agreements with new development. With the help of Community Services we should try to ensure they are building what is needed and/or providing us with sufficient land to build in the future. In addition, we should continue to work closely with the school district to allow joint use of our sites for field use.
Trails – as part of new development they are required to provide trails and connect, if possible, to our existing 63+ miles of current trails. Again, we can also keep watch for grants.
I think there are other qualities of life aspects in San Marcos we need to focus on. Public safety is a top priority. The Council works closely with the fire department to make sure they have what’s needed to serve our community. I think we can all be proud of the heroic efforts of our firefighters and Sheriff deputies during the 2014 Coco fire. This was a prime example of public safety at its best serving and protecting our community. We are currently in the process of purchasing a new truck and engine to the fleet, which will be about a $2M cost. The department recently added an ambulance company due to the increased medical calls. We are participating in the County upgrade to the emergency response system, which will also cost millions of dollars. In addition, we receive reports on a regular basis from the Sheriff’s Department of areas where they’ve had success as well as discussions of areas of concern they want to focus efforts. Thanks to our local Sheriffs it was recently reported that overall crime was down 22% in San Marcos.
Another aspect of quality of life in San Marcos is the education hub we have been recognized for in San Diego County. As I mentioned in another post, the foundation of this is our very own San Marcos Unified School District. We are very proud of their accomplishments and I feel working closely together with them can only benefit the community.
Lastly, bringing jobs to our community is another important facet to our quality of life. If residents can find jobs within the community they live in then they will spend less time away from their family due to the need to commute. I think it’s essential that we continually look at how we can support current businesses and constantly look at what new businesses we can bring to San Marcos. Recent new job opportunities in San Marcos include: DMV, Hobby Lobby, Winco Foods, the continued expansion of SMUSD, Palomar College and CSUSM as well as the upcoming PIMA Medical Institute, Fairfield Inn and the continued development at the North City community across from CSUSM.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on in San Marcos?
San Marcos is known to be a well run city. So, I would have to say my number one issue is not to upset what’s known to work well – focus on public safety, quality of life, traffic management, be cautious with future development.
As a Councilmember we have to focus on everything so to come up with only three is difficult.
I think as we move into four voting districts plus a Mayor being elected by the entire population, instead of being able to vote for all five, could become a concern for San Marcos. I believe it is our responsibility to keep the focus on what’s best for the entire San Marcos community and not just our particular district. Though we all come with our intentions as to why we want to be elected to the City Council, as a current Councilmember I feel it will be partly my responsibility to encourage newly district elected Councilmembers to focus on the greater good of the entire community and not just what’s best for his/her own district.
Another focus would be to ensure we maintain, and even improve where possible, the financial stability of the City. We are constantly striving to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds and find ways we can better improve how we do business in order to save money. Our entrepreneurial approach to government helps to solidify our financial stability. Current examples include: our decision to build and lease to the DMV at market rate rents, buy the former Lowe’s building so we could receive greater rents from Hobby Lobby and Winco Foods, continually seeking new businesses that will provide sales tax revenue.
The most frustration I hear about from residents is the traffic within the community. I think we need to constantly look at ways to improve traffic management, especially at our peak times of day. Though it hasn’t proven successful in the past, I think we need to continually try to work with Caltrans for better coordination of the their ramp traffic signals on our streets. I think we also need to collaborate with the Sheriff’s Department to ensure resource levels are where they should be.
How will you clean up the campaign signs after election?
It is my responsibility to make sure they are removed as quickly as possible. If possible, I will start the night of the election or at the very latest early the next morning. Please email, or call me, if you find a straggler I missed.
We have invited all 2016 City of San Marcos City Council Candidates to answer the same questions.