Patch: Share a short bio about yourself:
Sherri Lightner: I am a 50+ year resident of San Diego. I attended Crawford High School and earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Sociology and an M.S. in Applied Mechanics and Engineering from UCSD. My husband, Bruce, and I have been married for 39 years and have lived in La Jolla Shores for the past 20 years. We have 3 children, 2 dogs and 2 cats. I am a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer who worked for 23 years in private industry at General Atomics and Rohr Industries. My husband and I formed a small consulting business 13 years ago.
Prior to being elected to City Council in 2008, I was an active community volunteer for more than ten years, including serving as a Girl Scout Troop leader, Sunday School teacher, soccer mom, president of the La Jolla Town Council, chair of the La Jolla Shores Association, secretary of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, and a member of the La Jolla Kiwanis, the La Jolla Historical Society and a variety of other community groups.
To read my complete bio, please click here.
Patch: What are the top three issues in District 1 and where do you stand on these issues?
Lightner: The top 3 issues facing La Jolla are: Improving our infrastructure, which includes resurfacing streets, undergrounding utilities, replacing sewer and water mains, improving sidewalks and so on. While we’ve made great strides in infrastructure improvements, there’s still plenty more to do. When I took office, the city was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and on the brink of default. Working together, we were able to get our financial house in order so that we could improve our credit rating and borrow money to pay for these improvements. Now that we’re back on track, we have been aggressive in making these repairs. The City Council recently approved a new $75 million infrastructure bond that will resurface roads, repair our storm water system and upgrade our fire stations, lifeguard stations, libraries and other facilities.
Improving the economic health of the area. Working with local business owners and community leaders, I helped form the La Jolla Village Merchants Association to represent the 1,250 businesses in the Village and am currently working with the community to save the historic Wall Street post office because it is vital to our quality of life and our local economy. I pushed for the creation of the city’s newly formed Economic Development and Strategies Committee so that the city can better retain, grow and attract businesses and cut red tape for taxpayers.
Improving public safety and neighborhood services, including staffing for firefighters, lifeguards and police; maintaining and increasing hours at our library and Rec Center; making sure our La Jolla lifeguard towers get built and that we fund a new fire alert system.
Patch: What are some of the positive changes you have made for District 1 already?
Lightner: Since taking office: I have made important reforms to city pensions and retiree healthcare and implemented managed competition, saving the city hundreds of millions of dollars. I also cut my pay by 8.9 percent and my staff's by 6 percent and eliminated the $10,000 annual car allowance for elected officials.
I have made constituent services a top priority, ensuring that potholes are filled, streetlights are fixed and other neighborhood repairs are made. I held two pothole roundups where more than 1,200 potholes were filled in just two weeks. In addition, more than 34 miles of road have been resurfaced in District 1, with more resurfacing projects on the way.
I worked to end fire engine brownouts and increased lifeguard staffing and training to ensure the public’s safety. I fought to maintain library and Rec Center hours during the worst of the city’s financial struggles. Now hours are being increased at all our libraries and rec centers as the city’s fiscal health continues to rebound.
I also developed a Comprehensive Water Policy that will help ensure that the City of San Diego has a local, sustainable and affordable water supply.
As chair of the newly created Economic Development and Strategies Committee, I am tasked with creating a long-term vision for San Diego’s economy while cutting red tape. So far, of the more than 60 regulatory relief suggestions made at a workshop last fall, around half have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
Patch: Who has endorsed you?
Lightner: San Diego Firefighters, San Diego Police Officers, San Diego Lifeguards and the Sierra Club.
The majority of my support comes from local community leaders who I've known and worked with for years and who trust me to represent our community's needs and priorities. For a complete list, please visit my website: www.sherrilightner.org/endorse.html.
Patch: In La Jolla there has been litigation for years over hot topics such as the access to the Children’s Pool and Mount Soledad cross. What do you think the city’s role is in these battles?
Lightner: The Mount Soledad cross is now under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the California Coastal Commission determined last summer that it has jurisdiction over the Children’s Pool. The city’s role is to follow the appropriate laws.
Patch: What position should the city take and enforce?
Lightner: The City’s role at the Children’s Pool is to keep the peace and ensure that visitors and residents alike can enjoy this unique resource. That’s why I secured private funding to start a Ranger program at this beach.
Patch: Do you think the city and the San Diego Unified School District should work more closely together? If so, why? How can each benefit?
Lightner: Yes, the City and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) can and should work together more closely. We can do more to assure use of facilities. We already have a number of joint use agreements for fields and should consider expanding this to include other facilities, as appropriate. Additionally, we can come up with innovative ways to create internships to help prepare our children for the jobs of the future. I have already begun to do that with my “Connecting to Careers” initiative, which is designed to close San Diego’s skills gap. I am also pushing to reinvigorate San Diego’s “Hire A Youth” program, which finds summer jobs and internships for local students. I am a huge supporter of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering and FIRST Robotics. Both programs highlight the need for a focus on STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- in our schools.
Patch: I’m a 37-year-old public school teacher, and every year I fear losing my job. Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: As chair of the newly created Economic Development and Strategies Committee, I am working to find ways to partner with our schools to develop partnerships and programs that will enrich our students’ educational development without adding to our school district’s budget.
Patch: I’m 52 and own a greeting card shop, and this economy is still killing me. Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: As I small business owner myself, I know the challenges you face. That’s why I am constantly working on ways to cut red tape for our local businesses to make it easier for them to reinvest in their business. Some of the reforms I am working on is revamping the City of San Diego website so it is easier to fill out forms and pay bills online as well as streamlining the permitting process so it is easier to open or expand your business. In La Jolla, I worked with local business owners to form the La Jolla Village Merchants Association so that it can begin to reinvest in this vital commercial district.
Patch: I’m 26 and camped for weeks at Occupy San Diego, protesting a tax system that gives the rich huge breaks. Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: My vision for San Diego’s economy is one that creates good-paying, middle-class jobs in every sector from manufacturing to our Port and maritime industries to our high-tech and biotech fields. A strong middle class is vital to San Diego’s prosperity and stability.
Patch: I’m 45 and have been out of work for 14 months. I’m well educated, but employers won’t even let me in the door. Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: I recently launched my “Connecting to Careers” initiative, which is designed to close San Diego’s skills gap. Right now, San Diego has an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent while more than 50,000 jobs remain vacant as local employers can’t find qualified candidates to fill those positions. My goal is to establish better relationships between our companies and our education and training partners so we can better connect job seekers such as yourself with the training you need to fill the most in-demand jobs.
Patch: I’m 18 and getting into the state university system is harder than ever—and more expensive? Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: Through my “Connecting to Careers” initiative, I am working to create more opportunities for young people to land meaningful internships and jobs. Those types of experiences not only help students on their college applications but also help prepare them for the jobs of the future. I am also working on creating a strong local economy so after graduation, college graduates will be able to find a well-paying, rewarding jobs here in San Diego.
Patch: I’m a 47-year-old musician. I’m losing my house to foreclosure. Why should I vote for you?
Lightner: I believe in nurturing San Diego’s creative class because of the importance of arts and culture in creating a strong and vibrant economy for San Diego. At the April Economic Development and Strategies Committee, for instance, I focused on how arts and culture adds not only to San Diego’s quality of life but also to our economy, with 68 arts and culture organizations generating $170 million in direct local spending.
I also believe the City of San Diego should use whatever leverage it has to ensure that banks work with our communities and reinvest in our neighborhoods. For instance, I support Council President Tony Young’s proposed Responsible Banking Ordinance, which encourages banks that do business with the City of San Diego to increase their lending and their services to our communities, including helping keep struggling families stay in their homes. I also support the Property Value Protection Ordinance, which holds banks accountable for maintaining foreclosed properties. While this will not put an end to the ongoing foreclosure crisis, it would at least force banks to take responsibility for their actions and limit the impacts foreclosures have on our neighborhoods.