Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Midday Edition

Escondido's New Mayor Discusses Top Priorities

An undated photo of Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara.
city of Escondido
An undated photo of Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara.
Escondido’s New Mayor Discusses Top Priorities
Escondido's New Mayor Discusses Top Priorities GUEST: Paul McNamara, mayor, city of Escondido

An upset victory in Escondido has changed. The city council and the political power in that north county city Paul McNamara a Democrat is Escondido as new mayor defeating incumbent mayor and longtime Escondido politician Republican Sam Abed McNamara was serenaded by a mariachi band. After his swearing in ceremony signaling a new recognition of the city's predominantly Latino population. Joining me is Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara. And welcome to the program. Good afternoon. Now with your victory and new city council member Consuelo Martinez there is a Democratic majority on the Escondido City Council. So what's on the Democrats agenda for 2019. Well a lot of people have certainly pointed out that we are three registered Democrats but I think one of the things people have to remember is that not all Democrats are alike. And I think it would be a bad assumption to think that we're going to follow some national agenda or some preconceived notion knowing Consuelo and all as I do. I think the three of us are going to work for the common good of Escondido and we're reasoned people. We understand that compromise will be necessary. We also know that the other two council members are also friends of ours and that we expect that we will work closely together as I said for the common good of the city. One of the things that we are hoping to do is to have more transparency and also more feedback from the citizens and residents of the city. It was just last spring that former Mayor Samma Abed sat with President Trump at the White House talking about Escondido as opposition to the sanctuary state law. Do you think that appearance factored into his defeat. I'm not a social scientist and I'll leave the dissection of the debate were not the debate but the election of why we won or why the change occurred to others. But my personal opinion is yes I think it did have something to do with the with the election. This city is. I think I would argue is a city of that lives somewhere in the center where some lean a little left and others lean a little right on certain issues. But I think more importantly it's a city of faith and values and that I don't feel that the the anti immigration stance played well in the city politics. Escondido though did sign onto the Trump administration's challenge to California's sanctuary state law. I'm wondering now would the city consider revoking that amicus brief. I certainly have that on my list to discuss with the other city council members. Now Mr. Mayor as you know the housing crisis is one of the biggest problems facing the region and all of this state really one proposed housing project is the safari Highlands Ranch development. It would create five hundred fifty homes on land that's just north of the safari park. What is your stance on the project. I've already had a meeting with representatives of Safari highlands and as I told them I said we really we recognize that there are people coming into San Diego County and that we will probably have to find some sort of housing for them. But there are really three three things in my mind that we need to be concerned about. One is the proper use of land. I mean it's it's getting limited it's we're running out of it. The second is strong traffic mitigation. And then finally water. And so I talked to them and I said Well I'm not going to say no as I see the project right now. I'm not I'm not going to be blanket Lee in favor of it. I said I want to make sure that we've strongly considered these those three factors I just mentioned earlier. I also asked them I said Well would you be willing to sit in a room at a table and talk to groups like say the Sierra Club or someone of that more is more of environmental or perhaps concerned about the fire risk and those sorts of things and they told me that they would. And so as we move forward the goal at least is that we have more people who are in the room for these discussions. What type of housing development do you prefer. Do you prefer the kind of infill housing development in more urban areas. I don't have a preference for housing. What whether it's infill or whether it's what we typically see as developers build tract home. My I do feel though that infill is a reality that we need to deal with. But the biggest concern is this is preserving the resources and the of the city as well as the county and that's the best use of land water mitigation as well as traffic mitigation. Now Escondido is majority Latino but historically there are many in the Latino community who say they've felt targeted by city policies like traffic stops that long ago effort to make landlords ask renters for legal documentation. What will you do to restore restore trust between the Latino community and city government. As I think you may know I lived in Mexico City for two years and I feel the void and I had exposure. I worked at the Embassy of the United States in Mexico City and had an opportunity to travel all over the country and the majority of our Latino residents come from that culture or have connections to that culture. And I think it's a wonderful culture and for me I think we shouldn't look at it as a problem but rather something that we could celebrate. And I've already talked with some of the local Latino leaders. We plan to have more meetings as to how we can celebrate that culture and make it an asset for the city and not necessarily be viewed as a problem of the city. Will you support keeping the current police chief. A lot of people came in to me and as you might imagine they have people they think should go and others that need to be hired. And I told them we had an election not a revolution. And I don't intend to fire anyone until they give me reason to fire them. Now the new City Council holds its first meeting this Wednesday. What are you looking forward to the most in this upcoming year. The biggest thing for me is that what we're looking to do is to have more engagement by the residents of the city. I've already talked with some of the city council members and some of the and the city manager about grading committees and commissions that give the people especially who are on the frontlines. This is anything from economic development to people dealing with homelessness or food or shelter anything. A better way to connect with the city and the challenges of the city so that we can work in a more unified manner and ideally a more efficient manner. And I've been speaking with Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara and Mayor thank you so much. Thank you.

An upset victory in Escondido has changed the city council and the political power in that North County city.

Paul McNamara, a Democrat, is Escondido’s new mayor, defeating incumbent mayor and long-time Escondido politician, Republican Sam Abed.

RELATED: The ‘Blue Wave’ Laps At Escondido’s Shores


McNamara was serenaded by a mariachi band after his swearing-in ceremony last week, signaling a new recognition of the city’s majority Latino population.

McNamara discusses the most pressing issues facing Escondido and how he would like to see them addressed, Monday on Midday Edition.

The North County Focus newsletter is your bi-weekly guide to all the news coming from North County, plus a handpicked selection of events and trivia tidbits.