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


As calls for Chula Vista councilmember’s resignation intensify, attention shifts to her SANDAG seat

Chula Vista Councilmember Andrea Cardenas is again facing calls to resign, this time from a group of vocal Chula Vista residents.

The first-term city councilmember was arraigned late last week on charges of fraud and grand theft of federal pandemic funds by San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. Cardenas’ brother, political consultant Jesus Cardenas, faces similar charges.

On Tuesday, ahead of a Chula Vista City Council meeting, more than a dozen residents gathered on the steps of the council chambers to demand that Cardenas step down.


“We must continue to hold her accountable,” said former San Diego police officer and Chula Vista resident Jesse Navarro. “If she has any decency, she should resign.”

The DA has accused Cardenas and her brother of grand theft, fraud and tax evasion relating to $175,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government’s program to support small businesses during the pandemic.

Last week, Mayor John McCann and Deputy Mayor Jose Preciado called for Cardenas’ resignation. She has said she has no plans to step down.

Chula Vista City Councilmember Andrea Cardenas' seat sits empty during a council meeting on Nov. 14, 2023. Cardenas, who has been charged with grand theft and fraud, did not show up to the meeting.
Kori Suzuki for KPBS / California Local
Chula Vista City Councilmember Andrea Cardenas' seat sits empty during the council meeting on Nov. 14, 2023.

Both at Tuesday’s press conference and during the meeting, some residents asked the Council to censure Cardenas and revoke her appointment to the governing board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the county’s transportation planning agency. Cardenas did not show up to the meeting.

“I know a lot of folks would like to see different representation on SANDAG,” said Chula Vista resident Russ Hall, who convened the group of residents.


Cardenas’ critics said their demands were not politically motivated.

Still, many emphasized that they did not trust Cardenas’ fellow Democrats on the City Council and said they wanted McCan, a Republican, to take Cardenas’ seat on the SANDAG board.

In a statement of her own last week, Cardenas said wants a chance to defend herself against the DA’s charges.

“Our American judicial system is built on the fundamental principle that our citizens are innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “As defendants, we are afforded the right to prove our innocence.”

The next court hearing for Cardenas and her brother is scheduled for Jan. 3.