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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Esther Sanchez Is First Woman And First Latina To Be Elected Mayor Of Oceanside

 November 10, 2020 at 11:11 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Oceanside is San Diego. County's third largest city after San Diego in Chula Vista. It has traditionally been seen as a conservative town. It shares a border with camp Pendleton, but Oceanside voters have elected a new mayor who is a Democrat Astro Sanchez is also the city's first Latina mayor and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Maria Sanchez. Congratulations and welcome to Medallia. Speaker 2: 00:23 Thank you, Alison. Thank you so much. Um, it's an exciting time in ocean side. Well, yeah, Speaker 1: 00:29 That's a lot of firsts. What, what's your reaction to being the first woman and the first Latina to be here? Speaker 2: 00:35 I think that a lot of what we have in Oceanside includes the magnificent diversity that we have and growing up in ocean side, um, actually my dad grew up in Oceanside, so when I grew up in OSHA, they were maybe 30,000 people. And so I still feel that it's a small town, even though it's grown to be over 174,000. And for me, it's about the people. And I think that, uh, you know, people elected me because of who I am, but to be the first Latina and the first, um, woman is truly historic. So yeah, Speaker 1: 01:13 You've been on the council for 20 years and you've seen a lot of changes. What does your election say about what you think Oceanside wants to see in the future? Speaker 2: 01:23 Believe that ocean ciders would like to see some of the small town kind of characteristic stay, um, which is what my sense of it is and the way I try to bring us back the character to maintain that character. Um, so I think that that, because of that, I think that, uh, people want to give me that chance, the tend to want to give me that chance. Um, so in terms of, you know, we, we would like to keep kind of the mom and pop type character for the downtown and also kind of try to address the traffic in our, you know, in our more Eastern parts, especially of the city. And we're having a terrible time in terms of jobs. The jobs to residents ratio has really gone far beyond what we should have, let it go. So we need jobs, we need affordable housing, we need to address our homeless issues. And I think that that's what I've been talking about, especially the last few years. And, uh, I think that that that's what the people want and that's why they elected me. Speaker 1: 02:26 Well, let's talk about homelessness. What, what do you think is the first thing that needs to be done? Speaker 2: 02:30 We need to provide a shelter and maybe I should should say shelters because it just can't be one. We have traditionally the council majority has suggested that the churches can take that responsibility over. We were down to just one organization and the bread of life being able to do that. It's a very difficult thing to do because churches are not a set up to, to have showers and do beddings. And, you know, with, with the funding that's available, it's five to $7 per bed. And it's, that's just not something that anyone can do. So we need shelters. We need to be the leadership on this. Um, we do have some private individuals who've been wanting, wanting to do this since we have been pretty much inactive. So, um, I'm thinking also day centers to try to get folks indoors and try to see how we can help, you know, lower that the numbers down to what is the most difficult to address and that includes mental health issues. And Speaker 1: 03:33 What do you propose to do to attract more jobs to Oceanside? Speaker 2: 03:37 Well, it, it, it all ends up being a land use issue. We have a general plan that pretty much our forefathers and sisters laid out a plan that would include industrial commercial. And several of those areas have over time, been converted into residential. And so the remaining, uh, industrial and commercial really needs to maintain that status. And what we need to do is develop job centers, which is what other cities have done. Um, this is something that we need to make as a priority. I think we have excellent staff. Um, we, we need to make, you know, give them that direction and, and work with staff in making that happen. Speaker 1: 04:24 Sanchez, are you concerned about the city's finances as a result of the COVID-19? Speaker 2: 04:29 I am. And you know, this is kind of a silver lining that we're, you know, becoming this bedroom communities in terms of our revenues. Uh, the, the tax space has mostly relied on property taxes and sales tax. And we were just beginning to rely on tot and especially with re re with regard to vacation rentals. That's something very recent. So we we've actually fared pretty well because of that, but you know, how long we can sustain this, because we did do a job freeze and, uh, pretty much eliminated our maintenance and operations funds. And we, we are spending some reserves, um, how long we can do that. You know, I, I definitely join in and others really appreciating the fact that we are looking at a vaccine that's what, 90% perhaps, um, that, and that will be free. I mean, I think that, you know, that news comes at a really, really critical time. No, Speaker 1: 05:29 The Oceanside is becoming a destination for many visitors and tot the transient occupancy tax could be affected too. Um, do you see the future of Oceanside as a, as a destination for visitors? Speaker 2: 05:43 I do. I do, especially, um, for, uh, those that are choosing not to travel say outside where a hop, skip and away from several inland places to come to Oceanside, we work really hard to maintain a clean beach. And, um, we're at this time talking about how to, uh, make it possible to have more sand in our beaches, but at the same time, I think we, you know, this was an election. I think the voters are also saying, okay, don't, don't just think about tourism, think about us. Um, so it's a balance. It's, it's definitely a balance. And, and, and our, I think the key is to maintain a good balance. Speaker 1: 06:27 Now, you strongly opposed a new development in Morro Hills, the North river farms project, the voters rejected it, and it would have added more than 500 new homes to the city's roster. Uh, the state of California is requiring the city to build thousands of new homes in the next decade to, to meet, to growing population. Where in the city, do you want new housing to be built? Speaker 2: 06:46 W w we have a lot of infill, uh, places where we're housing, higher density, housing could be built, and certainly it would make a lot better sense if it's near services, existing services. That's what made this project out on our farm on a farm, um, extremely unattractive. Uh, the staff have, you know, recommended against it because it did not, it was not gonna be able to provide us, um, really, um, any requirements that we are being, um, you know, that the state is demanding, that we fill. So it, it would have been in a place that had absolutely zero infrastructure improvements, no water, sewer roads, it would have been, uh, it certainly would have been an impact to the general fund, as well as, um, on services. I was very concerned about what it would do to water bills, for example, and, uh, just the traffic that, you know, over 7,000 additional daily trips onto 76, when it's already over, you know, congested, you know, the fact that it was turned down by staff and also by the planning commission, uh, you know, really hit home that, uh, this was not a project that, that would take us to the next level. Speaker 2: 07:57 So, no, Speaker 1: 07:57 You are a Democrat. The other four Oceanside city council members who've emerged from the election are perhaps more pro growth and development than yourself. Uh, the mayor is just one vote on five person council. How do you plan to build consensus with the County? Speaker 2: 08:13 Well, as, as you mentioned, I have been around for, uh, you know, 20 years on the council, but this is a place that I was born and raised. I've. Um, even beyond that, I had spent, I've spent time in San Diego and elsewhere in the County and developed relationships with other leadership. So what I'm hoping is that, you know, as a leader that has, you know, good relationships in the region, um, that I will really move us forward. Um, I think it is a message being sent to us and, you know, there's another election two years from now. So, you know, it's, it doesn't, you know, I don't feel that what happened just this past election is saying, Oh yeah, we want these, you know, kind of radical growth issues to continue. I am not against growth. I am for smart growth and ensuring that we are able to continue to provide a certain level of quality of service, um, quality of care to our residents, um, whoever they are. And I think for me coming from, you know, uh, one of the poor neighborhoods in Oceanside, I want to see, uh, changes that will be proactive and provide even more opportunities to our, to our community. Our, our youth is very diverse and the future of the city depends on their success. So, um, it's, I think it's, it's time. We, you know, reassessed and I'm hoping that we can do that as a, as a council and as a community, Speaker 1: 09:42 We've been speaking with estro Sanchez who is poised to become Oceanside's first woman and first Latina mayor there. Sanchez. Thank you so much. Thank you, Alison. Speaker 3: 09:52 Okay.

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Oceanside is San Diego County’s third largest city after San Diego and Chula Vista. It has traditionally been seen as a conservative town, but Oceanside voters have elected a new mayor who is a Democrat.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments