The six candidates for mayor of Chula Vista participated in a forum in which they presented their points of view in response to questions posed by young local technology education students.
The candidates are Zaneta Encarnación, organizer and chief of staff for Southwestern College; Jill Gálvez, current city councilmember and former personal director of a corporation; Ammar Campa Najjar, former congressional candidate, and former White House interim; Spencer Cash, veteran, businessman; John McCann, small businessman, and city councilmember; and Rudy Ramírez, businessman and former local councilmember.
All of them responded in turn to the same responses and, in their responses, agreed on plans to support youth, small Hispanic businesses, small local businesses, maintain the budget for the police, oppose a new tax on miles traveled to drivers and balance the development of the western area with that of the eastern part of the city.
These are their answers on what, if elected mayor, each of them would do about the homeless in Chula Vista, the issue on which they most openly expressed their positions.
John McCann said that he would continue efforts such as his participation in creating the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) program. In addition, representatives of civil organizations and police officers work together to ensure the nonprofit person's safety from the
McCann said that a successful case of that program was that of Mirna, a woman who for two years lived in the vicinity of a bank in Eastlake in which the HOT was able to give the attention she needs.
Rudy Ramírez recalled that in a recent talk with Rosy Vásquez, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Community Through Hope. She told him that the city of Chula Vista had invested 10 million dollars in the homeless in the last three or four years.
Ramirez said Mirna's case could be successful, "but I honestly don't see much progress in addressing the homeless problem."
"We know that we need to solve the homeless problem, and for that, we need to have the resources but also integrate our neighborhoods and control crime," said Ramírez.
Ammar Campa Najjar proposed looking at "the different causes of homelessness; we note those of disorders and substance abuse, but there are people who have been victims of domestic abuse, or who are one check away from losing their home and being homeless.
He said that "different causes need different solutions," said Campa Najjar.
He talked about a particular case in which a homeless young man had a job and an opportunity to improve. Still, the young man felt unfamiliar with his new environment until a for-profit group helped him understand.
Spencer Cash stated that "nonprofits are the best at serving the homeless and leading the effort."
Cash introduced the idea of helping homeless people take advantage of student housing programs through organizations and providing resources for homeless people to become self-sufficient.
Zaneta Encarnación recalled that the woman McCann mentioned, Mirna, had family in Eastlake. "Our homeless people and our people in shelters are members of our community; sometimes, they are our family, our friends, or our neighbors," Encarnación said.
"When I was a teenager, from the age of 13, I was a homeless girl for two years," Encarnación revealed, "and I can assure you that I knew the whole spectrum of why people are homeless; the two things they need are privacy and security."
Encarnación proposed that nonprofit organizations lead the effort.
The nomination period for the mayoral candidates of Chula Vista closes on March 11; the primaries are on June 7. The election will be on the first Tuesday of November, and the outgoing mayor, Mary Casillas Salas, will leave office in the first week of December.