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Meet the District 1 and 5 candidates for the San Juan Capistrano City Council
By Allison Jarrell
This November, San Juan Capistrano residents in Districts 1 and 5 will choose from two and six candidates, respectively, to fill two seats on the City Council.
With no incumbents running for reelection, District 1 residents will have a choice between Sergio Farias and Nathan Banda, and District 5 residents will choose from candidates Larry Kramer, Jim Schneider, Robert Parks, Mechelle Lawrence Adams, Ronda Mottl and Brian Maryott.
In the coming weeks, The Capistrano Dispatch will be providing ongoing coverage of the election, including publishing the candidates’ responses to our question-and-answer series about issues facing the city, culminating in our special election issue Friday, Oct. 14.
To kick off The Dispatch’s 2016 election coverage, candidates for City Council submitted statements this week on why they’re running. Those eight statements are compiled below in the same order the candidates’ names will appear on the general election ballot.
Sergio Farias, Small Business Owner
As a lifelong resident of the city, and specifically of District 1, I feel I am the most qualified in addressing issues within our neighborhood and the community as a whole.
I will bring my problem-solving skills as a business owner and as one who can identify with our neighborhood residents and their concerns. I am the only fluent Spanish-speaking candidate for this district.
As your Council member, I will bring your concerns before the Council and city staff. I strongly feel we, as a city, should address community concerns such as the local street parking issues and improved traffic circulation.
We must meet the additional recreational needs of our neighborhoods, like more soccer fields and a new community pool.
I will work closely with our sheriff’s deputies to ensure the safety of our residents.
Our water rates are out of control. Every city resident is impacted. Instead of lowering our water rates, the Council is involved in lawsuits that they continue to lose and pay millions out in losses of our city tax money.
I believe in protecting our open space and ensuring multi-use trail access for residents. Our roads and infrastructure repair need to be a priority. We need to remove the choke point on Ortega Highway for all of our residents and school children. I believe in well-planned growth that protects our heritage and puts our residents first, not outside interests.
I am a City Council candidate for District 1 to ensure we have a place at the decision-making table and that our issues and concerns are addressed. I feel the majority of our current Council has not considered our neighborhoods a priority and that must change.
I trust you will support me in this endeavor.
Nathan Banda, Businessman/City of San Juan Capistrano Commissioner
As a lifelong resident of this historic town, I can truly understand and appreciate our city’s motto, “preserving the past, to enhance the future.” For 10 generations, my family has had the great fortune of living in San Juan Capistrano. My Latino and Native American heritage will give our City Council a unique and rarely seen perspective, important to guiding the future of our town.
For the last nine years, I have served as a Cultural Heritage Commissioner, where I have worked tirelessly to preserve our history while reinforcing our economic vitality. In recent years, I’ve focused my attention on establishing Capistrano Grind Skate Park while running the Native American Education Program in association with the Capistrano Unified School District. I am the only candidate who speaks Juaneño, and I’m also an avid supporter of our Chamber of Commerce, serving as an ambassador to welcome the newest members of our business community.
As your City Councilman, I will utilize my knowledge of City Hall to improve public safety, ensure the efficiency of essential services, while attracting strong community relevant businesses and jobs. It is imperative that we resolve our traffic and parking issues while improving our public parks to provide our residents a better quality of life. Additionally, it is important to me that we revive the San Juan Capistrano Citizen Leadership Program so we may prepare members of our community to take roles of responsibility in the future.
I will be an approachable and attentive steward of our collective vision for the future while working to ensure that all voices are heard. It is time to elect someone who truly understands this community, a homegrown resident who will represent your needs on our City Council. www.bandasjc.com.
Larry Kramer, Retired Submarine Captain
After 30 years of service to our country, I retired as a Naval Submarine Captain. In 2002, my wife, Chris, and I moved to this beautiful valley of San Juan Capistrano to be close to our family.
My commitment to public service in our community began with my involvement in the local Rotary Club, then as a City Transportation Commissioner, followed by the Open Space Committee, and finally as an elected Council member and city mayor. I have also been a classroom volunteer for over 10 years.
I am running for City Council because I am very concerned with the direction and attitude of our current City Council majority. They have done nothing to improve the property values of our homes and their actions may soon have a negative impact. Foremost is the huge litigation liability the Council has placed upon the residents of our wonderful historic town. I will reduce legal costs and use the money for additional police officers and long-deferred street maintenance.
I support carefully considered changes in our Historic Town Center in keeping with our heritage and the preservation of our historic structures, and I will work hard to ensure that we get two four-star hotels in the Historic Town Center. I will work to ensure that we obtain desperately needed additional parking downtown.
As your representative for the Fifth District, I will work to remove the Ortega Highway choke point and ensure public use of the Riding Park and Reata Park. I will work for a pocket park at San Juan Creek Road and La Novia.
As the candidate with the most management and leadership experience, not only as a Naval Officer but also locally, I ask for your support on Nov. 8.
Jim Schneider, Professional Geologist/Professor
As I see it, the current and long-term top priority for our city is to remain solvent. Expenditures are rising—police, pensions and attorneys. How will our city raise money in the future? Others propose more tax. I do not.
Other priorities: annexing the water plant (O.C. LAFCO), resolving major lawsuits (water, land use, etc.), CIP’s, finding a better solution to the proposed SDG&E substation, increase business, fix zoning, keep open space and re-examine our Long Term Strategic Plan and Master Plan.
San Juan Capistrano is in competition for business! What drives them here to SJC? We do not have a harbor, pier, major sports complex, theater or major shopping in our downtown. I think we need to go beyond our current SJC Master Plan and Long Term Strategic Plan for long-term revenue. I have an idea for just that.
I refuse funding and fight my campaign on city issues and resolutions. This is a grassroots-style city and requires Council members be in-touch with residents’ ideas and issues rather than personal agendas. I am running because I remain dissatisfied with current policies and have concern for the future of our city. I will represent the people of this city and District 5 vehemently.
Credentials? I am a problem solver. I work hard. I am honest and direct. I believe in family, neighbors, historical preservation, sense of community, justice, equity and inclusiveness. I am a business owner, professional geologist, geology professor, commercial diver and former Marine (USMC). I have vast experience in business—contracts, bids, contractors, safety, HR, QA/QC and completion of work to the tune of many millions. I follow through on everything, and always finish what I start. I read the fine print. I read owner’s manuals—for everything.
My name? Jim Schneider—please vote for me in November.
Robert Parks, Retired Disposal Manager (DROPPED OUT OF RACE)
I am a Commissioner for the city’s Parks, Recreation, Senior and Youth Services Commission, and I would like to be the new voice for the city.
I’ve been here in San Juan Capistrano for more than 35 years, and I have been involved in SJC Little League for more than 20 years. I have managed, coached and given private lessons for the boys and girls in our area for free. I also do baseball clinics for free. I have been a part of our community for a long time and I love this city! It’s become a part of me.
I have so many ideas that could help us flourish and grow. One thing we have to remember—we were an old city, a sleepy city, but we’ve become a young city. We have more young people moving to San Juan Capistrano. I’m a strong supporter of finishing the widening of Ortega Highway and Del Obispo. I also support two beautiful hotels, which will bring a lot of new jobs.
Also, Los Angeles is bidding for the Olympic Games, and where do you think the equestrians will be? In our riding park. My goal is to keep our lovely city beautiful. Our city has so much to offer. We need a new voice in our city, a strong voice. I believe I can be the one. We do not need the same people running with old philosophies. It’s time for a change. I also support our veterans and seniors who made our city what it is today.
Thank you, Robert Parks. You can call me anytime at 949.378.2587.
Mechelle Lawrence Adams, Director, Historic Mission
As Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano, Chairwoman of the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission, 20-year resident, and someone who has been actively involved in the community for the last three decades, I care deeply about our town.
I am running for City Council because I feel I can make a difference by putting my extensive knowledge of the city, strong community and business relationships and proven management experience to work to benefit all of our community. As a strong, passionate and experienced advocate, I will work hard to have a positive impact on our city’s future.
During my 13 years managing the Mission, I successfully developed local, regional and statewide partnerships, deploying innovative strategies to celebrate and preserve our history, while practicing necessary fiscal conservatism.
With my foundation, I have successfully led the effort to raise over $10 million dollars to preserve Serra Chapel, the historic South Wing, West Wing Building, Mission art and artifact collection, and most recently the $3.3 million Gate House Preservation Project which included the rehabilitation of the original 1919 ticket booth and construction of a new Mission store.
Prior to the Mission, I served as a city planner and economic development manager at San Juan Capistrano City Hall for 12 years, learning and helping to make government work more efficiently for our residents and businesses.
As a mother of three SJC-raised children, I have first-hand experience with our parks, equestrian facilities, schools, churches, library and historic downtown. These valuable assets must be nurtured and protected for our seniors, families and children.
I am the only candidate with a 25-year track record serving SJC every day and want to offer my expertise to make it even better. I humbly invite your support. You may call me at 949.441.0265.
Ronda Mottl, Media Executive
The reason I’m running for City Council is to be the voice of the consensus in my district. If elected, my number one job is to listen to my constituents about their concerns—from within the neighborhood to citywide.
The challenges for the city are numerous, such as a projected budget deficit in 2018-2019 due to an increase in the Sheriff’s contract, ongoing litigation and overall increasing expenses to run the city. I am a proponent for reasonable development that will benefit our city in tax dollars and resources to help balance the budget. Another issue facing the city is our water; we outsource our gas, power and cable—why should a city of 35,000 be in the water business?
I am running against very passionate and qualified candidates, but my unique proposition for the community is that I have a strong business background in working with Fortune 500 Consumer Packaged Goods Companies on the West Coast. In addition, I am a realtor, former president of Little Balboa Island Property Association and former membership chairman for the Orange County Young Republicans. I received my MBA from UCLA at night while working for Nestlé during the day.
If elected, I would like to have quarterly town hall meetings in my district where I can review and discuss current issues and have a guest speaker from the city with the sole purpose of keeping my district informed and providing an opportunity to voice your concerns.
If elected, I want to help restore the trust in our city government. A vote for Ronda Mottl is a vote for your voice to be heard and represented in City Council. A vote for Ronda Mottl is to maintain open space and to preserve our historic cultural jewel of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano. Mottl4sjc.com.
Brian Maryott, Financial Services Executive
My wife and I are raising our family here in San Juan Capistrano, and like most residents of this great city, we are enamored by its historic, hometown charm. It would be my honor to represent District 5 on our City Council. I currently serve as a Commissioner on our Trails and Equestrian Commission, and previously served San Juan’s Little League as a board member and treasurer.
I work in the financial services industry, where I am a senior vice president and regional manager with Wells Fargo Advisors. Earlier, I spent several years in state government as both a legislative aide and staff director. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from American International College in Massachusetts.
Looking forward, we must protect and maintain our city’s bold commitment to open space. As a community, we should work together to identify suitable and thoughtful redevelopment, and strive to ensure economic and cultural vitality in our great downtown area. I will work diligently with our City Council, city staff and local experts on addressing our core services as well, with our challenging water supply and cost issues being of paramount importance. It is time to give our residents and our modest aquifer a break, and exit the water and sewer business.
Additionally, we must mitigate the potentially expensive lawsuits plaguing our city, while collaborating with the City Council, city staff and local citizenry to avoid future risk. Our local government should be inclusive and collaborative, not divisive.
As your City Council member, I will devote my financial expertise to improving the efficient, conservative use of our taxpayer dollars, while maintaining a regular, open dialogue with you, my friends and neighbors.