City of Lemon Grove Candidate Highlight: George Gastil.
Currently EnjoyLemonGrove.com is waiting on responses from the remaining candidates from our requests, today we will be posting the response from George Gastil who is running for the Lemon Grove City Council member seat this coming election. Below are the questions we have asked and the answers the candidate has provided.
Q1. What is your name and what is your relevant experience related to qualifications for being a City Council member?
"George Gastil. I served as a City Council Member in Lemon Grove from 2008-2016. I also served on the Lemon Grove School Board from 1998-2008."
Q2. Why do you believe the people of Lemon Grove should elect you?
"Our city is facing major challenges and we need experienced leaders on the Council. When I was on the Council I worked effectively with other leaders and we got a lot done together. We achieved a historic consolidation in emergency services with La Mesa and El Cajon, saving money and improving service. We also reformed our city pension system and paid off pension liability when we had the ability to lower debt. These things might not sound exciting, but the work we did has made a big difference in helping the city survive. We also put together the first community health element in our city's General Plan and we did some of the most important work toward a climate action plan (completed shortly after I left). Looking ahead, we have a long road of tough choices. Many people do not understand the dire situation the city is in financially, but people who do understand the situation are eager to help."
Q3. What are your primary objectives if you are elected as a Lemon Grove City Council member?
"1) Improve our budget situation so we can maintain vital city services; 2) promote economic development and support new business as well as existing businesses; 3) work closely with the County and regional government to promote health and safety, affordable housing, quality public transportation, and stronger policies for environmental protection."
Q4. Are you concerned about building a better relationship between law enforcement and local community members? What would you do for building community support for law enforcement?
"Yes. Mayor Vasquez took a step in the right direction by calling for a gathering of Mayors to meet with the Sheriff's Department, to facilitate a stronger dialogue with the communities they serve. I am eager to support any effort to improve ongoing communication and also to recognize where the Department needs to do better. The Deputies have great respect for me because I helped lead the recent effort for a sales tax measure primarily devoted to maintaining strong public safety. I can build on that relationship in my efforts to improve service and better relationships in our community."
Q5. Considering the city is having issues with its budget, what are your ideas for solving these issues?
"I have suggested the city work on three distinct tracks to improve the situation: 1) Continue to promote economic development to bring in more revenue. Rather than just focusing on getting businesses that generate sales tax, we also need to focus on making the city cleaner and more vibrant to attract visitors as well as more residents with disposable income. 2) Continue to find creative ways to get the most out of our dollars. For example, I applaud the city's decision a few years ago to hire a park ranger to promote safety in our parks and handle minor infractions. (A city employee costs far less per hour than a Sheriff's Deputy...and the city also has more direct contact with a city employee.) 3) Communicate more effectively with residents and find out what kind of effort they will support to gain more revenue for the city. I recently helped lead an effort for a sales tax measure, and I am always happy to explain why....but regardless of what kind of revenue idea I think is best, we cannot succeed without the support of the voters."
Q6. Measure J is up for vote this election: what is your opinion on this, will you be voting for or against it, and why?
"I would prefer to leave this to the voters to decide. That is what I have said about previous cannabis measures. I am happy to work hard for whatever policies the voters want to implement."
Q7. On a personal note, so the people of Lemon Grove can learn more about you: What are your favorite places to eat in Lemon Grove, and what would you say are your favorite activities or hobbies?
"Our family favorite for take-out is First Chinese Express (on Broadway near Dollar Tree). The Kung-Pao shrimp is amazing, and so is the veggie chow-mein. We have not sat down in a restaurant for quite a while but I have fond memories of Anna's Family Restaurant...they know how I like my garden burger. My favorite activities are hiking and visiting interesting places (usually in San Diego County). I usually go to places with one or two family members or friends."