Local pastor and Escondido Police Chaplain Joe Garcia has thrown his hat into the ring to challenge incumbent Escondido City Councilmember Olga Diaz in the Third District next summer. The Times Advocate conducted a Q&A with the candidate.
Q: Can you give our readers a little background on yourself?
A: I am a native Californian born in Santa Ana, California. I’m 49 years old, have been married for 24 years to Maria Garcia and have been blessed with three wonderful children, Heather 23, Joseph 20 and Rebekah 17. I have lived in Escondido for close to 20 years and raised my children here. I have been a Church Pastor for 26 years of which 13 have been in Escondido. Heather and Joseph are both graduates of Escondido Charter High School and Rebekah is a senior at Classical Academy High School. I have been a Law Enforcement Chaplain for 12 years, 7 of which have been serving the Escondido Police Department. I was honored to receive the “Volunteer of the Year” award for 2014 from our Police Department. In addition I serve on the Community Services Commission for the City of Escondido.
Q: What are your main concerns in running for this office?
A: Among my main concerns are to bring our city together, develop a strong sense of community, and to provide a voice to all constituents in District 3.
Q: Assuming that Olga Diaz runs again what would you say are the differences between you and her and your philosophy of governing?
A: I believe that government by the people and for the people is the best way to govern. In order to accomplish this, I believe that availability is paramount. I will be available for any constituent that would like to talk to me one morning a week at different locations in District 3. In order to make the best decisions for Escondido I must listen to all constituents and stakeholders. I believe there needs to be more citizen participation in our government. In line with this, I will form a Citizen Advisory Committee to ensure that the voices in district 3 will always be heard.
Q: What would you say are the main issues in this election?
A: As in any election, improving the quality of life of all is foundational to all issues. I believe that neighborhood safety is key. When residents feel safer in the neighborhoods, their quality of life is better. I will support great programs such as the Neighborhood Transformation Project that improve the lives of so many and build strong ties between the community and law enforcement. I also believe that education is another important issue. The quality of education our children receive must be top notch. I want to partner with the Educational Leadership of Escondido in order to continue to improve the quality of education leading to better educational opportunities to our students. Horace Mann once said, “Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men…” Economic growth is another important issue in this election. I believe that economic growth here in Escondido is something that residents want. As we continue to develop economically, there will be more jobs, more revenue, and economic prosperity for Escondido families.
Q: Why should the residents of your district vote for you rather than the incumbent?
A: I believe it’s time for change! I will provide better representation for all in District 3. I will seek to find solutions to problems and challenges faced by district 3 constituents. I will always take the time to listen to residents and stakeholders and aim to make the best possible decision for the district and the City of Escondido. For years as a church pastor I have had to developed skills in Conflict Management and Resolution and those skills will be especially valuable in working with other city leaders. As a City Council Member, my job is to solve problems and help foster a positive working environment that will encourage creativity in developing solutions to the issues that affect the lives of the residents. I am confident that I will be able to accomplish this.
Q: How do you intend to reach out to the voters in the coming year?
I plan to reach out to the voters the good, old-fashioned way by knocking on doors, making phone calls, and shaking hands. In other words, meeting people, being available, and developing a relationship of trust. Nothing beats hard work!
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