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Cody Campbell: highly motivated, aiming to become new mayor of Vista CA

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Cody Campbell, elected to a city council position in 2012, is a candidate running for Mayor this year. He made clear in a recent interview that, while it is fine for politicians to get together and discuss personal and family concerns, he really just wants to focus attention on the issues, as he sees it, for the people of Vista, California. Or as he said it to me:

"... let's talk about the real issues that are hard to solve."

One of those issues is the current effort of five local cities to officially position the North County region for business and job creation, and to collaborate "... to bring prosperity to our region through economic development" as the CityofCarlsbad states it. The initial research phase (see the online Vista Newsletter of Winter 2013 OurVista) has been concluded and current focus is now on marketing the North San Diego County region along the 78 Freeway.

As stated in the Vista CityResolution of May 2013, the Memorandum of Understanding for funding between the five cities is with North Star Destination Strategies. It states:

"The cities of Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista (“Cities”) intend to collaborate to develop a brand for North County and the Highway 78 corridor, and the Cities have negotiated and desire to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose of jointly funding the branding program."

Wants new jobs, not just 'a pretty logo'

Council member Campbell says clearly that he does not want to see money spent on the effort and then have no better situation made for residents looking to improve their lives, jobs and opportunities while "everybody pats themselves on the back ...." To quote the councilman further:

"... at the end of the day do we attract new jobs or do we just have a pretty logo and tagline?"

He does protest what he views as the "shortsightedness" of previous leadership in Vista, stating that it is "one of my biggest frustrations." When asked for an example, Campbell mentions previous city leadership of forty-five years ago opting to pass on the Plaza Camino Real mall.

Currently, the mall is undergoing a $300 million makeover, and according to Westfield online it will be rebranded as "Westfield Carlsbad." Vista could have been the original site for this, but city leadership opted not to have it, Campbell says, and bemoans the loss of additional revenue it would have generated for city coffers over the years.

A more recent lost opportunity, Campbell says, was the city choosing to pass on a deal with Reach Air Medical Service in establishing a base in Vista. The helicopters would have provided emergency air ambulance service and brought in additional trained personnel, Campbell says. (Reach Air now does have a base in nearby Oceanside.)

But Campbell does believe there is a need to "work more collaboratively" with other cities.

Campbell in fact based his 2012 council campaign on doing more, stating:

"We must challenge ourselves to make a difference at the local level - to protect public safety, create jobs and balance our city's budget."

The goal he had in mind, also conveyed in that candidate statement, was that his aim would be set high, as he wants "... to set Vista apart as a shining example of fiscal responsibility and innovation."

Well-spoken, politically savvy

Campbell impressed many in the 2012 city council campaign as being a well-spoken, bright young man, who is also quite politically savvy. As a graduate of local Vista schools and the owner of a business -- he runs a printing and campaign consulting company-- Campbell is not shy about stating his mind.

Indeed last December, as noted in a previous examiner story, Campbell accused the current mayor of not only being "unfit" but also of trying to "silence" him. He did it from his city council seat, and it drew a warning from fellow council member Dave Cowles, who cautioned Campbell about "insulating yourself as someone working against the rest of the council." Cowles then also said "none of us ran on a ticket of overthrowing City Hall."

But the councilman also stated his concerns about an incident in April involving a joint fundraiser with Jim Wood, candidate for county supervisor running against Bill Horn, held in the Vista Civic Center Community Room.

Apparently it was attended by Mayor Judy Ritter and Council member Amanda Rigby, but Campbell did not think it permissible, per the regulations from the Ralph M. Brown Act, for them to be there. The general point of the legislation is, according to online LegInfo:

"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

Campbell expressed concern over the rules, regarding the meeting of a quorum of colleagues, and the three members all being there at the event together. He stated it was a private by-invitation event, but then it was also posted online at woodforsupervisor. Nevertheless, Campbell said he was taken aback at their attendance. They were asked to leave, but they declined.

When asked about the matter the Communications Officer for the City of Vista Andrea McCullough stated in an email:

"The City does not have a statement, because the City does not comment on non-city issues."

Smokers, ash cans, et cetera

There has been noticeable tension at times among the council members. One issue that Campbell focuses on is the matter of smoking and the efforts by a fellow council member to put ashcans in the Downtown area.

Campbell mentions Mother Earth Brewery LLC (Tap House - 206 Main Street - 760 - 726-2273) to make the point that businesses can do well and also have a smoking ban. Eventhough they are "required by law" to forbid smoking, he says, "they're packed." With only "7-8% in our community" who actually smoke, Campbell continues, why make everyone else go elsewhere to avoid the smoke. "You have a few bad apples who ruin it for everybody."

So, while he thinks "it just makes good business sense," Campbell questions the effort made by colleague Amanda Rigby to put in ashcans in the Downtown. It sends a "bad message" Campbell states, and he would rather just issue citations to people who litter, he says, if that is the issue.

Credits 'quality staff' and State

The councilman credits "our quality staff" and the state of California for some of the important work done in Vista. He mentions the South Santa Fe project:

"We're starting to see some of that [growth] with no real input so much from the council but from the quality staff we have here in the city.... But that's really a state-driven project as well, because of the housing fund and the affordable tax credit for those properties. Without that, it would still be just the way it was. So I think it is important to recognize the efforts of staff that were put in to make those projects happen, but also recognize that there was a lot of resistance from the council too...."

From his campaign website this year, Campbell states that he is "... backed by a wide-range of community and business leaders and elected officials, Republican and Democrat alike, including Speaker-to-be of the State Assembly Toni Atkins (D), Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood (R), and numerous members of local City Councils, College Governing Boards, and other local agencies."

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