Category Archives: Politics

Dear San Marcos Candidates

Letter to the editor-

Dear San Marcos Candidates,

As a mother of three children, all attending the three most impacted schools in the San Marcos Unified School District, I would like to ask how you would help alleviate the impacted schools and align the city’s growth plan with the school districts size. I was a parent representative on the 2013 attendance boundary committee for San Elijo Elementary.  As a member of the committee, I saw the need of alleviating the impacted schools of Discovery, San Elijo Elementary, and San Elijo Middle was critical.  The boundaries were realigned in an attempt to best address the impacted schools and a recommendation was made in favor of creating a K-8 school. This recommendation did not address the even larger concern, where do all of the elementary and middle school students attend for high school if those multiple schools are at capacity? How do you feed twelve elementary schools with average student populations of 1,000 into four middle schools, and ultimately  into two high school? What happens when more development occurs? I posed the question then to the committee of what  was the capacity of both Mission Hills High School and San Marcos High school.  I was told 2800 and 3200 respectively after additional buildings and portables added.  Surely, creating one K-8 school does not fully address the underlying problem of rapid city development and growth resulting in a larger student population impacting all  school grades. My children attend San Elijo Elementary,  San Elijo Middle,  and San Marcos High each school has the largest student population of their respective grade level school populations. San Elijo Elementary has 1,100 students in attendance,  granted this has decreased significantly by the opening of Double Peak for the 2016-2017 school year. San Elijo Middle has a student population of over 1,900 and is the largest middle school  in the district, whose attendance area includes Carlsbad and San Marcos. San Marcos High school has a student population of 3,200 which is at capacity according to the 2012-2013 attendance boundary committee projection. What happens with the influx of future students that will come with the completed development of the former quarry area, the college, and creek side development.  Where will those students from elementary through high school attend? The San Marcos Unified School district does NOT own any land for future school development. This  was an  issue in the acquiring land and developing Double Peak K -8. San Marcos High school is at its projected capacity and Mission Hills has a student population of 2600 of the 2800 capacity. In addition to the development in San Elijo Hills/Discovery/CSUSM area there has been the addition of multi unit family homes along Norhdal, Mission Rd, and Twin Oaks north of the 78. Those areas are just in City of San Marcos. The San Marcos Unified School District is comprised of  portions of Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, and Unicorporated County areas. That means five seperate areas within the district  have their own city growth design, development, and approval process. I understand all those cities and unicorporated  areas within the district boundary pay taxes to the school district. How do you align reasonable and responsible school growth size when another city or San Marcos itself approves 20, 100, 400 homes for development?

What will your role be in creating a responsible balance between city growth and development as well as maintain an excellent school district and not create overcrowed underfunded schools?

Alexis Barbuto
Voter and Mother of 3 students in San Marcos Unified School District

*** Editors Note-We welcome letters to the editor and political statements from San Marcos Candidates -San Elijo Life


Dear Candidates,

I am responding to your inquiry with regards to the  piece I wrote and was posted on San Elijo Life Facebook. As stated within my letter, I am interested in how you will be able to align the City Council and the School District to provide balanced development and adequate schools for the growing student population in San Marcos. This seems to be a difficult task when all of the North County School Districts are comprised of multiple cities and unincorporated areas that are not solely within the city itself as implied by the name of the school district. Another example beyond San Marcos Unified’s composition, residents in Carlsbad  could live in an area in that city where their children attend either Encinitas Union/San Dieguito Unified for middle and high school, Carlsbad Unified or Oceanside Unified. How will north county cities which are all under rapid development create smart growth to support their school districts, when the school districts themselves were drawn including multiple cities? How can one city tell another to stop developing homes because it will affect another’s school district? Can San Marcos City Council really demand Carlsbad or Escondido to not approve more housing developments because the San Marcos Unified School District does not have land to build another school or currently the schools are overcrowded? The problem is multifaceted the school district boundaries drawn years ago, included multiple municipalities under one educational district roof.

Cities, NOT school districts approve and design development plans.

In addition to the fact the district itself does not own real estate for future development. The city approves plans without looking into whether or not the school district can support more students in certain areas.  Where would a new middle school or high school be developed in the high population density and development areas that drastically need another campus to alleviate the problem? Those areas don’t have land to purchase and build another school or are slated for more homes and businesses. The district is then forced to find a parcel to purchase large enough to sustain a school and traffic needs, but must maintain that school.  Will the San Marcos City Council rezone areas or transfer city owned land to the school district to accommodate land acquisition? What happens when a campus needs to be built within another city in the district to meet the demands of a growing student population such as Escondido or Carlsbad? How will the San Marcos Unified School District be able to support not only purchasing land, developing a school, and maintaining another school both infrastructure costs and administration when the San Marcos City council or any other municipality in the district approves more home development? This isn’t just a build more schools to match the development problem. How can a district support these schools caused by the excessive development

approved solely by the cities that reside in the district? Where will the San Marcos Unified School District obtain revenue to support the educational demands due to the increased student population? Do we just pay more taxes to stop gap the imbalance and shortsighted rapid development without looking into sustainable growth and support for our district? This is obviously a big picture problem that affects the overall quality of life in San Marcos and needs to be addressed.

What will your role be to align two very separate structured government entities for smart growth and educational excellence? Where will the balance be sustained so that development approval supports the schools to enhance the city? What rules and regulations will you seek to reform to support this vision?

Alexis Barbuto
Voter and Mother of 3 students in the San Marcos Unified School District



Wayne Ludwig and his wife Cindy have lived in the San Elijo Hills area of San Marcos since 2002, both working for the Department of the Navy. Wayne currently serves the Navy Region Southwest (NRSW) Region Safety and Health Program Director, providing myriad opportunities to serve the interests of federal, state and local government personnel and taxpayers.

Wayne is running for a seat on the Vallecitos Water Board, Division 5 this November. His 33 years working for the Department of the Defense and Department of Navy have led to an extensive amount of training and education in many disciplines and areas of Public Works operations.

If elected, Wayne’s intentions are to unify the Water Board, provide proactive leadership and reestablish trust and accountability to the board, Vallecitos employees and all rate payers. His plan is to arrest all favoritism, bias and unfair practices that currently plague the board and rate payers. “I am running for election because as a rate payer, and given the present fractious nature of the Board, there are myriad problems I can help fix,” he stated. “Furthermore, the present Board has granted unnecessary and very questionable favors to developers, which only serve to degrade and diminish the future of the Vallecitos Water District.”

You can find out more by visiting his website at or via email at

*San Elijo Life Editors note-This is not an endorsement and we welcome campaign statements from all candidates.

Two candidates enter San Marcos race – The Coast News Group

SAN MARCOS — It appears San Marcos will have an election this November, after two people announced their intent to challenge a pair of incumbents in the fall election. Ruben “RJ” Hernandez and Matthew Stack obtained nomination papers from the San Marcos City Clerk’s office, along with incumbents Sharon Jenkins and Rebecca Jones. Jenkins, a former San Marcos Unified School District board member, is seeking her

READ MORE VIA Source: Two candidates enter San Marcos race – The Coast News Group

City poised to shake up voting system |

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos is poised to become the second North County city to elect City Council members by district, after being threatened with a lawsuit alleging its at-large elections disenfranchise Latino voters.

Mayor Jim Desmond said Tuesday that nothing’s set in stone, but that the proposed change will be hammered out in public hearings in the coming weeks and months. He said it was “prudent” to move to district elections in the face of a potential lawsuit.“I think fighting this is a waste of taxpayer dollars because every city that has challenged this has lost,” Desmond said.The city was put on notice in December when Malibu-based attorney Kevin Shenkman sent a letter saying San Marcos’ elections are “racially polarized” and violate the California Voting Rights Act. He noted that Latinos make up 37 percent of the city’s population, yet no Latinos have been elected to the council in about two decades.Shenkman has sued or threatened to sue other Southern California cities on behalf of Southwest Voter Registration Project, a Latino voting rights organization.Escondido moved to district elections in 2013 after another group threatened a similar lawsuit.“It is our belief that San Marcos’ at-large system dilutes the ability of minority residents — particularly Latinos, a protected class — to elect candidates of their choice, or otherwise influence the outcome of San Marcos’ council elections,” Shenkman said in the letter.

The City Council has been discussing the potential litigation for months in closed session and, on June 14, directed city staff to study possible boundaries for election districts and hire a demographer to create some maps.One option would create four council districts, with the mayor elected in an at-large vote; another option would create five council districts, each electing its own representative. The city has roughly 93,000 residents.At least one district must contain a heavy concentration of Latino voters and would mostly likely include the city’s Richmar neighborhood, straddling state Route 78 and moving west to city limits. READ MORE VIA Source: City poised to shake up voting system |

Desmond announces supervisor run | The Coast News Group

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond has announced that he is running for county supervisor in 2018. Desmond is running in District 5, where longtime supervisor Bill Horn will be termed out of office after serving six terms. He is the first person to announce their candidacy in what is expected to be a crowded field to succeed the controversial longtime supervisor. Desmond in a brief statement on Feb. 4 touted his experience as mayor in San Marcos, where the city has had a period of unparalleled stab

READ MORE VIA Source: Desmond announces supervisor run | The Coast News Group

Vallecitos Water District Board moves forward with annual reorganization, naming Mike Sannella Board President for 2016


Vallecitos Water District Board moves forward with annual reorganization, naming Mike Sannella Board President for 2016

San Marcos, CA – At a regular meeting held on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the Vallecitos Water District (Vallecitos) Board of Directors voted to move forward with their annual reorganization. Mike Sannella was elected unanimously to serve as president and Craig Elitharp to serve as vice president for 2016.

President Mike Sannella, Division 4 representative, was first elected to the District’s Board of Directors in 2014. President Sannella’s involvement in the community includes having served as a City Planning Commissioner, Vice President of the San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, and Vice President of San Diego County Crime Stoppers. He currently works in the Defense and Aerospace industry and has over 17 years of business and security management experience. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and is a graduate of the Leadership North County program also through CSUSM. Sannella resides in San Marcos with his wife Amy and their daughter.

Vice President Craig Elitharp, Division 3 representative, was also elected to the Board in 2014. He retired from the Rancho California Water District in June 2014 with over 24 years of experience managing water and wastewater operations. For the past 10 years, he has served on the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Groundwater, Energy, and Water Quality Committees. Currently, Elitharp works part-time at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants as a senior engineer on various water-related projects and issues for Southern California clients. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry at Syracuse University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He is also a registered civil engineer in the State of California and holds California Department of Public Health certifications as a Grade 5 Water Distribution Operator and Grade 3 Water Treatment Operator. Elitharp and his wife Diana have three children and live in the Walnut Hills area.

Sannella and Elitharp are joined by Directors Betty Evans, Division 1; Jim Hernandez, Division 2; and Hal Martin, Division 5, to form Vallecitos’ five-member Board. The Board meets regularly the first and third Wednesday of the month. Open to the public, the Board meetings start at 4:00 p.m. in Vallecitos’ Administration Building, 201 Vallecitos de Oro, in San Marcos. To increase transparency to ratepayers, Vallecitos airs its public meetings on San Marcos TV. Please visit for a complete programming schedule.

For complete biographies, go to











Letter to the Editor,

The other day I read an editorial by three individuals with 57 years of experience in serving the needs of the community in the past. While we appreciate the service that these individuals have done in the past, San Marcos has moved forward. A new type of leadership is required to help continue to move the district forward into the 21st century.

Stacy Carlson has a strong background in community service. She fought to help protect seniors from predatory lending practices that were encouraged by those in finance, has volunteered for MDA, helps to mentor foster youth and serves on the Proposition K Oversight Committee. Stacy has a strong background in the field of science and technology and runs a successful small business that reflects the future. She will bring these skills and abilities to serve the students of San Marcos Unified and the community of San Marcos.

Pam Lindamood has an exceptional record as a current school board member. She has been a member of the community and involved in San Marcos schools for over 20 years. Her selfless dedication to San Marcos Unified School District, her background in Fine Arts, and her desire to continue to lead SMUSD into a 21st century school district, shows her dedication to our students and schools. Pam Lindamood has shown the proven leadership to continue to improve our community.

Both of these candidates will place the needs of the children and community first in order to facilitate the continued the growth of SMUSD into a vibrant 21st century school district. The teachers of San Marcos Unified, as well as the faculties of CSUSM and Palomar College, strongly support both of these candidates for San Marcos School Board.

As teachers, members of the community, and parents of school age children, we are looking for individuals to represent us, who will show strong leadership in our community, as well as preparing our students for a successful transition into the 21st century. I hope you will join us in voting for Stacy Carlson and Pam Lindamood for San Marcos School Board.

For more information, go to and


Damon and Janet Gidner

Teachers, SEH Residents, and Parents



San Marcos residents encouraged to apply for various commissions and committees

San Marcos City officials are encouraging residents to get involved and make a difference in their community by applying for open positions on several city commissions and committees. Openings currently exist on the Budget Review Committee, Community Services Commission, Planning Commission, San Marcos Community Foundation, San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, Student Neighborhood Relations Commission and the Traffic Commission.

The deadline to apply for each of these openings is Thursday, November 20 by 5:30 pm. Appointments will be made after public interviews are conducted by City Council during its regular meeting on December 9 at 6 pm. Candidates should be prepared to provide a brief presentation discussing their background and qualifications for the desired position.

Detailed eligibility requirements, application instructions and interview requirements are available online at and clicking “Commissions” in the left-hand side navigation bar or by visiting 1 Civic Center Drive.

One position is open on the Budget Review Committee, which conducts a thorough review of the annual operations and capital improvement budget for the City. Meeting as needed, committee members are appointed to three-year terms and serve in an advisory capacity to City Council and city staff.

Three vacancies are open on the City’s Community Services Commission, which has the responsibility of making recommendations and advising the City Council in matters pertaining to the creation, operation, maintenance, management and control on the community recreation programs, of playgrounds and indoor and outdoor recreation, activities and facilities.

Four positions are open on the Planning Commission. This commission works with the planning division and is responsible for evaluating and making decisions on a variety of land use matters.

The San Marcos Community Foundation has four positions open. The Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation providing financial and other assistance program benefiting the City of San Marcos or its residents. The foundation provides grants to a wide variety of nonprofit groups.

Four vacancies are open on the San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, which is purposed to promote economic and business development in support of enhancing the general business climate within the City of San Marcos.

One position are open on the Student Neighborhood Relations Commission. Designed to foster positive communication and partnership between students, residents and businesses, commissioners engage in discussions, solicit community input and recommend actions to promote collaboration, tolerance and mutual respect in the City’s neighborhood communities.

Two vacancies are open on the Traffic Commission, which is responsible for evaluating and making recommendations to City Council and staff regarding the implementation of traffic safety measures and for improving traffic conditions in San Marcos.

For more information about applying for a vacancy, please contact the San Marcos City Clerk at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3145.

For more information about the City’s commissions, please visit

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