Interview with Mike Preston candidate for San Marcos City Council
Here is an interview with incumbent Mike Preston who is running for San Marcos City Council. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for council the answer the same set of questions.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
I realize that in this election year there is an anti-incumbent mood. However, unlike the federal, state, and many other local governments, San Marcos has bucked the trends for many years by balancing budgets, improving public services, adding Parks and trails without raising taxes. I believe my fiscal conservatism and independent voice are assets that have benefited San Elijo Hills and San Marcos. For instance when I introduced the Parks and trails master plan years ago it required tenacity to overcome the objections of other council members and the development community to make it the reality we all enjoy today. I fought hard to get Twin Oaks Valley/ San Elijo road completed and with it the opening of fire station #4. The extension of Twin Oaks/San Elijo road also enticed Albertson’s to open their store in San Elijo Hills. I believe my experience, fiscal conservatism, and independence will be needed as we move the city forward in these challenging times.
How can the council help address aggressive cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
I have advocated for years the necessity of at least one more motorcycle patrol to enforce traffic problems throughout the city. More aggressive traffic enforcement in problem areas will help this issue.
What is your position on Proposition K?
I am neutral on Prop K. I believe it is a personal decision on whether you want to raise your taxes to build and rehabilitate schools. I have chosen not to use my position to influence voters because I recognize how difficult it is for some to increase their taxes when they may be losing their jobs and houses.
How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?
I think it is difficult to use the governmental stick when the economy is more the problem than the willingness of the developer to complete the downtown. I have asked city staff to review our permit processes to determine if we can be more user friendly to new and existing businesses that want to expand. The cost and time of the permitting process has been a hindrance to some businesses. Additionally, I think the city can be actively involved in advertising the city as a great place to shop. This project, if approved, could entice new retailers to the city and the San Elijo Hills downtown area.
What is your position on changes to the San Marcos general plan?
The general plan update will guide the build out of San Marcos for the next 20 – 30 years. The significant issues to be decided are population increase, traffic impacts and mitigation, and the balance of commercial, residential, office, and industrial development.
The build out of San Marcos will require us to be vigilant on how we mitigate the impacts to our existing infrastructure, especially traffic. The mitigation of these traffic impacts will be a key focus of mine as we process the approval of a new general plan.
Another area that will be important to me is the balance of new commercial, residential, office, and industrial development. While commercial provides the city with an important revenue stream, I think it is important to also create job opportunities via industrial and office development.
What is your position on future housing and commercial development around San Elijo Hills (Creekside District, and university area projects, recycling plant, Quathaven and Attebury road area)?
I am excited about building a new downtown San Marcos (Creekside District, and university area projects). My primary concern is how we mitigate the traffic impacts so that these new projects do not worsen peak hour traffic in San Marcos. I have not seen any plans for the recycling plant, Questhaven and Attebury road areas, so it is difficult to comment in any specificity. I believe that whatever is proposed and presented for those areas should be publicly vetted and be of a quality that San Marcos can accept.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?
Insure that San Marcos remains fiscally strong so that we can afford the improvements to our quality of life; like Parks and trails.
Continue to improve emergency services; law enforcement response times, gang and graffiti enforcement, and fire protection.
Continue to add Parks and trails.
Insure that we continue to improve traffic flow through new and expanded streets and roads, high tech traffic synchronization, and traffic enforcement.
Would you care to comment on the recent excessive compensation concerns for San Marcos city staff?
“Fifty of the 88 employees who earned more than $100,000 last fiscal year were firefighters, many of whom entered that salary range with overtime that increased their total compensation by 15 to 30 percent” (NCT).
We made a decision to pay more overtime rather than hire more employees. This actually resulted in a savings (recruitment, training, and benefits) and lessens the need for potential layoffs down the road.
Additionally, we pay our employees longevity pay which most cities do not. This helps us retain good people and saves on recruitment and training costs. We balance this with fewer employees working harder (we have one of the lowest employee to population ratios in the county) and by contracting out wherever possible (street sweeping, landscape maintenance, etc).
If you examine our bottom line, operating expenses versus population, then we again are one of the lowest in the county.
We will have to address pensions this fiscal year and negotiate a reasonable compromise that insures a highly motivated work force and sustainable pensions. I will be open-minded about pension reform and my first allegiance is to the taxpayers and citizens of San Marcos.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
Better traffic enforcement and control.
Developing a retail strategy that attracts new customers and businesses.
Insuring that the new creekside and University projects do not worsen peak hour traffic in San Elijo Hills and San Marcos.
How will you clean up the campaign signs after election? will they be recycled?
I personally drive around and collect all of my “small” campaign signs and then recycle them. My yard signs in neighborhoods will be recycled by the homeowner who graciously allowed me to place them there. I have previously introduced an ordinance that would restrict the signs to no larger then 16 square feet because I personally feel the large 32 square foot signs are overkill and a driver distraction. The smaller size would improve the visual clutter of campaign signs. I will once again introduce this ordinance and hope for better results.
Editors note all San Marcos, California candidates are welcome to contact us to conduct an interview.