Incumbent La Jolla city council rep challenged for seat

Sherri Lightner
Sherri Lightner

Election 2012: Former pension board president seeks to unseat Sherri Lightner in Dist. 1

Term:

Four years

City Council member base salary:

$75,000

Council District 1:

La Jolla, University City, Torrey Hills, Torrey Pines, Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos, Torrey Highlands, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Black Mountain Ranch

Population:

188,625

By Pat Sherman

Note: The

La Jolla Light

recently met with District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner (Democrat), and her challenger, businessman and philanthropist, Ray Ellis (Republican). Interviews with the candidates follow. An interview with attorney and animal rights activist Bryan Pease, who is also seeking the District 1 seat, will appear in the Feb. 23 edition of the

Light

.

Sherri Lightner

La Jolla Shores resident and UC San Diego graduate Sherri Lightner got her start in politics as a community activist, serving as president of the La Jolla Shores Association and the La Jolla Town Council, among other organizations.

Her campaign has been endorsed by a bevvy of local leaders, as well as the San Diego City Firefighters, San Diego Lifeguards, former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk, and Port Commissioner Bob Nelson.

Following an engineering career that began at General Atomics and ended with a consulting business she ran with her husband, Bruce, Lightner was elected to the city council, replacing Democrat Scott Peters in 2008.

Among her achievements since joining the city council, Lightner cites her work instituting a ranger program to monitor seal fracas at the Children’s Pool, breaking ground on a new lifeguard station at La Jolla Shores, helping to secure money from UCSD to reinstate lifeguard service at Black’s Beach, and reviving the La Jolla Village Merchants Association. Lightner has also joined efforts to help save La Jolla’s Wall Street post office.

If elected to a second term, Lightner said she’ll continue to focus her efforts on the council’s newly formed Economic Development and Strategies Committee, for which she serves as chair.

The committee is tasked with development of a long-term, strategic vision for San Diego’s economy and workforce, as well as finding ways to cut through bureaucratic red tape at city hall (including streamlining the permitting process and allowing business owners to pay fees and fill out forms via the city’s website).

“You shouldn’t have to come down to city hall to fill out a form,” Lightner said. “We need to move forward with that (committee) and really come up with a roadmap for economic development here in the city of San Diego.”

Lightner also touted her work to help fix the city’s pension crisis, helping enact a plan that provides an estimated long-term savings of as much as $17 million in 2030 and $28 million in 2040, as well as a citywide salary freeze that reduced San Diego’s unfunded pension liability by $100 million.

“We’ve made huge strides,” Lightner said. “Our budget deficit is supposedly going to be (about) $12 million this year, which is amazing … and our reserves are quite good.

“There is still more to do, and I want to help finish the job. That means looking at all our options, including pension freezes and working to eliminate pension-spiking practices to eliminate costly loopholes.”

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