The Star-News - Oct. 18, 2002

Same old talk of change in NC


The agenda at the National City Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Oct. 16, was devoted to a Q&A panel featuring all but one of the candidates running for a seat as councilmember or mayor in National City.

For the council seats, the contenders present were Darryl Gorham, Cecilia Garcia Kirk, Louis Natividad, Frank Parra and Tony Villafranca. Mitch Beauchamp was absent.

Of these, Gorham devoted most of his alotted time to criticizing Nick Inzunza's campaign for a lack of integrity.

Villafranca, however, had so many good things to say about all three mayoral candidates that he didn't seem to make much of his own case, save that he graduated from the County Sheriff's Academy and likes to work long hours. When asked about youth programs, he said he'd turn out to shoot a few hoops after school.

Natividad, a staffer for San Diego councilman George Stevens, confessed to having failed in the limousine business. But this was to make a good point about the need to develop small businesses and to create jobs for National City residents.

Kirk and Parra, respectively executive director and vice president of National City's Christmas in July organization, came across as serious community activists. Parra wants to clean up the trash. Kirk sees a mountain of issues that she would move "stone by stone." Being the only female on the slate, she claimed women have good sense.

On the panel of mayoral options, Mayor George Waters concentrated on the good things that have come to National City under his stewardship. Of these, he claimed the MAAC educational project (of which Natividad was a founding member), the Plaza Bonita Shopping Center and the police station.

Morrison, who derives added credibility from his seat on the San Diego Association of Governments, said National City should develop its downtown sector in a similar vein to La Mesa. National City's image would be improved by some decent landscaping and better planning. "Don't bring in Walmart for downtown and put a pawn shop in front of it."

Bridling at being called "Little Nicky" by Waters, Inzunza named County Supervisor Greg Cox and State Assemblyman Juan Vargas as prominent politicians who went into politics as young men and who both now endorse him for mayor.

He spoke of his talent for buying rundown real estate and turning a profit where previous owners had suffered from a high turnover in tenants. He cited this as the model for his vision of a Filipino Village in National City. "A lot of folk have a hard time with change," he said. "But this city needs to change."

A light hearted Waters had suggested a status quo option. "If you like all three of us, you should vote for me and send them back to their council seats.