• Name: Tony Vazquez
• Age: 56
• Occupation: Consultant
• Neighborhood in which you live: Sunset Park
• Own or rent: Own
• Marital status/kids: Married/ two kids
• Obama or Romney: Obama
• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have?
USC, B.S., and graduate work in education.
• Why are you running for City Council, what makes you qualified to lead, and what role do you see yourself playing on the dais if elected?
As a 30-year resident of Santa Monica, longtime community advocate and former City Council member, I am running once again to serve our interests because of my deep commitment to our city. I have served our community on a wide variety of committees and commissions and will continue to build consensus for our greater good, work to preserve the character of our individual neighborhoods, and protect our quality of life and schools which make Santa Monica such a great place to live and work. We must work together to ensure all Santa Monicans are represented and our city is positioned for the future.
• What are Santa Monica’s three major strengths and weaknesses? What will you do to ensure the strengths remain and the weaknesses contained?
The city has been able to maintain a strong budget reserve because of its strong sales tax base; we take care of our seniors, children and citizenry through our social service programs and funding of our public schools; and the natural beauty of our historical pier that has not been over-developed. Our weaknesses are the Santa Monica Airport because it’s the single largest source of toxic air pollution in the city; keeping our beaches clean and free of all the trash that comes from our storm drains; and the jobs-housing imbalance. We have more jobs and not enough housing for our work force in the city.
• Homelessness continues to be a significant concern of many residents and business owners. How would you rate City Hall’s response over the last four years, what will you advocate for and does that mean more or less funding?
I believe the city is doing more than its fair share to take care of the homeless population. When I was on the council I was proactive in trying to get the federal government to develop the VA property in Westwood to house and service the homeless vets. The VA has stepped in but I will continue to put pressure on them so they invest more money for its veterans that will relieve some of the pressure off of Santa Monica.
• Where do you stand on the City Council’s decision to increase the campaign contribution limit from $250 to $325?
I support it.
• Will you sponsor a local law banning smoking within multi-family residential units, i.e. condos and apartments? If not, what would you support?
Given the sensitivity of the issue, I believe it needs further evaluation and discussion.
• If elected, would you allow medical marijuana dispensaries to set up shop in Santa Monica?
Yes, but with strong guide lines to make sure there is no abuse.
• What policies will you support that will enable Santa Monica to deal with the increased competition for resources and the need to be sustainable, particularly when it comes to water and power consumption/generation?
I will look to develop policies that would require any new development to be sustainable, especially as it pertains to water and power consumption.
Golfing and bike riding along the beach bike path.
• What are you reading?
“Half of the World in Light,” by Juan Felipe Herrera.
• The loss of redevelopment agency funds dealt a serious blow to the City Council’s ambitious plans for the Civic Center, Samohi, and the park in front of City Hall, among other projects. If elected, what projects would you prioritize and how would you finance them?
Santa Monica High School is the number one priority and that is why I support Measure ES, the school bond which will fund the renovation of the high school.
• City Hall already provides the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District with millions in exchange for access to campuses, mainly athletic fields. Do you believe this deal is good for the city, or should it be revisited and modified? If so, in what ways?
I believe it’s a good deal for the city, the school district, and the community as a whole because we all win when our schools are the best.
• If you could ride the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier with three people in history, who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Dolores Huerta, so we could discuss their life experience and how it shaped their ideas and moral compass.
• Where do you stand on the Santa Monica Airport?
We need to find a way to ban corporate jets as soon as possible and see if there is a way to close the airport down or make it into a true recreational airport when their lease ends in 2015.
• Community benefits as part of development agreements: what is your definition of a benefit? When should the City Council demand benefits and to what degree? And should some be part of a checklist that developers can choose from, or should the council always have complete control in negotiations with developers?
I believe the City Council should have complete control in negotiations with developers.
• What is your definition of overdevelopment and what is your plan to prevent it?
The Water Garden project is a good example of overdevelopment in our city and any new development must have a net positive impact on our city. Also, it cannot overburden the community in terms of traffic and parking and must be sustainable with meaningful community benefits.
• The sputtering economy and the rise in pension contribution costs have forced some cities to file for bankruptcy. Santa Monica is doing better than most, but if nothing is done to trim costs, deficits will become reality. What’s your plan for controlling public employee pension costs?
We need to look at putting a cap on it before it breaks our city. I agree. The state just passed the mandate for a two-tier pension system to help cities keep their cost down.
• How do you get across town during rush hour? Any tips or shortcuts?
I avoid driving across town during rush hour and if I have to, I ride my bike.
• What should City Hall’s role be when it comes to the creation of affordable housing?
We need to do what we can to build more affordable housing and require developers to pay for affordable housing projects in the city.