The 2022 Candidates Forum will be held on October 11, 6 pm, at the Mickey Cafagna Community Center Sycamore Hall. More details can be found below.
About the Candidates Forum
Every two years since 2010, the Poway Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the GVCA, has facilitated a Candidates Forum to allow Poway citizens and community members to hear from their local candidates before Election Day. Participating candidates will be available to meet & greet with attendees, answer pre-determined questions, and Q&A from the audience, if time permits.
The 2022 Candidates Forum will be held on Tuesday, October 11, 6:00 pm, at the Mickey Cafagna Community Center Sycamore Hall, and will be moderated by Dr. Mark Burdette. This Election Year, you will hear from candidates for PUSD School Board (areas B, C & D), Poway City Council (districts 1 & 3), and Poway Mayor. Space is limited; please RSVP.
6:00 pm: Meet & Greet with Candidates
6:30 pm: PUSD School Board
7:30 pm: Poway City Council
8:30 pm: Poway Mayor
2022 Candidate Races
Mayor Race: Yuri Bohlen, Delta Esparza, Emeke Ibekwe, Bhavana Kansal, Steve Vaus
City Council, District 1: Brian Pepin, Hiram Soto
City Council, District 3: Peter de Hoff, Kevin Juza, Tony Russo
PUSD School Board, Area B: Frida Bunzell, Ginger Couvrette, Dave Nelson
PUSD School Board, Area C: Patrick Batten, Heather Plotzke
PUSD School Board, Area D: Janet Bremseth, Michelle O'Connor-Ratcliff
View Candidates' responses (if provided) to the Pre-Forum Questionnaire, below.
Pre-Forum Questionnaire: Candidate Reponses
Candidates were given a pre-forum questionnaire to answer prior to the Candidates Forum. Below you will find their answers; please use the tabs to navigate between races, and scroll down to view all candidates' responses.
- How long have you lived in Poway? 10 and a half years.
- List your specific personal and/or professional experience or skills (i.e., profession, volunteer involvement in the community) that are important qualifications for serving as the Mayor of Poway. I have been involved in activities in Poway since 1991 as a teenager going fishing with my father at Poway Lake. I was very active going to the community church thrift shops at the carriage center as a patron as well as donating cloths and furniture and household items to the various shops that provided affordable items to the community which in turn provided services and food and shelter for people in need like families with children and seniors. In the mid 90s I worked at McDonalds on Poway Road as the assistant Manager and people still remember me from there today. I have worked at a local pharmacy retailer in Poway for over 10 years now where I know members of the community on a first name basis as they know mine as well. In my job I do my best to help people with questions and concerns that they have something I plan to do as your mayor as well communication and compassion are my goals for the community. In the 2010s I hosted and coordinated two comedy shows in Poway. One at Foul play sports bar behind the arco station on carriage and the other at Jimmyz at Poway fun bowl the latter of which was sold due to the Poway Road specific plan. I am a person who is known in the community and if elected I will be available to all the people of Poway as your Mayor, I will be accessible and accommodating because I will be a full time Mayor at city hall. I will represent everyone even those who didn't vote for me. Everyone will have equal access to meet me ask me questions and express their concerns. No matter your political affiliation we are all Powegians and together we will make Poway the city in the country again.
- Why are you seeking this office? I am seeking the office of Mayor of Poway for many reasons I want to make a difference in my community with more communication between the city and its residents. I want our city to get back to its original ideals and why it was incorporated on December 1st, 1980, as the city in the country. Whether you were born here or moved here we all chose to live here for many of the same reasons to not be like every other big city with traffic and congestion. To live in a family friendly community where people of all faiths and races live as one. I want to preserve the beauty of Poway by keeping our open spaces and our scenic views from being obstructed by tall buildings and also to preserve our natural wildlife which is often forgotten.
- How should the city engage the community to ensure that the scope and details of future new development projects in Poway are communicated clearly to residents? If elected Mayor of Poway I will create a new committee. The Residential District review committee that will meet once a month at city hall to discuss the issues in all four districts of new developments projects in Poway as well as existing ones and any other concerns or issues from members of the community. Why my district review committee will be different and more successful than other committees is there will not be appointments for the respective districts everyone will have equal say in the community.
- What do you believe the role of the Mayor should be in the development and support of the city of Poway? The role of the mayor in development and support of the city should include insuring moderate growth and thoroughly vetting potential developers in future projects. Supporting our Fire department and Sheriff's department by increasing annual budgets 1-5% accordingly depending on factors like revenue and budget and deficits by eliminating wasteful spending like consulting fees on various projects and issues. We have good people working at city hall who can share their ideas and opinions why pay a firm six figures to tell us what to do.
- If you could change one thing to our zoning code, what would it be and why? Many of our zoning laws were decided in the 1980s at a time when our population was considerably smaller, and the growth of our city had not yet been fully planned out. One of the codes is 17.26.720 Density bonus, incentive or concession housing agreement required. It is a loophole for increased housing with a small percentage for affordable units.
- List your top priorities as the Mayor of Poway: #1 Stop the over development of Poway due to the housing mandates of Sacramento that are not based on actual needs and availability but simply quotas. Each city should base there housing needs assessment on an individual basis without disrupting the quality of life of its residents. #2 Expand senior services and programs for our senior community. One out of every six residents Is 65 or older. We need more programs to feed and check up on our seniors many of whom are widows. I would like there to be more activities at the Mickey Cafagna center 7 days a week 9-5 schedule #3 Homeless prevention our city is growing and that includes the homeless population as well. I would like to have a more proactive approach to this problem coordinate something with the city and organizations like the Alpha project and others. Help with rehabilitation with drug and alcohol programs as well as mental health issue programs. Programs for educational and vocational training. Job placement and housing programs to get people off the streets. If we continue to ignore the problem now it will only grow.
- How long have you lived in Poway? I have lived in Poway for over 3 years, and I have lived in the surrounding area (less than a mile) for 13 years.
- List your specific personal and/or professional experience or skills (i.e., profession, volunteer involvement in the community) that are important qualifications for serving as the Mayor of Poway. I have been in the defense industry for over 18 years. I work on complex products used to serve and protect our military, country, and international allies. As a Software Engineering Manager, I solve challenging problems and make difficult decisions. I have managed teams, projects, and multi-million-dollar contracts successfully. I have a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, and I also earned a Master’s in Systems Engineering while working full time.
- Why are you seeking this office? I bought my forever home in Poway almost 4 years ago and I am not happy with the direction that the town is heading. I do not see a vision that makes sense for Poway, especially in the area of development, nor do I see investments being made to improve the quality of life for Powegians. I am running for Mayor of Poway because I want a better version of Poway while keeping its old charm and character.
- How should the city engage the community to ensure that the scope and details of future new development projects in Poway are communicated clearly to residents? Aside from city council meetings, I would like to see on-going town halls to discuss development efforts that impact Powegians.
- What do you believe the role of the Mayor should be in the development and support of the city of Poway? The community desires to keep the “City in the Country” feel for Poway. The role of the Mayor, in the area of development, is to maintain both the town’s character and quality of life. The Mayor should embrace the past while setting a vision for Poway’s future.
- If you could change one thing to our zoning code, what would it be and why? Increase setbacks to control growth, improve traffic safety and visibility, allow for landscaping, and improve safety for pedestrians by not being so close to traffic.
- List your top priorities as the Mayor of Poway: • Good Governance – Ensure Powegians are represented, included, and advocated for on city matters that impact their quality of life. Ensure city council is transparent, honest, and accountable on city matters. Enact term limits & a Board of Ethics. • Development - Stop the influence of developers at City Hall. Implement a moratorium on new development. Update city plans to ensure future development meets the needs of the community, preserves our open space, and reflects our vision for our city. • Climate Action - Generate a Climate Action Plan to move towards a greener and cost effective future for generations to come.
- How long have you lived in Poway? My wife, Corrie and I got married and moved to Poway in 1993 - twenty-nine years ago! We’ve lived in the same house ever since. Our kids, Anna and Jacob, grew up here and went through the Poway school system. We’ve ridden our horses on Poway’s trails; walked our dogs on Poway’s streets; played with our kids in Poway’s parks; hiked and biked through Poway’s vast open spaces. All to say we haven’t just lived here… we’ve LIVED here!
- List your specific personal and/or professional experience or skills (i.e., profession, volunteer involvement in the community) that are important qualifications for serving as the Mayor of Poway. A record of volunteer service and community involvement is the only way to become truly prepared to serve on City Council or as Mayor. Prior to joining the council in 2012 I volunteered as a Poway Reserve Park Ranger with the mounted patrol. I also served a term as Chair of the City’s Budget Review Committee and I was Executive Director of the Poway Community Leadership Institute. Before being elected Mayor I served two years on city council.
- Why are you seeking this office? 2022 is the first time in 26 years we will have two open seats on City Council up for election due to the retirement of Councilmember John Mullin and Councilmember Dave Grosch. The City is in their debt for their faithful and selfless service. But with their departure we face a critical time that requires a steady and experienced hand on the rudder. That is the only way Poway will continue to be ranked as the safest city in the county, the best place to raise a family, the city with the best roads, and the city that is best prepared, in every respect, for future generations.
- How should the city engage the community to ensure that the scope and details of future new development projects in Poway are communicated clearly to residents? We’ve made great strides going above and beyond legal requirements for notification by expanding who we notify. Additionally we have a full-time Public Information Officer to push information out via every means possible: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, NextDoor; traditional media; and a newsletter. Residents can sign up for our NOTIFY ME emails. We have updated the City’s web site, making it easier to connect with information and/or individuals for answers to virtually any question related to the City. As communication methods have evolved we have as well and we will continue to do so.
- What do you believe the role of the Mayor should be in the development and support of the city of Poway? The Mayor wears many hats - meeting moderator, ambassador, cheerleader, negotiator and sometimes much more. Consider the events of just the last four years: following the tragic 2019 Poway synagogue shooting I represented Poway before media from around the world; during the pandemic I created programs (Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans for local businesses; our Picnic table program for restaurants; and more) that literally saved businesses, and those they employ, from financial ruin. In short, the Mayor must have the experience and expertise to handle any circumstance.
- If you could change one thing to our zoning code, what would it be and why? I’d tell Sacramento bureaucrats to keep their hands off our City’s zoning! Their one-size-fits-all approach to housing density threatens our community character. A perfect example - a project that was before Council in July of this year. Using a Sacramento loophole, an out-of-town developer wanted to build 20 houses on a small parcel zoned for only 15 homes. I voted NO but the project was approved. As long as Sacramento keeps usurping our local authority and giving developers “get-out-jail-free cards” we will see more high density projects. We MUST do everything in our power to stop them.
- List your top priorities as the Mayor of Poway: Keep Poway safe. Keep Poway family-friendly. Keep Poway ready for the next generation.