Poway’s Mayor race — Councilman Steve Vaus or current Mayor Don Higginson?
This year’s election started out bland several months ago with only incumbent Higginson announcing he would run. Things became a bit more interesting when rumors started to circulate that Councilmember Jim Cunningham, a Democrat, would challenge the Republican mayor. That would have been an interesting race, with two moderates from two different parties. But ultimately Cunningham declined to run.
But, then rumors that Councilmember Steve Vaus would run. I questioned if Vaus needed more experience (you know, the syndrome where politicians prematurely think they have what it takes for higher office, but don’t — the “Obama Syndrome?). I made him aware of that, but Vaus started to announce his own initiatives, which sparked my interest. It showed me he wasn’t the kind of politician who ran for higher office just “because.” He actually was going to do something to improve the City and push Poway to the “next” level.
Mayor Higginson has “roots” in Poway. He has been involved in Poway politics for over 20 years. He’s a good guy and has been a good mayor, but what I have observed over time is his tendency to support the agenda of the powerful and affluent area of northern Poway. Vaus lives in that area, but is trying to be for ALL of Poway, and that is a big difference. We need a person that will work for the entire city, not just a special interest group that may be able to fund a re-election.
Higginson is a member of my faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Our leaders have stated that we, as members, need to be active in our communities and seeking public office is noble. I applaud the mayor for this, however, I base my voting decisions on the candidate and their personal politics. I do not vote based on race, ethnic origin or religion (but if you’re a politician and you make ignorant or false statements about my faith, my support for you will diminish to zero). On a side note, there are members of my faith on both sides of the aisle. Of course, there are well known LDS conservatives such as Ezra Taft Benson, and other examples include moderates such as Mitt Romney and liberals such as Harry Reid and the Udall clan. Just as I woudn’t support some of them simply because they’re of my faith, the same goes for me in my city.
I’m also not a fan of incumbents who serve “forever,” but I am a fan of new blood with fresh ideas. Poway is a good city, but with Higginson having been in office for over 20 years, it’s time — as Vaus puts it — to make Poway “great.” This is not a race against Higginson, but a race for Poway. The voters need to decide if we should remain with the status-quo, or go with someone who is pushing innovation and ways to get the community excited in a positive way. Vaus has already shown he is that person through his actions as a member of the City Council.
Vaus launched a “Secret Service” program to facilitate Powegians in helping Poway. He has an e-newsletter, which keeps member of the community aware of events an opportunities. He’s regularly out with the public and does Saturday coffee meetings at the Hamburger factory where people can ask him questions. Donny doesn’t do this.
I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the last time Higginson did anything similar. He isn’t out in the public much and I don’t hear what he’s doing for the city. He must be doing things behind the scenes, but what?
Poway needs a mayor that can think outside the box and push the city to a greater level — Steve Vaus is that man.
I hope throughout the campaign, both Vaus and Higginson address some important fiscal issues. When I brought these up to the staff of a former city manager, I was told “it can’t be done,” but I beg to differ, because it has been done elsewhere.
1) Why should members of the City Council get health benefits? Other cities have eliminated these benefits, so why can’t Poway?:
2) What about controlling bureaucratic salaries? Poway has a new City Manager, but at what cost? The city has been well run, but the salaries and benefits of high paid employees (in any government agency) must be controlled. Do elected officials really look at the long term costs of such salaries and benefits? Can cities and other public agencies really afford these salaries in the long run? Someone must say “stop.” I suggest Poway leads an initiative to control government salaries, basing top tier managers on what the Governor makes (currently $165,288). If an agency wants to pay more, let them find an outside source of funding.
Steve Vaus is running for Poway, not against Don Higginson. Vaus and I might not agree on everything, but to me the choice is clear. Do we stay with the status-quo or push our community to be even better? Steve Vaus is my choice for mayor of Poway. I hope he becomes yours.