Poway’s Mayor race: Vaus or Higginson?

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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?:

RSM Voters Support Term Limits, Ending Health Care Benefits for Council

Many small cities pay officials hefty health benefits

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.

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Comments 10

  1. Hey Poway Roger, if Vaus wins as you wish, what do you propose happens to the empty council seat? It’d be two years until the next election. So, do we leave the seat empty for two years, do we hold a special election really quickly to fill the seat, or should the council appoint someone to fill the position? If someone is appointed, who should that be? If Higginson wins, this is all moot.

  2. Does it really matter? I’d rather have a change in the Mayor for the good of the City. If Steve wins, I would prefer that the Council picks the replacement, with the replacement giving up the option of seeking election in 2 years. Opting for a special election is too expensive for Poway.

    Regarding who to appoint, I don’t know. I’m sure there is a fine pool to select from. Would you throw your name into the race? I have no desire to seek it (I love my job too much).

  3. “So, do we leave the seat empty for two years…”

    Not an option. The council has 60 days I believe from the date of the vacancy to appoint or announce a special election date. State elections code.

  4. I’m confused, this wasn’t researched very well. Mayor Higginson is all over the place. He has a “coffee with the mayor” meeting on Fridays.

    I have lived in a lot of other places and this Mayor is insanely accessible. He’s got my vote.

  5. Matt:

    Poway Roger’s article is very clearly based on his perception. He does happen to be a longtime resident and active in the community. Perception is reality, it is said.

    But, if you or anyone believes this writer’s opinion is not accurate regarding Mayor Higginson’s involvement in the city, we accept guest articles and are very open to seeing another viewpoint..

    Thanks.

  6. Does Don send out email newsletters to the residents of Poway? Nope. When was the last time I saw Don at a public event? The 2014 volunteer dinner. Time before that? 2013 volunteer dinner, and I get around Poway a lot. Coffee with Don? Just did a google search and saw no mention of that.

    When Don gave up the position of Mayor to Mickey, he stated that it was due to his personal work load. However, when he sought the position after Mickey died, I asked if things had changed in his professional life. Never got an answer.

    Talk to staff and they will tell you that they rarely see Don except right before a Council meeting.

    30 years in office? It is really a time for a change.

    Poway does not belong to Don, but to all of us.

  7. Just got the latest mailer from Don Higginson for Mayor. Pictures of him with Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney and a letter signed by Matt Romney all to give the voter the impression that the Republican Party has endorsed him, but the fact is, the San Diego Republican Party has endorsed Steve. Always interesting how politicians can adjust reality to fit what they want the voters to perceive. On a side note, in my humble opinion, I question when any Church Leader, such as Matt, comes out to endorse a candidate. While Matt and Don might be friends, Church leaders should keep their personal endorsements to themselves unless it’s regarding a moral issue, which this race isn’t.
    http://www.sandiegorepublicans.org/endorsements.html

  8. San Diego Tax Fighters has quietly endorsed only 12 candidates in the entire county. Steve Vaus is one of them. I’ll put out the full list shortly.

  9. I miss Mayor Higginson.

    Vaus has shown little leadership and I don’t think South Poway with all the development he has unleashed down their.

    All the initiatives put forth by Mayor Vaus have been gimmicks, at best.

    We desperately need a change.

    Would you like to have a do-over on this decision, Poway Roger?

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