To my fellow Santee Residents,

I just wanted to take a moment to express to you why I am running for re-election to the Santee City Council. You see I moved to Santee in 1994 looking for a place to raise a family and knew immediately that Santee was just that place. I have been blessed to have two children that were both born and raised right here in Santee and with any luck at all, I will be able to see grand children raised here too (just not too soon for that I hope). It is because I never had the ability to live in one place my whole life growing up that I felt it was so important to be able to provide those kinds of community roots for my children. Well I found that the more I wanted to ensure that my children would be proud to say they grew up in Santee, the more I got involved. From the school district to the sports leagues to the Chamber of Commerce and eventually to the City Council. When I was first elected to the Council the Union Tribune posted an article that said “Mr. Santee” gets elected to city council and the name stuck. Now having been a volunteer and or board member for many Santee organizations for so many years, I thought that I knew better than anyone what was going on in town (I was named Mr. Santee after all), and that is where the rude awakening came. It started with getting emails on every crime committed in Santee and I thought “oh great I have been elected for a week now and our crime rate is skyrocketing”. Then the City Manager explained that it was not increasing at all, it was just that I had access to more information of what is going on City Wide and not just in my part of town where I worked or lived so it seemed as though there was more crime going on (Santee still maintains one of the lowest crime rates in all of SD County). Then I had my first budget workshop where I heard our Finance Director estimate the year that the city becomes bankrupt due to escalating pension and insurance costs and then just went on to the next section of the budget without anyone even blinking twice. I had to stop the conversation and request we go back to the bankrupt thing! I was told yet again that this was not anything new, it was just the way it was… This my friends was not an acceptable answer. When we dug deeper I asked if anything could be done to avoid the meteor heading our way and I was given a very simple answer; yes. All we had to do was go to a two-tier pension system and the catastrophe could be avoided. When I asked why we had not done that in the past I was told “son if you try to push that agenda you will never get re-elected”. I can honestly tell you that I feel the same way to this day that I felt in that moment. If I am not doing everything I reasonably can to avoid bankrupting this great city, then I do not deserve to get re-elected. So, I took it upon myself to meet with a number to the members of the labor union and just have a frank and honest discussion and the greatest thing happened. They saw the numbers just as clearly and knew that something had to be done. They volunteered to go to a two-tier system for the good of the whole organization and guess what, I still got re-elected.

Now we have to flash forward to today where we have a whole new set of circumstances (along with some of the same as before) causing the city of Santee serious financial concern. The second largest source of revenue a city receives is Sales Tax and even though we are in one of the most booming economies for sales that we have seen in over a decade, the sales tax revenue has just barely increased at all (some sectors have decreased). This can easily be attributed to the “Amazon Affect”. When you buy goods in a local retail store, the city’s portion of sales tax goes directly to the city. However, when you buy on line the sales tax goes to the County of San Diego and is then divided out to all the cities in the county based on population. So now we have new pension and insurance escalation factors to deal with (mainly due to CalPers over estimating return on investments) which means our costs are dramatically increasing each year, but our income appears to be trending in a negative growth pattern. This is why I am very passionate about my re-election. If we do not have someone like me paying attention to our budget not just for today, but for the future as well and willing to make the tough decisions to balance, we will be right back where we were in 2010 just kicking the can down the road and leaving someone else to try to find a way to clean up the mess. That is not the legacy that I want for my children or yours. Please support my campaign for re-election to Santee City Council by placing a yard sign at your home, volunteering to help knock on doors and talk to our neighbors, and of course any contributions to the campaign are extremely appreciated.

With the success and longevity of Santee in mind,

 

 

 

 

Rob McNelis