By Elizabeth Marie Hinchak
Rancho Bernardan Mark Kersey will become District 5’s new City Councilman on Monday.
The 36-year-old Republican ran unopposed in the June primary, giving him several months to prepare for his foray into political office.
“In terms of preparation, it’s been fantastic,” Kersey said. “I’ve been able to meet a lot of city department leaders and been briefed on a lot of issues being discussed in the next couple years.”
One is the city’s financial recovery, which Kersey called a key priority. “I’ll fight to ensure the fiscal reforms (many) worked so hard on over the last five to seven years stay in place and are strengthened.”
Though San Diego will have a Democrat for mayor and possibly Democrat majority on City Council — to be determined next year following a special election for Tony Young’s replacement — Kersey said he does not think most issues will be determined by party lines.
“I assume the Democrats will not be united all the time and not only support the mayor’s office, though some will be in lock step with the mayor,” he said.
Kersey said right after his inauguration he is looking forward to sitting down with his new colleagues and figuring out how they will work together after the new council president sets the council’s agenda. The addition of a ninth council seat goes into effect Monday.
As for his other priorities, these include economic initiatives that help large and small businesses expand and create jobs.
Kersey — who founded and was principal analyst of Kersey Strategies, a San Diego-based independent research and consulting telecommunications and cable industries firm — said he has been speaking with business owners to learn how the city can help them and be more welcoming to business. For example, he said when they pull permits, city staff should be a help not a hindrance to their efforts.
“I’m not saying we don’t need regulations, but need smart regulations,” he said. “Government (officials) can be well-intentioned, but not understand the practical implications. I have this insight as a businessman.”
He mentioned a rule in Scripps Ranch that requires three- to five-story commercial buildings be leased by a single tenant.
“In this economy it is a hard thing to do,” Kersey said, explaining it would be more practical to allow four tenants to lease a 40,000 to 50,000 square foot building. He said the rule was enacted when the city wanted to encourage growth of large companies, but “city regulations need to adjust to the times.”
Because Rancho Bernardo does not have the same challenges found in other parts of the city, Kersey said its issues are of a citywide nature.
“I found when campaigning that the number one complaint was roads, streets and potholes,” he said.
He also mentioned securing a long-term water supply, which could include recycled water for public landscaping and golf courses in Rancho Bernardo — something many residents have advocated this year and said they are looking for Kersey’s leadership to accomplish it. Kersey said he has been looking into the issue and gathered locals with water and engineering backgrounds to work with city staff to study its structural and financial feasibility.
He also indicated willingness to help with getting the city to purchase a 10.88-acre site from Poway Unified School District so some or all can become an RB park. But he said success depends on if the money is available and not needed for higher priorities.
Regarding other city issues, Kersey said he favors convention center expansion, calling the resultant economic growth “a net positive all the way around,” and said he is “open to any good ideas” regarding the Chargers’ bid for a new stadium as long as the facility is used year round and not just for football.
Kersey said he will use various methods to reach out to constituents and his office will be responsive to their issues. His staff representative in Rancho Bernardo will be Tiffany Vinson, who fills the same position for Councilman Carl DeMaio.
“I want people to know my door will always be open,” Kersey said. “It is a privilege to represent everyone in District 5 at City Hall. We’ll have a lot of work over the next four years. I welcome the challenge.”