Hoping Homework, Middle Ground Pay Dividends

Fourth in a series.

LA MESA -- Two years ago, Patrick Dean, a relative newcomer to the Jewel of the Hills, threw his hat into the City Council race.

In retrospect, it was probably wishful thinking that an unknown, new to town could go up against two incumbents like Ernie Ewin and Mark Arapostathis, both with long histories and even longer lists of supporters.

Still, Dean was not frantic. He simply repeated his admiration for the city and voiced his concern that smart growth policies would be needed to keep it this way.

Dean lost but performed much better than other unknowns in that race and within days of his defeat, he showed up at the next City Council meeting and continued taking notes.

In some ways, he has never stopped. Dean -- a single Dad with two daughters who works in the restaurant business -- has attended virtually every council meeting and, as he became more familiar with local issues, started speaking out at those meetings. He has neither been in lock-step with the current council members, nor has he reflexively opposed the so-called "establishment.'' He has charted a truly independent course, apart from the local factions, and continued to shape a reputation as a political newcomer willing to do his homework.

"What I really want to do is to be seen as someone who looks out for the common good,'' Dean said. He eschews criticizing his opponents, and, as he goes door-to-door these days he emphasizes to voters that he has done his homework.

"I tell them I've been going to council meetings for three years and, oh and by the way, we need more bike lanes,'' Dean said. "Giving people a chance to get out of their cars and walk and ride bikes. That's not something people want to argue about.''

Environmental issues are important to Dean, but he describes them in a context that is as much about smart growth as it is about more macro concerns like global warming.

"There are more and more people wanting to come and live here,'' Dean says. "They are going to have to live somewhere so we are going to have growth. Doing it right is important.''

So over the last few years, Dean hasn't joined the "keep La Mesa the way it is forever" nimby forces that can be found in town. He talks about smart growth and the need for more density but intelligent  density. What does that mean practically? Is the Park Station project as originally described with 18-floor towers smart growth?
"Maybe not 18 but six or eight certainly fits in with this area,'' he said.

Dean admires the public transportation the city can already boast, but he has grander visions. He considers the trolley and bus lines too expensive to coax people out of their cars and he thinks millions being targeted at future highway projects should be redirected to execute new public transportation.

"Light rail on El Cajon and University Avenue,'' he offers when asked for examples of such transit improvements.

Though he has long-term visions, he is a pragmatist, especially when compared to environmentalists who simply oppose virtually all growth. He sees the demographic predictions of continued population growth for a place as beautiful and strategically located as San Diego as realistic. He thinks La Mesa's Police Department is too small for the size of the city and believes that issue needs to be addressed as inevitable growth occurs.

"The question is not will that growth happen, it is how we can control it and make sure we do it right,'' Dean said.

So as he meets with some constituents, including some long-time residents who lament any signs of change in the city, he knows he has a hill to climb with them to explain why he won't reflexively oppose all proposals that bring more density and some more height.

Showing signs of growing his own political roots here, Dean has raised more than $3,000 in donations to help pay for door-hangers, printed materials, a few advertisements and a share of a tent at Oktoberfest. Most of his campaign is knocking on doors, particularly in precincts he believes are most likely to appreciate his approach.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Dean, 49, works with a catering business and as a waiter for the last five years at the Americana Restaurant in Del Mar. He lives with his two daughters, age five and 10, in downtown La Mesa -- within walking distance of City Hall.

 Below is Dean's official ballot statement:

You can click here to see Dean's official website. 

The Race For La Mesa is a five part series focusing on the City Council candidates. Part One focused on candidate Ruth Sterling. Part Two on Kristine Alessio. Part Three on Shannon O'Dunn.



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Tags: City Council race, Government, Kristine Alessio, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Patrick Dean, Ruth Sterling, Shannon O'Dunn


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Comment by David Smyle on October 23, 2012 at 9:37am

JW, who else do you think I am speaking for?  As you are well aware, I am very vocal about issues that are of a concern to me, especially when it comes to spending my tax dollars or bad politicians.  I never speak for any particular group although I belong to several.  Put on your big boy pants and back up your accusations.  While you are at it, practice telling the truth, not leaking confidential information and not lying to save your butt when your mouth once again goes on overload.

Comment by Bill Jaynes on October 23, 2012 at 8:07am

Quick question, Jim:

When you were falsely claiming that Deena While was bankrupt or disparaging my family business as a 2% candy bar hobby, were you speaking for yourself or as a Board Officer, and fellow member, of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce?

Bill Jaynes


619 464 2298

Comment by Jim Wieboldt on October 22, 2012 at 8:41pm


Dave Smyle speaking only for himself! That's a first.....hope this becomes the rule and not the exception. You GO Davey!

Comment by David Smyle on October 18, 2012 at 10:19pm

 I did not comment about crime coming from low income housing or that maybe
more is not needed. The problem is using people's tax dollars to subsidize
this in any form. You want to build more public housing or low income
housing, entice a developer to do it with tax credits or other incentives or
if the City owns land, let it build this kind of housing on it and earn
income as a landlord so that it earns a return back to the taxpayer from
this type of project. By the way, there is a difference between low income
housing and senior housing. Building a complex for age 55+ where a CUP is
given for more units because there is not adequate parking is not uncommon
and does not cost the City any money. I am very much aware of the Springs
and the fact the City "mandated" Alterrra to provide a certain number of low
income units in order to build the project. The question is if a person
wants to build say an 8 unit project on their land or remodel an older
complex, do we want the City to require either of these situations now
mandate the owner or developer make a certain number of units affordable
housing. If Mr. Dean had it his way, this would be the case. Whatever
happened to property rights? Ah yes, it is for the common good. That is
unless it is your property that is affected by any new laws or ordinances
that restrict the amount of income you can make off it. Dean's platform is
not just about affordable housing. He is more liberal and left wing than
Obama and doesn't understand the issues that affect small business. His
opinion on how to spend tax dollars, my tax dollars, is just not acceptable.
He is not Robin Hood. What he wants to do with the people's money is
exactly what got us into the financial mess we are in which has caused the
City to raise its sales tax .75% and will cause another increase before the
current one expires. You can take that to the bank. That is if you have
any money left to put in the bank.

David Smyle

Comment by La Mesa Today on October 18, 2012 at 9:29pm

This comment was originally posted by LaMesaToday.com member Lois Knowlton:

Unfortunately Mr. Smyle and Batman are uninformed regarding Section 8 Housing and Affordable Housing.

In the first place, there is no indication or research that or police reports that crime is associated with either. Do they realize that everyone who lives in the Springs is renting according to their ability to pay and subsidized by Section 8. I know of no incidence of crime associated with this very much needed housing for our seniors who fall into the income level required.

In the second place, I doubt that either of you are aware of the units in our city that are considered "affordable housing" such as those that are part of the Alterra complex on Fletcher Parkway.

Maybe the two of you are coming from some part of the U.S. where "public housing" was built in large complexes, not maintained, and had irresponsible landlords....but that's not in La Mesa!

Comment by David Smyle on October 18, 2012 at 11:19am

Speaking for myself only and not any group I associate myself with, Dean is a nice man but not the man for the job.  His views are such that public monies received through taxes are up for grabs on any pet project he deems socially acceptable even though it may not have anything to do with City ops.  It is the Obama wealth distribution project mantra that bothers me.  His mainly liberal ideals have no boundaries with regard to spending money on green projects, low income housing,  and making La Mesa the biking capital of California.  FYI, that is what Lake Murray and other City and County parks are for.  As far as City growth, La Mesa is 95%+ already built out so we are not going to see any huge increase in population within the City limits.  He is not for pension reform and thinks everyone should have the same kind of exorbitant pensions government workers receive and 401K are out of the question.  Off all the candidates, this one will do the most damage with his votes.

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