Positions on IssuesCharlie Smith San Clemente City Council
Plain and simple, I bring much-needed professional financial experience to the Council, at a level that is unmatched by any current Council member or candidate. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business and 20+ years of experience in corporate banking, wealth management, asset management (both public and private investing), municipal finance, and treasury management, I will be able to add the meaningful financial acumen to the Council that our City has been missing. My priorities: i) Look for every single revenue opportunity possible without raising taxes on residents and small businesses; ii) Intelligently reduce expenses without impacting essential services; iii) Ensure that City assets provide our citizens with a proper risk/return; iv) Maintain the city’s AAA credit rating to keep borrowing costs down, and v) Establish a rainy-day fund. The City needs a Council member with real professional financial experience and the ability to truly oversee the City’s Treasury and navigate these volatile financial times.
For a time in my youth, my family was homeless. The foster care system and charity rescued my sister and me. This experience taught me what it takes to escape homelessness and break the bonds of poverty. The issue of homelessness is complex and does not have an easy fix. Mental health issues and addiction are major factors. I will be able to leverage my personal, religious, and professional experience to seek efficient and effective solutions in our community. I believe that San Clemente, as a compassionate community, should always care for its own, and that wherever possible we should seek to help other individuals get back to their own hometowns where they have family, history and other connections. While we should always strive to help others where we can, I believe that San Clemente’s resources should be first devoted to our own citizens and issues.
Leadership & Respectful Collaboration
I have been privileged to serve as a leader and a problem solver in many capacities, and I have been most successful when working cooperatively with others. Whether in my profession, my church, or the community, I’ve found ways to solve problems, even when working with groups and individuals from differing viewpoints. Respect and civility are hallmarks of an orderly and effective organization, and being able to “disagree without being disagreeable” has enabled me to bring people together and get things done where others have failed. This City Council needs more thoughtful, deliberate, and collaborative leadership, and I am prepared to deliver.
No Toll Road
San Clemente is known for its small-town charm. A toll road of any variety through or around our town would be detrimental to our unique community. Many of our fellow citizens are under the impression that this issue has been resolved, but this is not true. The toll road proposal is truly a “zombie issue” – it just never seems to die! I want to make sure that it does. We need strong leadership and credible influence at the County and State levels to ensure that the toll road does not make its way through or around San Clemente.
San Clemente – Entrepreneurial Home
We are approaching San Clemente’s 100-year birthday. City founder Ole Hanson was an entrepreneur and established San Clemente as a haven for those who wanted to break away from urban living. Today, we honor his legacy by continuing that local entrepreneurial spirit and ensuring that small business owners can flourish in our town. We need to review all business-related policies and processes to ensure that San Clemente is an attractive destination for those seeking to start businesses that are consistent with our town’s character. Many of the lessons learned from our business community during this COVID crisis should be thought out for long term implementation – like outdoor dining along Del Mar, or facilitating re-opening and occupancy permits for business looking to get back on their feet. We love ALL our small businesses and want to assist in any way possible to bring back the vibrant business community that we enjoyed before the pandemic.
Beach erosion is a difficult issue, with many forecasts based on different models. One thing is clear, we need to fight to maintain our pristine beach fronts with sand replenishment. Apart from our citizens themselves, San Clemente’s most precious community resources are our beaches. They attract tourism and, more importantly, they are part of our San Clemente identity and way of life. If we allow our beaches to be sacrificed what would our community become? I proposed to my wife on a beautiful beach in this area. Twenty years later, that beach is a mere ghost of what it used to be – and we need to be smart about how we restore it. The City Council must protect our beaches by working with state and federal governments. If elected, I will make this happen.
A reduction of funding for the City’s contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is out of the question. Hopefully, this issue has run its course, but we need to be vocal. We are grateful for the members of the Sheriff’s Department who visit our local schools to develop healthy relationships with all kids at an early age. They are a great source of peace and protection in our neighborhoods. Yes, we need services for the homeless and mentally ill, but on my watch, the money needed will not be found by reallocating funds from the City’s public safety budget.
Transparency & Public Input
I promise that if elected, I will ensure that this Council will be one of the most open and transparent in Council history. The citizens of San Clemente must be able to trust that City leadership is always looking after their best interests. This can only be accomplished if we are transparent and ensure good governance and accountability. I will seek input from citizens to truly reflect the will of the people in all issues, big and small, and then insist that the City Council always conducts its affairs in the clear light of day.
As a youth, skating was one of my passions and yes, I can still Ollie today (although not quite as high as I used to). Skate parks are a natural extension of the San Clemente lifestyle, but we don’t have enough of them. Ralph’s Skate Court is great, but to be honest it’s overcrowded and is often less than welcoming for new and younger skaters. The City’s Beaches, Parks & Recreation Commission is in the process of advance planning for several of our City’s parks. We need to ensure that the skating community is represented in that planning process. As a start, I will propose that a new family-friendly skate park be created adjacent to the Vista Hermosa Sports Park, with amenities that allow parents to comfortably accompany their younger children and socialize while their kids skate.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
It is time for action to remove radioactive fuel rods from the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. With what occurred in Japan with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, how is it possible that we are okay with these dangerous materials being housed next to our city and at the waterline? Once again, this calls for focus and leadership. We need to be working closely and expeditiously with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, our state and federal representatives, and SoCal Edison to address and resolve this issue. If there ever was a serious issue at SONGS, its effects would be massively detrimental to our environment and way of life. It is time for action!