Vista council candidate Chrystal Coleman says the things that she is most concerned about for the residents in Vista are issues involving the environment, public safety and government transparency.
Taking time out from running a campaign recently, Candidate Coleman says she first got into community activism through the Occupy Movement, when it started. “So to me it was really a beautiful thing, because it brought all different types of people together under a common cause, a common umbrella, and I really enjoyed it and for the first time in a long time I thought … there are people out there who feel like I do. But they’re frustrated with the system, they’re fed up with the way that our political arena is run, and they are just tired of it. They want something new and different. I felt that same way, too.”
After Occupy, she got “sidetracked” with the San Onofre issue. “Once it started leaking, the very first thing I did was some research and I said, as a mom, my first thought was ‘What’s going to happen to my kids if something should happen?'” And in doing her research … she looked at Chernobyl and what could happen, and Coleman said it was “horrifying.”
Coalition to Decommission San Onofre
“It lit a fire under me to do something about it,” Coleman says. “So I spent a couple of years as a community organizer, with the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre, with multiple groups who went around to various city council meetings, spoke before the council members, and we hit a lot of people saying ‘Oh, uh, you guys are just amateurs just leave it to the experts and why don’t you go home and just make dinner’ — things like that to me.”
She couldn’t just give up, she said, even in taking on “one of the biggest institutions in the state,” so she kept at it.
“And we won,” Coleman said. “This really shows the power of the people, that we can change things. What we have to do is work together, we have to organize and then reach out to your local government and that’s how you get things done.”
And that activism and achievement, she says, led to her wanting to accomplish some things at the local level.
“For me environment is first, because there are no jobs on a dead planet. If you can’t breath the air and drink the water, what else have you got? It’s not going to matter how much income you bring home, nothing else is going to matter. And I wanted to make sure that … the future that I’m leaving to my kids is something that they are not going to have to be fearful of. One of the things that upset me about the nuclear issue was that they told us sixty years ago ‘Oh, you guys will figure it out later’ and I don’t want to do that to my kids. I want to solve the problems that we can solve today. I want to look around–this is our planet, we’re destroying our planet slowly but surely, and I think that that is something that really needs to be addressed.”
Old Main Street
Coleman has lived in Vista all her life. She and her husband are homeowners in this city, raising a family on a middle income wage. When asked what places she enjoys in Vista, she picks out an immediate favorite which her family enjoys:
“I really like the old town, downtown area…. It’s old Main Street. I love the charm and the twinkle lights and the trees. I like the style of the buildings … it harkens back to an older time when things were simpler. It kind of gives you that sense of nostalgia that ‘Oh this is such a lovely, quiet peaceful area.’ That’s one of my favorite areas of Vista and I’d like to see that expand.”
As far as where she and her husband enjoy going?
“Well, my husband and I really like the Mother Earth Brewery. And then I really like the Lush Tea and Coffee House, it’s organic. I’m a big fan of organic, and I would love to see more organic restaurants. And I think maybe we’re heading in that direction as a whole, and I think you’ll see more of those. If I had it my way I would look for businesses that would bring that type of service into the city. Someone who is healthy, organic, and environmentally conscious, sustainably conscious that’s one of the things I like about the local brewery is that they’re local. These are local residents, they live here, they have art that they’re sharing with the rest of the community. They’re bringing the community together. I think that it’s really wonderful. I’d love to see artists, cheesemakers.”
‘Innovative, progressive and forward-thinking’
If she had to choose three words to describe herself, Coleman would choose “innovative, progressive and forward-thinking.” She is a person who is not afraid to research an issue and think outside of the traditional box it seems. “I’d like us to be independent. I’d like us to be sustainable, where we can supply our own food, our own goods.”
She sees a future where the city and its residents are thriving on locally made goods, locally-grown and locally-made food as well.
“What we should be doing is looking at what the citizens need, what the residents need, bringing in liveable-wage jobs, preferably bringing green jobs to the city, so that our residents don’t have to travel very far to work, so that they could take public transportation and they could walk or ride their bike. It would reduce congestion on our roadways. And I don’t think that bringing more people in to the city in homes and apartments is necessarily the smartest thing that we can do right now.”
Sunshine and CCAs
During the conversation Coleman also mentions her CCA revenue-generating idea, (CCA is an acronym for “consumer choice aggregate” which she previously described as a citizen-owned power plant), also mentioned are FiT (an acronym for Feed in Tariffs), and Lane Sharman.
Not sure who Lane Sharman is? This information is from Sharman’s website SanDiegoEnergyDistrict:
“A CCA is an energy-only Cooperative that pools the demand of a city, county or several jurisdictions into a single buying entity thus exercising competition and creating opportunities for buying local energy from rooftop solar with standard contracts (Feed In Tariff). Our vision is for a CCA that innovates in all areas of finance, energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, energy storage, and microgrids. We look to SDG&E to cooperate with CCA formation as it has done with others like UCSD, Qualcomm and others to create centers of excellence in energy innovation.”
Sharman is also self-described on the website as being “a senior executive with experience in power project development, regulatory affairs, and government relations.”
The CCA idea Coleman is speaking about would apparently be run as a non-profit and the ratepayers it served would be the owners.
Coleman is very excited about bringing this to Vista.
“People have done this before us successfully. So what we can do, … where it’s possible for us, is to have our own local power source that actually generates revenue for the city. And I think being a city where we have sunshine seventy percent of the time that it would be a good fit for us.”
Shade and Power
Asked where would she put these alternative energy-generating solar panels, she said:
“Well, there are different ways to go about it. You can either have a solar farm which is in one particular, concentrated area, or it can be spread out throughout the city. So, for instance the City Hall has a flat roof space, this could be covered with solar panels. The parking lots of every single major shopping center could be covered with solar panels, and … things like that, it serves a double purpose.”
Those purposes being the provision of shade and the generation of power. “They create shade for the cars, shade for the people who shop there, it cools down the cement area and you’re also generating power.”
Besides this, Coleman says she also wants to work on beautifying the city. “I am a fan of trees. I like trees, I want to see more of them in public spaces, parks.”
She adds that we don’t need to do the same old things.
‘We’re already overcrowded’
“What the city has plans for now is to build more homes. So every single vacant lot in Vista is pretty much accounted for with homes. And by building more homes, we’re not really looking ahead to the future. We’re already congested. We’re already overcrowded. We already have parking problems. What we should be doing is looking at what the citizens need, what the residents need, bringing in liveable-wage jobs, preferably bringing green jobs to the city, so that our residents don’t have to travel very far to work, so that they could take public transportation and they could walk or ride their bike. It would reduce congestion on our roadways. And I don’t think that bringing more people in to the city in homes and apartments is necessarily the smartest thing that we can do right now.”
Live stream council meetings
Another idea Candidate Coleman has would be to “live stream” the city council meetings and allow on-topic, appropriate comments to be seen as well, so people can watch it in real-time and not days later. It would be informative and make things easier for residents who could not actually come to the meetings because of their other obligations and responsibilities, yet would include them and allow their participation anyway.
In addition to that, she thinks another change would be very good for the community: change the public comments section of the council agenda to being first and not last. This she proposes because she thinks it is terrible to make citizens wait three or four hours in order to say something to the council members.
With lots of items on an agenda, says Coleman it makes sense. “It’s a simple solution. Maybe some councils don’t want so much public involvement, but this would make it easier.”
In ending the conversation, Coleman says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting new results. “So, I would say that if you want something different, do something different. Vote for someone different.”