By JEFF CLEMETSON
Patricia Dillard made the decision to run for La Mesa City Council after she heard that Dr. Akilah Weber was willing to vacate her seat to run for State Assembly. With Weber’s blessing and endorsement in the race, she believes she is the best candidate to replace her.
“I believe that when Dr. Weber was on City Council that she did an excellent job … and she chose me because she trusts that I will continue to do the same for La Mesans,” Dillard said. “I know that La Mesans care about having someone in office who cares about them and I’ve already demonstrated that and I’d like to continue working in that.”
Dillard — a native San Diegan and “military brat” who considers herself “rooted right here in La Mesa” after moving to the city in 1996 — cites her recent work on the Community Police Oversight Task Force as the main catalyst for her run for office.
“I’ve always volunteered my time for various things over the years while raising my children and just participating as a resident here in La Mesa,” she added.
As part of the task force, Dillard helped write the city ordinance for police oversight that was eventually approved by City Council and lead to the formation of the Community Police Oversight Board of which she currently serves on as vice chair.
“I also was asked [to run for City Council] by several community members who noticed the work I had been doing on CPOB and also last year with the Community Oversight Task Force and thought that with all my background, my business background and being so well known in the community I could be a good match.”
Dillard, a sales and marketing professional who also runs a publishing company, said one of her priorities if she is elected will be to “help businesses get back on track post-COVID-19.”
“Our businesses are determined to move forward and be creative and do the best they can and I want to be supportive of that,” she said.
Alongside helping businesses, Dillard said her two main issues are criminal justice reform and homelessness.
“They are all intertwined and they cover a lot of different issues that La Mesa is facing right now,” she said, adding that during her campaigning, she found that homelessness is the “number one concern of La Mesans.”
Another area of concern of residents is housing and the pace of building in the city and its potential affect on traffic.
“I’ve been walking, knocking and talking to a lot of La Mesans and there have been people who have brought that up,” she said. “How are we going to have the ability to experience the La Mesa that we have all grown to know and love and we also have an issue with the fact that we have a growing population?”
La Mesa, she added, is an attractive city for people because of its proximity to other cities and SDSU.
“When it comes to building, I think that it should be all within the consideration of all those factors, we can’t ignore it that we have growth,” she said. “But I do believe that building apartments on trolley lines is a good idea, especially to reduce emissions — to encourage people to own less cars or use the trolley more often that they would if they just jumped in their cars.”
Although Dillard said she recognizes that public transportation in the region is limited and “doesn’t go everywhere,” she is “behind continuing support for SANDAG in regards to environmental concerns” and is in favor of strong support for the city’s Climate Action Plan. “We have to start somewhere and building apartment complexes near trolley lines is the best way to help address our environmental issues and at the same time provide a place for people to live.”
Dillard also wants to provide the residents of La Mesa with a new library and believes that the approach to finding funding for the project needs to be changed.
“It’s not really about the money. It’s about the community seeing the true value in the library,” she said. “My approach is different in that I feel that if we create programs that are attractive for the community and that the community will want to utilize, it will create far more value and then we won’t have to worry so much about the $35 million [cost].”
Specifically, Dillard said she would highlight the programs of a modern library. “More of a futuristic type of library and not just thinking about a library that is just a place you go to check out books,” she said, adding that that approach will draw the needed funding.
When it comes to the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and any mandates it might impose, Dillard said she would wait to “see what happens,” and pointed out that the city has already taken precautions with mask mandates indoors at public buildings, as well as the local business community taking its own precautions to minimize exposure to the virus.
“I think that there’s a lot of people I talk to that say, ‘We just need to get past this.’ Just want to get back to our normal lives,” she said. “It’s hard to talk about mandates. On a national level, I think that corporations and the Biden administration are really having to think of the big picture and they’re concerned that they need to protect their people. On a local level, I see the businesses doing the exact same thing.”
For more information about Patricia Dillard, visit www.patriciadillard.com.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.