Monday, January 17, 2011

Googins, Faigin battle for first city attorney in Chula Vista

Googins, Faigin face tough battle for first city attorney
By Khari Johnson, SDNN
June 8, 2010

Up to now, the city attorney in Chula Vista was appointed by the city council but Proposition Q — a 2008 ballot measure — changed city charter to make it an elected position and Chula Vistans will go to the polls Tuesday to choose between Glen Googins and Robert Faigin as their first elected city attorney.

With a salary of more than $200,000, the city attorney will be the highest paid position in Chula Vista city government.

Both Googins and Faigin promise to follow the rule of law, claim to be independent and accuse his opponent of being beholden to special interests trying to influence City Hall.

They see the position as an advisor, not policy maker, and share concerns expressed by members of the City Council and Proposition Q opponents that the office has the potential to become politicized and impact legal advice offered to the council and city departments.

But that’s also why both claim he should be elected, not his opponent.

“Obviously, now theoretically they’re more responsible to the people than the city council members,” said current City Attorney Bart Miesfeld, “but day to day responsibilities won’t change,” said

Faigin, a resident of Lakeside, has been the county sheriff’s chief counsel since 2002 and decided to run after members of the South County sheriff’s office told him no qualified candidates sought the position.

Googins opened his private practice handling real estate and development issues in 2004 after 11 years of similar work in the city attorney’s office. Disagreements with then City Attorney Ann Moore led Googins to resign, in the process receiving a $175,000 severance package.

Joseph Casas, the candidate endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party, dropped out of the race in March and is currently representing Police Chief David Bejarano against accusations of fraud by a former business partner.

“The downside to turning it into an elected position is that instantly the developers, Corky McMillan, all of those people start pumping money into campaigns because they want to influence city politics,” Faigin said.

By the May 27 financial filing deadline, Googins had raised $33,000 from 100 donors, including teachers, border patrol agents and city residents, but also several lawyers, real estate developers. In addition he raised nearly $1,000 from executives from The Corky McMillin Companies, including company president and CEO Mark McMillin.

Googins endorsers include the Chula Vista Police Officer and Firefighter Associations, former City Attorney John Kaheny, state assemblymember Mary Salas, County Supervisor Greg Cox and The Republican Party of San Diego County, though it is a non-partisan race.

About one-third of donors to Googin’s campaign are Chula Vista residents.

“I’m not promising anyone anything,” Googins said. “Just because I’ve represented developers doesn’t mean I’m going to favor any developers. When I’m with the city, the city’s my client.”...

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