Election day is less than a month away, and three seats from the Lodi City Council are up for grabs. Meet the candidates and find out who you think is best for the job.
November 11, 2022 is quickly approaching, and there are many elections the citizens of Lodi should know about. Three high-profile elections are for the Lodi City Council Districts 1, 2, and 3. The terms last four years, and Council Members have the chance of becoming Mayor or Mayor Pro Tempore (Vice Mayor) for one year. See the image below for a color-coded map of Lodi’s five districts.
I reached out to most of the candidates with the hope of educating Lodi’s citizens and guiding them toward the best candidate, or at least the candidate that aligns best with their political positions. I asked three simple questions and copied their answers below, only editing simple typos.
#1: Give us a brief bio of yourself. (ex: Name, age, district you are running in, current occupation, time you have lived in Lodi)
#2: Why should Lodians vote for you?
#3: Is there something specific in Lodi that you have your eye on?
Unfortunately, District 1 has no contenders running against incumbent Alan Nakanishi. For that reason, I did not contact Council Member Nakanishi for this questionnaire. District 2’s candidates include Lisa Craig, Hector Galvan, Summer Pennino, and Sandra Vargas, with incumbent Mark Chandler retiring. District 3’s candidates include Cameron Bregman, Doug Kuehne (Incumbent), and Rita Mashni. Everyone but Hector Galvan and Doug Kuehne have responded at this time. Their answers will be included if they choose to respond at a later date.
District 2 Candidates
#1: Lisa Craig, born and raised in Lodi, graduated from Tokay High School, running in District 2 where I lived with my parents and two brothers and attended Erma B. Reese elementary school. I worked for the family business and eventually completed college with a degree in historic preservation. I relocated for work to the Maryland / Virginia area, serving with various local government planning departments, a national nonprofit preservation organization, and a military family housing development executive. I raised two sons in Maryland, where they continue to live and work in the electrical and carpentry trades. I returned home to Lodi after my husband passed in 2017 to be here near my parents, brothers and their kids.
#2: Not only do I have experience working in public service with local government, but I also have deep roots in Lodi and since my return I’ve actively engaged with organizations and causes I believe in through volunteer and financial support. I support those groups that provide services to the elderly, to mothers and children escaping abuse, to disadvantaged teens, to small business, and to ensuring public safety. Currently, I’m President of the Lodi Tokay Rotary and Chair of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce Business Development Committee. I’m also a former Lodi Planning Commissioner and now serve on the City’s Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee. I believe that Lodians will benefit from my service on the City Council because I have experience in crafting and implementing policies that benefit property owners, cultural organizations, independent business, and neighborhood residents. Talking about the needs of the community is one thing, working with city staff to get good law into place that will help vs. hinder individual success is what really matters and that’s where I have proven success.
#3: I believe we have significant potential for the redevelopment of all those vacant and abandoned locations in our downtown area that could better serve the needs of our local consumers, small business owners, visitors and established agricultural industries. That’s my long term view.
Shorter term I’d like to see the focus on public safety through getting more officers and trained paramedics into our first responder ranks. This isn’t just about drug and gang violence, it’s also about the discomfort community members have regarding the presence of transients in neighborhoods, downtown and the gateways to our city. It’s about parents who don’t go to public parks because of homeless sleeping on benches in playground areas. It’s about needles left on the sidewalk and drug dealing on neighborhood streets. It’s about the majority of homeless living next to the highway, in the agricultural and industrial areas of the city, or on the Mokelumne River who are experiencing drug addiction and mental disorders. Providing temporary housing isn’t the solution. Investment in treatment services through local providers and job training programs are what’s needed so these individuals can be self-reliant and, in turn, give back to the community.
#1: Hello, my name is Summer Pennino and I am 40 years old. I am running for Lodi City Council, District 2 and currently own my own consulting business, SNP events and work part-time for NBC’s The Voice. I am proud to be born and raised in Lodi and have lived here my entire life with the exception of college and a short, 3-year stint in Los Angeles.
#2: At an early age, my parents, Phil and Melanie Pennino, instilled in me a strong sense of community, and I would be honored to use my unique life experiences to continue that legacy of public service.
For example, I started my community involvement in High School as part of the Lodi Youth Commission and continued serving the Commission as an adult advisor after college. Through this experience, I learned how to listen and solve problems collaboratively.
I’m running because I remember what Lodi was like 10, 20 and 30 years ago, as I’ve lived here most of my life. Over the years, I have realized how fortunate we are to live in such a special place, and I am committed to protecting our city for generations to come.
I would be honored to have your vote and believe that working together we can accomplish more for Lodi. I believe that all aspects of the city; individuals, business and government, should strive for excellence on a daily basis.
I have had many job opportunities that have required me to be a creative problem solver, always having a plan A, B and C. I believe Lodi should think creatively and be open to solutions that might be “out of the box” but effective, keeping in line with our traditions and values.
#3: If elected, I will continue to champion Lodi!
I will work with our Police and Fire Departments to help make Lodi more attractive to new hires.
I will find mental health services and drug rehabilitation for our unhoused population and be open to resources and programs that are needed in addition to the Access Center.
My passion is engaging the youth of Lodi. I want to re-start the Teen Lead program with the Lodi Youth Commission along with partnering with local businesses on summer internship programs for High School students. As a High School student, I graduated from the Teen Lead program; and it was one of my most valuable and rewarding opportunities. Providing opportunities to our youth today will ensure Lodi has future leaders, business owners, and an engaged workforce.
#1: My name is Sandra Vargas, 39 years-old, and have been living in Lodi for 22 years. I am a candidate for District 2, and am the CEO of Central Valley Arts & Culture (an after school program for gang prevention).
#2: No other candidate has dedicated as much of their life to Lodi as I have, while raising three children in our public schools, starting a non-profit organization, serving on a City Committee, and acting as a bridge between the police and our Latino community.
I also feel (and have heard by many people) that no other candidate matches the energy, positivity, and compassion that I have demonstrated in the last six years of my community work.
#3: Our homeless need expanded programs to help them rehabilitate and get off the streets. Our seniors need more time to safely cross busy streets. Our small businesses need help navigating through the City’s complex codes and requirements. I want to invest in a greener Lodi with more trees, cleaner parks, and more bike paths. I want to advocate for our City’s animal shelter and secure additional resources from state and federal government, offering, for example, expanded veterinary care. I also want to build on my existing relationship with the Lodi Police Department and help them reach out to our multi-cultural neighbors.
District 3 Candidates
#1: Cameron Bregman, 21, Insurance/Investments. Born and Raised in Lodi. Have lived 20yrs in Lodi
#2: I would bring a tenacity, work ethic, and humbleness to city council. To go out and constantly seek the needs of Lodians and businesses alike. Collaborating and working together with our PD and fire department for a safer Lodi. Bringing new ideas and a new voice to Lodi to tackle homelessness and the that many Lodians cannot afford Lodi.
#3: The homeless shelter or access center as it is known, has the opportunity to do great things to help the homeless. It also has coaches, tvs, and no job training! That desperately needs to change.
Along with the homeless epidemic we need 1. Help those who want to be helped especially with mental health issues. 2. Ensure we do no entice the homeless from other areas to enter Lodi because of our services, or causing those homeless but able to work to become complacent.
A hand up not a hand out.
We also need to educate the public on city council districts and what the city is doing when it comes to tackling these problems.
For businesses, we don’t know our own rights to a large extent. There is a stigma that the homeless have more rights than we do. The city needs to educate its businesses what they can and cannot do.
#1: My name is Rita Mashni. I have been a resident of Lodi for 19 years, I’m married with three children, and currently running for city council to represent district three and ensure that not only my constituents in District 3 have a voice but also ensure that all the citizens of Lodi have a voice at city hall. My occupation working with the homeless community as a mental health counselor and my experience with nonprofit organizations like the United ways of San Joaquin county has given me a better understanding of how to work with the homeless community, as well as how to seek funding and collaboration to develop a plan that will get Lodi’s unsheltered back into society. I have been a member of a number of civic and nonprofit organizations, including Human Without Borders, AmeriCorps, and Californians for all Volunteers, and I love to be a voice for all. My biggest goal is to make our communities more inclusive and connected through inclusive zoning, fair housing laws, ensuring everyone can access public transportation, and ensuring Lodi becomes safer, healthier, and more prosperous for all its citizens, especially our children.
#2: I believe Lodi needs strong leadership with a new vision, integrity, honesty, and the determination to move Lodi forward while maintaining its safe and small-town quality of life. If the people of Lodi want a safer, healthier, and more prosperous city for all its citizens, then I’m the candidate they should vote for. Lodi is where my children were born and raised, and it’s the city I want to grow old in. I love our community and want to make sure it remains a great place to live, work, raise a family, and grow old in.
#3: Yes, after the Covid-19 pandemic, many small family-owned businesses either swiftly pivoted to survive or struggled to stay afloat. I’m planning to focus and work toward a robust economic recovery and long-term growth. I believe Lodi can recover and become a fun city with strong public safety, thriving businesses, good-paying jobs, and a top-tier education system.