Kamaal Martin: Mayoral Candidate Highlight

City of Lemon Grove Mayoral Candidate Highlight: Kamaal Martin
EnjoyLemonGrove.com is still waiting on responses from the some of the remaining candidates from our requests, today we will be posting the response from Kamaal Martin who is running for the Lemon Grove Mayoral role this coming election. Below are the questions we have asked and the answers the candidate has provided.
Q1. What is your name and what is your relevant experience related to qualifications for being the Mayor?“My name is Kamaal Martin and I believe that my educational, professional and volunteer background provide me with an ideal balance of skills, experiences and relationships to serve Lemon Grove as its next mayor. I received a Bachelors degree from the University of Oregon in History and minored in Arts & Administration. Staying at the U of O for graduate school I received a Masters degree in International Studies, with a focus on Cross-Cultural Communication and Conflict Resolution. When I first came to San Diego County in 2005, I worked in a wide range of fields from driving a taxi and working as a special education assistant, to automobile sales and working for Big Brothers Big Sisters. My career in public service officially began 2008 where I worked on my first political campaign and worked for a number of years in the California State Legislature. First as a field representative, then as a special assistant to Assembly Speakers Karen Bass and John Perez. My last role in the legislature was as district director for Assemblymember Shirley Weber when she entered office in 2012. I transitioned to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and served as their government relations specialist. I learned a great deal about land use, advocacy with the federal government and hosting and working alongside heads of state and high-level officials from around the world. I’ve been an adjunct professor, teaching political science at Mesa College. I currently work with the California Charter School Association as their director of advocacy in Southern California and I have a financial services practice where I provide financial education and help community members create generational wealth and provide for their families. I’ve also been a non-profit leader and have provided years of board service within the community. In addition to currently being on the executive committee of the NAACP San Diego and I’m board chair of Project New Village. Our organization is on the cutting edge of resident-led efforts to build stronger neighborhoods, stimulate collective investment in better health and maximize the impact of investment to address social inequities. In my role as board chair, I play a key role in stewarding our flagship “Good Food District HUB” project, a $20 million mixed-use development featuring a public market, food incubator spaces, certified kitchen, workforce development opportunities, office space and a housing element for seniors! I also spent a number of years coaching youth soccer in our AYSO LG/Spring Valley region. Then my kids got sick of me being their coach…LOL.”
Q2. Why do you believe the people of Lemon Grove should elect you?“I believe the people of Lemon Grove should elect me for a number of reasons. I have the skills, relationships and experiences necessary to hit the ground running in service of this community. I understand the needs of our community from many different perspectives and am able to connect with everyone in our diverse city. Our campaign is sharing a vision for the future of Lemon Grove that reflects our heritage by transforming our city into the cleanest and greenest town in San Diego County and an oasis of wellness, greenspace and a destination for arts and culture. But perhaps most importantly, I believe the people of Lemon Grove deserve to have a leader who will listen to residents, unite them in a shared sense of purpose and can work effectively with their peers.”
Q3. What are your primary objectives if you are elected as the Lemon Grove Mayor?“Economic development and the public health and safety of this community are my primary objectives and where we need to focus our energy. Safer streets, proper lighting, sidewalks, increasing accessibility to our recreation center and reducing the amount of people experiencing homelessness. I want to focus on revitalizing our Downtown Village, supporting local business and bringing in outside funds to complete our Connect Main Street project.”
Q4. Are you concerned about building a better relationship between law enforcement and local community members? What would you do for building community support for law enforcement?“With our law enforcement expenditures accounting for nearly 45% of our general fund, I think we must look deeply at our contract with the Sheriff’s department and ensure we have the right tool for the right job in every possible situation. The issues that account for a large percentage our sheriff responses like homelessness, mental health and substance abuse are really public health problems and can’t be arrested away. Law enforcement will be the first to confirm this reality. While we’re reassessing the tools at our disposal through traditional law enforcement, relationship building is going to become even more important. I’ve been having conversations with one of the West Coast’s pre-eminent trainers and provider of best practices in community conscious policing “Training 4 Transformation”. They’ve done incredible work in the Pacific Northwest to address ways we can humanize our collective experiences and bring people together who may otherwise remain at a distance.”
Q5. Considering the city is having issues with its budget, what are your ideas for solving these issues?“Our cities financial woes need to be addressed with some of our best thinking. I simply can’t believe that the same people who’ve watched our city decline can now be relied upon to fix these challenges. Building housing that leverages transit and the city’s proximity to downtown should be a big part of our economic development strategy. Lemon Grove has to rebrand itself, create an identity, and market itself to attract investment and new businesses. I think taxes have to form a significant part of our strategy, but we can’t tax our way back to prosperity. If elected, I would support a new tax measure as a cornerstone of our development and how we stop the bleeding. I see three tiers of economic development: stabilize, sustain and strengthen. What are the things we need to do immediately, then what are our mid-range and long-term goals? Our belief that Lemon Grove can become a model of a clean and green city within San Diego county and California is where we need to focus. Along with other great assets like our school district, transit and being only 10 minutes from downtown, 20 minutes from the beach, 25 minutes from the border. We are the gateway to East County, but we are also Southeastern San Diego and our futures are linked. Framing investment around the Greater Southeastern San Diego is going to be a big part of how we grow and continue to attract attention, investment and capital into this area. There is a tremendous amount of shared need for investment, improved infrastructure, and wealth development. Partnerships with neighboring cities is a sound investment with almost 300,000 people in the corridor from the 94 to the 54 and the 15 to the 125, with Lemon Grove taking the lead! Part of Chollas Creek begins in our town, and we can do something transformational in terms of watershed restoration, green space, economic development, urban agriculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, job and skills training to create a corridor that rivals the prosperity of any other corridor in San Diego County. Let’s use the borders and boundaries of our environment to frame the thinking and create this restorative, regenerative, cooperative economic effort that is able to bring in foundation money, grant money, private lending to do the type of projects that we want to get done. Connect Main Street is a great project is and would support the creation of a green belt. Twenty years from now I want to see an uninterrupted path of green space where someone could walk or bike safely from Lemon Grove down to the bay in National City.”
Q6. Measure J is up for vote this election: what is your opinion on this, will you be voting for or against it, and why?“It’s taken our city far too long to stimulate and monetize and the cannabis industry since it became legalized. I will vote to support Measure J and will work to create healthier relationships between cannabis entrepreneurs and our city officials.”
Q7. On a personal note, so the people of Lemon Grove can learn more about you: What are your favorite places to eat in Lemon Grove, and what would you say are your favorite activities or hobbies?“Some of my favorite spots to eat here are Lemon Grove Thai Food, Pollo Grill, Coops and Tuna Sushi! I love the outdoors and growing up in Hawaii, I enjoy anything having to do with the ocean like freediving, spearfishing and bodysurfing. Planning on getting a Surf Mat soon! Can’t wait to play with that. Art is a BIG part of my life too. In addition to going to galleries, studios and museums, I paint and have written a few short plays. I used to play in an indoor soccer league pretty regularly and I’ve enjoyed martial arts for many years. Though to be completely honest, I don’t enjoy getting kicked in the head in my 40’s as much as I did in my younger years. Trying to hold to as many brain cells as I can!”

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