Valley News Staff
With Temecula City Councilmember Mike Naggar’s announcement in June that he would not seek another term on the city council, the race for the city’s District 2 council seat has been left wide open. Naggar serves on the council from an at-large seat, but with the implementation of city council districts in Temecula three years ago, Naggar was expected to run in District 2, where he lives. Alisha Wilkins, Jessica Alexander and Andy Black are the three candidates who have qualified for the ballot in District 2; however, Wilkins was the only candidate to respond to Valley News’ questions in time for publication. The other candidates’ statements will be run, if received at a later date.
What is your motivation for wishing to serve Temecula and more specifically, the district you serve?
Wilkins: My motivation for running is to be the voice of unification the city needs and a champion for working class families. Families like the military one I go home to each night. Families that transplanted themselves to Temecula because it was here that they found homes they could afford, in safe neighborhoods, near good schools. We need to get back to the fundamentals that gave us our thriving tourist industry and great communities; we need to move forward as a city. It is this vision, in fact, that resulted in Temecula city founder Joan Sparkman’s endorsement of my campaign.
In the upcoming term, what are your top three goals to address or accomplish for the city and/or your district?
Wilkins: Traffic and Transportation: Continuing the city’s ongoing effort to address traffic congestion in and through the city, especially at rush hour, and working to improve transportation options, routes and availability is my priority. Traffic has increased significantly since my family and I moved to Temecula nearly 20 years ago; furthermore, neighbors like my dear friend Ms. Carol, a senior citizen who lives alone and no longer drives, need realistic transportation options to safely make their way to their doctor visits and grocery stores independently.
Economic Development: Technical support for small businesses to strengthen employment growth, including those that drive tourism. As the owner of a women’s business accelerator located in Temecula’s businesses district, my daily engagement with local small-business owners provides me with firsthand knowledge of their challenges and desire for additional support. As a city to 6,648 businesses, it is imperative to our city’s economy that they are thriving and receive the support they need, particularly as we continue to learn from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Getting our fair share: Using my long-standing relationships in Sacramento as a governor-appointed chair of a state commission to make sure Temecula gets its fair share of state funding to tackle traffic and housing, so our children are not priced out of their hometown and older adults can age in place. My work on the Riverside Mission Heritage Project is an example of how I have managed to leverage those relationships to secure funding for working families and veterans in local communities.
What do you bring to the council that is lacking if any? Or what do you bring to the table that makes the council better or more well-rounded?
Wilkins: At this time last year, one of my dear friends and owner of Get-A-Clue Escape Room in Temecula had just been nominated as small business of the year. She is now closing her doors. It will be sometime before we fully understand the devastating impact of COVID-19 to our economy; but our small businesses do not have time to wait. Our city needs someone with governing experience who can begin to make an impact immediately. I am the only candidate with that experience. I am chair of a state commission where I make decisions that impact the lives of 19.7 million women and girls. I make these decisions alongside legislators and other very powerful women. I am also the only candidate who owns a “brick and mortar” small business in our city – Hera Hub Temecula. Therefore, I know firsthand the challenges that our small businesses face because I engaged with their owners every day.
I also have the unique experience of living in Temecula for nearly 20 years as a military family; therefore, I understand the challenges experienced by service members and their families. This is one of the reasons I have obtained the support of military families in my candidacy for city council.
What are the two biggest issues facing the city of Temecula in the next four years that you hope to address?
Wilkins: First, support for families struggling with the effects of COVID-19. Pundits predict an educational gap year occurring for K-12 grade students because of school closure due to COVID-19. While challenges parents have with their own work schedules and their children learning online may be viewed as a school district issue, I beg to differ – it is a community issue. This is one of the reasons I opened the doors of my business to local Temecula high school students to do their online learning. I see these challenges as a community issue because if students are struggling, then parents are not working and that affects their income, which in turn affects our revenues. As a member of the city council, I would do something similar as I have done with my own business but with city recreational facilities and libraries. It would also be helpful to provide students with experiential learning activities through parks and recreations during spring and summer break periods to supplement basic learning and social emotional losses experienced during the shutdown.
Secondly, small-business support. Temecula is home to 6,648 businesses most of which have been negatively impacted in some form by COVID-19. Our businesses are the heartbeat of our city. They employ our neighbors and sustain our economy. They are integral to our success as a city. While there have been funding opportunities to help offset the economic challenges presented by the shut down; what has been missing is the technical support needed to access this funding. One of the many reasons is larger corporations received funding, while other small businesses did not is because they had access to staff, certified public accountants, attorneys and preexisting relationships with financial institutions which made the process of applying for thing like the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program easier. With technical support in these areas, and expansion of funding to businesses that did not qualify for PPP, assistance with application processes and continuing to demand we get our fair share of assistance from the State, I believe we can offset challenges faced by our business community.
What qualifications or personality/intellectual traits do you have that make you appropriate or the right person for the job?
Wilkins: I am the only candidate running in District 2 with nearly 20 years of history in Temecula. When my family and I moved here we were a young military family and have now raised our sons, one of whom was a student and football player at Linfield Christian High School under the leadership of Dechon Burns. During the time we have been a part of this community I was appointed to serve as a state commissioner. I subsequently became the chair of that commission and am currently responsible for the governance of 16 women, six of whom are elected officials. No other candidate on the ballot has this level of governance experience, and as we deal with the impact of COVID-19 on our community it is imperative that the next councilmembers is ready to lead. In addition, I am an organizational psychologist with the skill set of going into organizations and making them run more efficient and effectively. This is precisely why, as I watched parents struggling working and juggling their children’s online learning, I did not wait for my government to act. I opened the doors of my business to local high school students to take their courses at my business. I am a natural problems solver, an experienced leader, with the knowledge to serve as city councilmember. Joan Sparkman and Supervisor Chuck Washington have endorsed my campaign because they both agree I am the right person for this time.
Alisha Wilkins, Ph.D., is a member of The View Church, Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Professional Women’s Roundtable, Temecula Professional Women’s Toastmasters, Audacious – Business Women Group, Temecula Badass Businesswomen, Temecula Startup Week Volunteer and more.
For more information, visit http://Wilkins2020.com.
Valley staff can be reached by email at [email protected].