Yucaipa City Council Election

In this year's election of City Council, the seats for Districts #1 and #2, currently held by David Avila and Greg Bogh, are up for grabs. This is an important election because it decides in which direction Yucaipa will develop.

Yucaipa City Council Election - Analysis - Nov. 2022

Endorsement of the Friends of the North Bench

District #1: Sherilyn Long
District #2: Nena Dragoo

Candidates of District #1

Matt Garner

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Has a small business and is a partner in a large building materials company. He is endorsed by Bobby Duncan and Justn Beaver. He wants to increase the number of police officers and first responders. He wants huge open spaces. He said in a letter to the public that he is against high density developments, but his definition of low density is “½ to ¼ acre lots and maybe smaller”. He wants increased uptown growth.

Comparing Mr. Garner’s candidate statement with his currently declared stance (forum & letter to neighbors) towards developments, open space, and the future of Yucaipa constitutes a stark U-Turn. Suddenly he is seemingly standing for open space and preserving the rural character of Yucaipa, while in his candidate statement this was not a priority. Blaming Sacramento for everything, while a common theme, is also not helping solve any problems. It is further questionable if his newfound fondness for the environment and open space is his true position, especially considering that he is a friend of Bobby Duncan, who endorsed him, and because he was cited of publicly lauding Bobby Duncan “as a great man who does a lot of service for this town” (abc7 News, Wednesday, April 10, 2019). We are, therefore, wary to believe Mr. Garner’s declared positions towards Yucaipa and its citizens.

Sherilyn Long

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Is a retired dental hygienist is endorsed by David Avila. She wants to grow Yucaipa wisely by following the general plan. In the North Bench that means 1 house per acre. She supports law enforcement and wants to bring integrity to the city council.

Mrs. Long seems to have a clean record and she seems not affiliated with any lobby that could be the ground for a conflict of interest. Her answers at the forum were eloquent, to the point, and consistent with what we had learned about her from other sources, including from her candidate statement, and from interacting with her. What she stands for today seems not to differ from her initial candidate statement, which can be viewed as a sign for integrity and consistency. All of this makes her a genuinely fit candidate for City Council. We did also like the fact that as a woman, she might bring a different perspective to City Council, which is currently dominated by business owners and law enforcement personnel. While we think that it is of value to have expertise in these areas, we think that it is beneficial for a flourishing democracy to have different eyes looking at issues from varying perspectives.

Mark Taylor

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Has worked in healthcare technology and volunteers to keep the city clean. Regarding density, he is willing to work with a revised plan including vineyards with ¾ to ½ acre lots for the homes.

Mark Taylor did create a nice website with information about himself and what he stands for. He does seem to bring expertise from the business and management sides that might be beneficial to City Council. His intentions seem genuinely good as well and there seems to be no potential conflict of interests. What did concern us were his remarks towards zoning and zoning changes. While the General Plan is a living document that can be adapted to reflect changing times, -like laws or the Constitution in general. However, such changes should not be taken lightly, done on a whim, and there should be an important rational for them. It seems that Mr. Tylor is not aware that the proposed changes are mostly there to benefit a very small group of people (developers) in our community and that they do not have the broad support of our city. Our assessment for Mr. Taylor is, therefore, a big question mark.

Erik Sahakian

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Was not present.

It is difficult to assess somebody who does not seem to bother to attend public forums so that the general public has an opportunity to get acquainted with a candidate. Mr. Sahakian does have a weekly column in the News Mirror but that hardly seems a substitute for public outreach, which is paramount for the public office of City Council, where members need to be accessible to the public.

Candidates of District #2

Chris Venable

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Wants the city to grow smartly. He wants the community to go back to what it used to be. When he was asked about building density, he was vague and wanted “open space”. He wants first responders supported.

Mr. Venable is another business owner, who’s business does bring with it some potentially significant conflicts of interest, because grading is inherently linked to development. While his candidate statement seems reasonable, he remains vague concerning “preserving Yucaipa’s rural lifestyle”. His statements during the forum were less than eloquent, which is, while not an absolute requirement, a very important skill that any of member of City Council should possess. It is imperative to be able not only to listen but also to understand sometimes difficult situations and to clearly communicate ideas and solutions to problems. One detail one member of the Friends of the North Bench notices is that the signs for Mr. Venable are identical to those of Mr. Garner. While this is per se not a problem and could be a pure coincident it might hint at a certain connection between Mr. Venable and Mr. Garner.

Nena Dragoo

Candidate Statement / Public Forum
Interpretation / Opinion of the Friends of the North Bench

Mrs. Dragoo is a retired chief financial officer (CFO) and currently works as the church administrator of the Grace Point Church. She is endorsed by Greg Bogh and promotes safety and services for the community. She wants controlled growth and preservation of the rural environment. Mrs. Dragoo is supportive of the current Genera Plan and stated that if the community of the North bench was against the changing the zoning from R1 (Rural Living, 1 dwelling per acre) to a denser zone, then she would support that.

Mrs. Dragoo is the second woman candidate and as for Mrs. Long, we did not see any potential conflicts of interest, especially because they are both retired and have not any business interests to represent. Mrs. Dragoo has held various management positions with an emphasis on accounting, something that could help to keep the City of Yucaipa fiscally sound in the coming years. She too was vague about her position concerning the environment and open space, although she indirectly addressed her position in this respect in her forum deliberation. Being retired is certainly a plus point for Mrs. Dragoo because the office of City Council is a great time commitment.

Public Comments