CORONADO — Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka unsuccessfully ran for Seat 3 on the Southwestern Community College District Board of Trustees in the Nov. 8 election, finishing third out of five candidates.
As of Nov. 30, Roberto Alcantar, district director for State Sen. Marty Block, won with 56,738 votes (39.05 percent), followed by Army and Marine Corps veteran William McLeroy with 35,818 (25.34 percent), Tanaka with 28,006 (19.27 percent), Lei-Chala Wilson, legal advisor to the San Diego Black Police Officers Association, with 14,691 (10.11 percent), and Lander Iriarte, whose background is in finance, with 9,052 (6.23 percent).
About 18,000 absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted, but the outcome is not expected to change.
The five were vying to replace Trustee Humberto Peraza, who decided not to seek re-election. The campus newspaper, The Sun, endorsed Alcantar but also said that Tanaka “would almost certainly make an excellent trustee.”
Tanaka said in his candidate’s statement, “I was born in Honolulu in 1976 and moved to Coronado in 1983. I attended public schools in Coronado from 2nd-12th grades and then went to UCSD, where I was awarded a BA with honors in history and a minor in political science in 1997. I started teaching AP U.S. history in Coronado in 1999 and have been teaching at my alma mater ever since.
“In 2000, at the age of 24, I ran unsuccessfully for the Coronado City Council. Two years later in 2002, I decided to give it one more try and I won a council seat. I was re-elected in 2006 and in 2008, I was elected Coronado’s mayor. I was re-elected mayor in 2012 and because of term limits, I will be stepping down as mayor in December of 2016.
“I want to apply the expertise that I’ve accumulated as a classroom teacher and civic leader toward empowering students and adults in the South Bay. I am excited about the many great things going on at Southwestern College and I want to do my part to improve and protect this institution for our citizenry and for her future generations to come.
“SWCC will be hiring a new superintendent/president this year and if Prop R passes this November 2016, will be managing $389 million in new funding. During my term as mayor, we have successfully hired a new city manager and have prudently budgeted for tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis. I have the experience and vision to guide SWCC through these crucial years and I ask for your support on Nov. 8 …”
He explained his political philosophy: “To embrace George Washington’s call in 1797 to avoid political parties and to instead embrace serving all segments of the public. If elected, I will ignore partisan politics and will focus on balancing the needs of students, taxpayers, and employees. I am endorsed by no political parties or unions. I will be devoted to the needs of my constituents and the many people who depend on SWCC for their pursuit of the American dream.”
Tanaka will be succeeded as mayor by Richard Bailey, who said in a statement, “I would … like to thank Mayor Casey Tanaka for his 14 years of service on the City Council – six as a councilmember and eight as mayor. Mr. Tanaka was able to lead the City Council in a manner that fostered a professional, constructive and respectful dialogue, while utilizing the respective strengths of each councilmember to arrive at decisions that created a better Coronado.
“One of the characteristics I admire most about Mayor Tanaka is his modesty. On the few occasions where the council made a ‘wrong’ decision, he never passed the responsibility on to the entire council, even though it was a collective decision, he would simply accept the criticism and make the necessary adjustments. But whenever someone gave praise for a job well-done, Mayor Tanaka was the first to say the credit belongs to the city staff and City Council, often shirking praise that he had rightfully earned.
“He did this all while adding his own unique sense of humor along the way. In addition to the lives he influenced during his time as mayor, I am inspired by the young lives he continues to influence as a teacher. Always approachable and available, I think Mayor Tanaka is and will always be the ‘people’s mayor.’ He has left some big flip-flops to fill.”