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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Local

City of CoronadoCandidate for City Council

Photo of Whitney Benzian

Whitney Benzian

Small Business Owner
4,395 votes (33.03%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Preserving the character and charm of Coroando.
  • Guarding public tax dollars.
  • Facilitating open government and citizen participation.

Experience

Education

Pepperdine University Master of Public Policy (M.P.P), Public Policy and American Government (2005)
Sarah Lawrence College B.A. , Liberal Arts (2002)

Community Activities

Director, Downtown San Diego Partnership (2014–current)
Director, Coronado Island Film Festival (2014–2016)
Director, Coronado First Bank (2012–2014)
Director, WildCoast (2012–2013)
President, Coronado Historical Association (2006–2009)

Biography

Whitney Benzian is passionate about Coronado. He grew up and went to school in Coronado. He is now a local community volunteer and small business owner.

As one of Coronado’s most committed civic leaders, he is running for City Council to maintain Coronado’s outstanding quality of life, while bringing a fresh set of eyes to old problems. Whitney has developed a reputation as a collaborator and problem-solver as a volunteer and professional. He will bring these skills to the job of councilmember.

Whitney is a small businessman and executive at non-profit trade association. Prior to this, he spent nearly a decade as a public relations practitioner and public policy advisor in San Diego’s public and private sectors.

As a community volunteer for over a decade, Whitney has worked on the culture and arts in our community, historical preservation, the environment and more.

Specifically, in 2005, he helped re-established the Coronado Active 20-30 Club, a civic service club for young adults, where he served as President. A number of years ago he jumped off the board of the Coronado Historical Association where he volunteered as President for 3 of his 4 years.

He is a former Director of Coronado First Bank and WildCoast, a bi-national environmental conservation organization. He now serves on the Membership Committee of the Coronado Yacht Club and as a Director of the Board for the Coronado Island Film Festival.

Over the bridge, Whitney is a Director of the Downtown San Diego Partnership where he assists the organization in addressing chronic homelessness.

The San Diego News Network named him a “35 Under 35” local leader to watch. He is a recent graduate of the Public Leadership Institute. The Water Education Foundation selected him to their California Water Leaders Program, a year-long commitment where he enhanced his understanding of California and San Diego’s pressing water policy challenges.

Whitney is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where he received his B.A. in Liberal Arts. He received his Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University. During his undergraduate and graduate years he studied and worked in England and Argentina.

Whitney and his wife January live in town with Whitney’s two daughters, Emma (8) and Annie (6), and just had their first child together, George, in June.

 

   
 

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of San Diego (1)

What is the most significant challenge facing the City of Coronado, and if you are elected, what steps will you take to address it?
Answer from Whitney Benzian:

TRAFFIC.

 

Outside of summer, the majority of traffic is Navy commuters so my response will focus on this aspect.  Summer traffic is a different animal.  

 

For too long our residents have struggled to efficiently and safely move across town especially in the early morning and mid to late afternoon hours.  

 

This is dangerous and should be our guiding light, the reason we pursue policies that modify speeding and traffic problems.  Simple, clear cut answers don’t exist otherwise our current and past councils would’ve handled this problem already.  The Council currently has over fifteen requests in with Caltrans to modify traffic problems but it is unclear how the agency will respond. 

 

That said, no matter how or if they respond we should continue to examine and implement new ideas and strategies.  Following are some new ideas I would explore if elected:

 

  • Work with Caltrans or, if we move ahead with Relinquishment, to alter the landscape of Third and Fourth Streets ourselves. For example, narrow third and fourth streets by a lane and possibly add chicanes -an artificial, aesthetically pleasing street features to slow traffic – and bulbouts. Bulbouts, by shortening the distance from one side of the street to the other, would aid in slowing traffic and allow bike riders and pedestrians to cross the street much faster  and in a safer fashion than now.    

  • I would like to work with the Tree Committee to plant more trees along third and fourth to create canopies along the corridors to create more of an avenue and neighborhood-feel.  This element coupled with streetscape changes mentioned above and installing the antique lamp posts contemplated by the current Council could work to subconsciously slow drivers.  Adding more trees would also help to absorb the air pollution caused by the heavy traffic.

  • It is time for Coronado to become a Digital City (AKA a Smart City).  I have more to say on what I mean by this but for the purpose of answering this question, I would like to start a conversation with the Navy, our Congressman and Uber (the car sharing company) to explore a carpooling partnership.  The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has a pretty good hold on where our commuters live and are driving from. Let’s borrow what Google is doing in Silicon Valley and provide strong incentives for Navy commuters to hop on an Uber Shuttle. It would have WiFi and other minor amenities to encourage ridership.  Perhaps there is a financial incentive or an award system that encourages participation.  Alleviating Navy traffic is also an environmental issue.  Less cars on the road means cleaner air.

     

    It is my belief that we can find a way to make such a program work by finding the right partners. Where there is a will there is a way. At the very least, we must try.

     

    As your next councilmember, I will bring new approaches, like these, and a fresh set of eyes to solving our cities oldest problems.  Thank you.

 

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I believe many of society's challenges, but not all, can be solve at the local level by the citizens who are affected by them daily.

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