The first candidate to file for the November city council race says he stands with the sitting council's pro-development wing in setting a course he believes will promote economic vitality in a city teetering on bankruptcy.
And longtime Pacifica resident and political novice Victor Spano says he's determined to make growing Pacifica's economy his top priority.
"I feel I'm aligned with (mayor pro tem) Len Stone and (councilmember) Mary Ann Nihart and the direction that they've tried to take in recent months," Spano said.
"I support the idea of economic development for Pacifica. I believe that city planning and the building process can be streamlined more to assist with new projects coming to Pacifica."
A structural deficit has trimmed a reserve fund of $6 million five or six years ago to just $600,000. And although the current fiscal year's budget has a surplus of about $200,000, Pacifica is by all accounts just one frivolous lawsuit away from being the next Stockton.
Along the way, funding cuts in recent years have left parks, beaches and roads in disrepair, Spano said.
"All this is fueled by a lack of economic development," he said. "If you have more businesses in Pacifica you're going to generate more sales tax revenues."
For Spano, Pacifica's downward economic spiral is personal, as his passion to return the city to a economic vitality, he says.
"I used to drive around Pacifica and we had three car dealers, a movie theater and all the shopping centers were full," Spano said.
"Now we have 45 to 50 vacant shop spaces. That's sales tax dollars that's going to other cities."
Spano says his experience could help bring some of those tax dollars back to Pacifica.
He's made economic development his life's work, serving as an economic development coordinator in Daly City since 1999 and on Pacifica's economic development committee as an appointee since last year. He completed his master's degree in economic development at USC.
"As a council member I want to be a sales person for Pacifica and try to bring back that retail that we once had in the (1980s and 90s)," he said.
He said his economic development experience, combined with his understanding of the inner workings of local government he developed in Daly City, make him uniquely qualified to serve on the council.
Spano touted the Pacifica economic development committee's efforts to get an art gallery off the ground and set a small business incubator program in motion among the accomplishments to which he's contributed.
"I am the only candidate I know of who's worked fulltime in local government," he said. "I feel that gives me an advantage over the other candidates."
He said his status as a political newcomer makes seeking the two-year term a logical choice. The race for the two four-year terms, he says, is for those with more political experience.
"I think there would be the expectation that anyone in that (two-year) seat would have to work twice as hard," Spano said.
"I'm willing to do that."