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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of Lemon GroveCandidate for City Council

Photo of Michael E. Summers

Michael E. Summers

Small Business Owner
2,136 votes (14.89%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Economic redevelopment
  • Public safety
  • Community solidarity and quality of life



Profession:Small Business Owner
Assistant/Acting General Manager, Westfield America (North County Shopping Center), Escondido, CA (2006–2008)
Director of Facility Operations, San Diego Symphony Orchestra Association, San Diego, CA (2003–2006)
Unified Port District Liaison, San Diego Centre City Advisory Committee (CCAC) — Elected position (2004–2006)
Pre-Design Building Subcommittee Member, San Diego Centre City Advisory Committee (CCAC) — Elected position (2004–2006)
Chairman, The City of El Cajon Arts and Culture Commission — Appointed position (2001–2005)
Development Operations Manager, San Diego Opera, San Diego, CA (1998–2000)
Treasurer, La Mesa-Spring Valley Educational Foundation — Appointed position (1994–1997)
Facilities/Telecommunications Manager, Cox Communications, San Diego, CA (1987–1996)
Captain (Airborne/Ranger Qualified), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1981–1986)


National University, San Diego, CA Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Financial Management (1992)
Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL Bachelor of Arts (BA), 1. Psychology 2. Biblical Studies (1982)

Community Activities

President/Board Member, Humanist Fellowship of San Diego (2008–2012)
Volunteer, Habitat For Humanity & Feed America San Diego (2009–2012)
Volunteer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego (4S Ranch Branch) (2006–2009)
Member, Escondido Chamber of Commerce, Escondido, CA (2006–2009)
President,, TeleCommunications Association, Greater San Diego Chapter (1996–1997)


I enlisted in the Marine Corps and completed a tour of Vietnam in 1971 – 72.  After my enlistment was up, I worked with my hands in the construction trades for a number of years before starting on a college degree at a community college in Florida and then transferring to Wheaton College.  I was the Cadet Commander and Honors Graduate of my ROTC unit at Wheaton.  After graduation, I accepted a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers.  Before leaving the Army, I had successfully completed a Company Command at the rank of Captain.

 I have held management positons with a number of large organizations such as the Marine Corps, Army Corps of Engineers, Cox Communications, Westfield America, and smaller ones such as the San Diego Opera, San Diego Symphony, and the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla.  While working at the same time to keep food on the table, I earned BA degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies and an MBA in Financial Management.  Now I am a co-owner of a small business in downtown Lemon Grove.

 I have served on numerous boards and committees.  While working in downtown San Diego, I was elected to the Centre City Advisory Committee (CCAC) and while on the Committee, served as the Chair of its Arts & Culture subcommittee, liaison to the Unified Port District of San Diego, and was a member of the CCAC’s Pre-Design Subcommittee for building projects in the downtown area. 

 In addition, I was the Chair of the El Cajon Arts & Culture Commission, Treasurer of the La Mesa – Spring Valley Education Foundation, President of the Greater San Diego chapter of the TeleCommunications Association (TCA), President/Board Member of the Humanist Fellowship of San Diego, a member of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, and a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.

Questions & Answers

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

What is the most significant challenge facing the City of Lemon Grove, and if you are elected, what steps will you take to address it?
Answer from Michael E. Summers:

The most significant challenge facing the City of Lemon Grove at this time is Economic Redevelopment.

Economic redevelopment is a complex undertaking that has many interrelated parts:  city government, local business leaders, local developers, and last, but not least, taxpayers.  All have a significant part to play in the process of re-imagining the local community.

Since the demise of Redevelopment Agencies in 2012, many small cities are hard-pressed to find monies to attract investment dollars.   Prior law allowed cities to cap and divert property tax revenue to a RDA and use those funds to stimulate development within that particular area. Now, Lemon Grove is particularly hard-pressed in that we are bordered by cities which have undergone significant redevelopment or which have large commercial development already in place.  Specifically, College Grove shopping center (San Diego) to the west, La Mesa (and Santee) to the north, and El Cajon to the west.

Lemon Grove lacks large tracts of undeveloped property which local developers would find attractive for economic investment.  In addition, the city does not have a vast reserve of uncommitted money that can be used to buy existing properties for redevelopment in order to stimulate private commercial ventures.

On top of that, I believe Lemon Grove has an image problem.  The city looks tired and run-down.  It’s south of Hwy-94, which places on the middle-to-lower rung of the economic revenue ladder.  Roads and infrastructure appear to be crumbling faster than they can be repaired.

So, under these circumstances, who would be willing to invest their limited dollars here in Lemon Grove?  Even local business owners, homeowners, and other citizens are not willing to suffer through more taxation when they believe city roads and infrastructure suffering.  In the short term, taxpayers have other priorities. 

And to be clear, there are no short term, or easy, solutions.  If there were, someone would have implemented them by now.  Believing one has found the answer presupposes that the current Mayor, City Council, and staff have not risen to the challenge or, more generously, have overlooked such possibilities due to the exigencies of office.

I am convinced that they have set the city on the path to regeneration.    In our particular circumstances, the road to economic redevelopment is paved with good intentions… and with the SanDAG seed money for Connect Main Street and the Downtown Village Specific Plan Expansion.  This could be the humble beginning of the Lemon Grove renaissance for which we have been hoping.   A renaissance that leads to a revitalization of our local businesses and a higher quality of life for our citizens… and the tax revenues that make both possible.

Where do I fit in?  I don’t presume to have The Answers yet.  However, I do have the desire, the passion, the experience, and the vision to be a leader in this process.  And I can draw upon a lifetime of leadership in both the private and public sectors and a track record of accomplishments to bring to the City Council.

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