The Blue Wave that swept the nation in November reverberated all the way to the Escondido City Council, with the election of Mayor Paul McNamara and Councilmember Consuelo Martinez who joined Olga Diaz to create a 3-2 progressive majority. Now another fresh face – Linda Stanwood – seeks to bolster Escondido’s new leadership by taking down long-time conservative incumbent Mike Morasco in District 4.
Although the election is more than a year and a half away, Stanwood is already mounting what she hopes will be a formidable campaign. She realizes that it will take a well-organized, amply-financed effort to defeat Morasco, who has served on the council since 2010 and who was elected twice before with the endorsement of ex-Congressman Daryl Issa and disgraced Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr.
Stanwood’s hope is to meet voters face-to-face and truly listen to their concerns. That will take time and dedication, but she believes it’s worth it, and she is determined to make a positive difference.
“I have lots of time and energy to devote to talking to the people of the 4th District,” Stanwood says, “and, even more important, to listening to them talk about their visions for Escondido. I intend to meet as many people from District 4 as possible, to hear what they are saying about how we can work together to make Escondido an even better place to live, and to share with them my own ideas. I have unique skills and experience to offer the people of the 4th District as their Councilmember, and my strategy is to make sure as many people as possible know that.”
Noting the challenges of the campaign, Stanwood remains undaunted. “Mike Morasco considerably outspent his opposition in both of the two elections he won,” she said. “In the last election, his Democratic opponent spent less the $4,000 and did not run a real campaign. I will be launching a real campaign. Morasco has not had a lot of serious opposition; I intend to be serious opposition.”
Stanwood is running for City Council because in the years she has lived here, she has seen a lot of threats to the things she loves about Escondido. “I am concerned about development that does not put a premium on preserving the hiking trails, the agriculture, and the open spaces that make Escondido unique,” she said. “I am concerned about the city policies that have been divisive and alienating to many of our diverse population. And I am concerned about the increasing risk of fire and drought that need to be addressed locally and immediately as we struggle with the challenges of climate change.”
The music director of Escondido First Methodist Church, David Lee Shearer, has known Stanwood for years, and he supports her candidacy. “She presents thoughtful and well-considered arguments,” he said. “She is highly educated and well-traveled, and she has been energized by our current national disgrace. I urge citizens of Escondido to find out more about our neighbor, Linda Stanwood.”
When Stanwood was canvassing for McNamara in District 4 during the last election, many of the people she talked to expressed concern about the unfettered amount of development of large, single-family home projects in the open country surrounding the City of Escondido. “There were a number of developments proposed in the open space areas surrounding Escondido that received the support of the previous Mayor and council majority but were opposed by many people in Escondido,” she said. “I agree that this urban sprawl poses a serious problem for fire safety and for water conservation. This type of development also burdens city services without a corresponding increase in the amount of good, affordable housing for our residents. We currently have an alarming shortage of both apartment housing and affordable housing.”
Stanwood is glad to see the McNamara and the new council majority are beginning to address people’s concerns about indiscriminate development in Escondido’s open spaces and rural areas. “On behalf of the people of District 4, I would support this change of direction and would also encourage more affordable and attractive apartment and condominium development in downtown Escondido as an environmentally responsible alternative to these large, single-family home projects,” she said.
The direction of city government since the 2018 election encourages Stanwood, who supports those changes. “I was pleased to see the City Council and the Mayor working on green projects such as the purchase of hybrid vehicles for the Escondido Police and the building of a new water reclamation project for our agriculture businesses,” she said.
Through Stanwood legal and volunteer work, she has substantial experience in dealing with complex social and financial systems. “I can bring that experience to bear on policy choices and in evaluating suggestions and recommendations from city staff,” she said. “I did legal work on construction of several multi-use, residential, high-rise projects that helped revitalize downtown areas of cities in California. I am pleased that the Mayor and Council are moving ahead to revitalize our Downtown, and I want Escondido to consider multi-use, residential projects because they are successful in generating foot traffic for businesses and providing attractive living space for residents.”
Stanwood’s Campaign Platform
- Increase the availability of attractive apartments and affordable housing in our city center through multi-use projects that would also help Escondido attract good restaurants, retail, and services for Downtown residents.
- Decrease the urban sprawl that we have seen under previous city governments that threatens our open space and creates dangerous traffic conditions.
- Improve city services and facilities and work toward better availability of those services and facilities to all the people of Escondido. “I would support using all the available state and federal funding, private funding, and donations to improve our parks, library system, recreational facilities and cultural programming. This is a way to make Escondido even more popular with young families who need an affordable, attractive place to live without increasing costs for our residents.”
- Support existing green projects and develop proposals for new environmental projects that will help Escondido fight the threat of drought and wildfires through water conservation, reduction of greenhouse emissions and development of housing projects in downtown Escondido which are far less susceptible to wildfire danger than single-family home developments in rural areas.
Regarding city expenditures, Stanwood agrees with Morasco that the City Council needs to be responsible in its expenditures, but she notes a difference. “I do not agree that this requires the City Council to cut-back or even fail to expand City services that are important to the quality of life for Escondido residents and the attractiveness of our city to businesses,” she said. “I would spend my time and energy looking for innovative ways to finance the expansion of city services without increasing the fiscal burden on our residents. While a balanced budget is important, so are libraries, parks, recreations facilities,, and cultural programming. It isn’t an ‘either/or’ proposition; we can have both a balanced budget and excellent city services.”
Stanwood has lived in Escondido’s 4th District for 13 years. She is an attorney with a wealth of professional and volunteer experiences worldwide. Married to Robert, an entrepreneur, for 35 years, she has three children, including two sons who served in the Navy and a daughter who is a local chef, and five grandchildren. They chose to move to Escondido for its open spaces and diversity.
After growing up in Long Beach, Stanwood attended Wheaton College and Dominican University in Illinois, where she received a B.A. in English and Philosophy. She earned her J.D. cum laude from Northwestern University. When her husband accepted a Fullbright Fellowship to Kyoto University, they moved to Japan, living in Kyoto and later in Tokyo for five years. In 1998 they moved to Bangkok, Thailand in connection with her husband’s business and spent five years there. They then decided to settle in San Diego County.
Over her distinguished career, Stanwood has accomplished an impressive résumé.
- In Japan, she worked for the Kyoto Comparative Law Center, teaching American law to the legal department of a Japanese electronics company. In Tokyo she worked as a foreign law attorney specializing in international finance. Working as a woman lawyer in Japan, she says, was a challenge.
- At UCLA Las School, she taught trial advocacy, legal research and writing. She then practices litigation with an emphasis in real estate and construction law at Hughes Hubbard and Reed in Los Angeles. In the early 90s she became General Counsel to Hazama USA Corporation, one of the 10 largest Japanese construction companies.
- Back in San Diego, Stanwood worked in the real estate finance practice group of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitmann, an international law firm. There she worked on several multi-use, residential projects. One particular client has build award-winning, attractive, green, affordable housing projects (they even received LEED certification, some eve at the platinum and gold level) in San Diego county.
- In Thailand, Stanwood volunteered as a member of the Board for the New International School of Thailand, where her children attended. She was then elected to the school board and was ultimately elected President. She was able to use her considerable expertise in construction bidding and contracting as the school began a complete reconstruction of its aging campus.
- She also volunteered with the Progressive Farmer Association located in a rural area of Thailand. her group helped break an impoverishing cycle by setting up a co-op to purchase the farmers’ rice crops at harvest and resell those crops when rice prices increased later. The co-op would then distribute the profits to the farmers so they could purchase seen for their next crop without a seed load. The Association also set up a water buffalo breeding program that provided farmers with the animals necessary to plow their fields.
- During her Association work she developed her philosophy that the most effective solutions to difficult societal problems are the local solutions. One major environmental problem in Thailand is deforestation, with farmers cutting down tress for fuel for cooking and heating. The Association started a program raising rubber tress splings and giving them to the farmers to plant in the deforested areas. Because the farmers could get money for latex tapped from the trees, the farmers would not cut down the trees to burn the wood.
- In Long Beach she volunteered as the attorney for the Long Beach District of the United Methodist Church. she advised churches on personnel issues, real estate transfer and acquisitions, taxes, regulatory matters, and helping with their program for feeding the homeless.
- In the San Diego area she helped her church resolve a property dispute with the City of San Diego that required extensive negotiations with city staff and presentations to the City Council. The problem was ultimately resolved with a property swap that satisfied both the church and the city, and Stanwood received an award from the church.