Interview with San Diego City Council District 3 Candidate Michelle Nguyen

Even though City Council is a nonpartisan position by law, what is your party affiliation? And why did you decline to state it on record before?

Being a female minority millennial service member in California, I already have plenty of labels—which is why I don’t like rigidly subscribing to any one political ideology. For label’s sake, I would say I am a moderate because I look at policy on a case-by-case basis. However, when it comes to party affiliation, I have gravitated towards a party that respects diversity of thought and really values freedom.

I was registered as a Libertarian in 2016, back when many voters had split opinions on the presidential election. After years of working in the corporate world and buying a house (therefore, paying taxes), I have paid more attention to where and how tax revenue is spent. Coupled with the extremely supportive leaders in the party, I am now proud to say that I am a Republican. It wasn’t until I stopped listening to the mainstream media and actually met other Republicans that I realized that the media are completely wrong about the GOP. I felt closeted to admit I am a Republican—believe it or not, I was told that I “don’t belong here [in District 3]—when people asked my party affiliation. There is such a thing as responsible compassion—it’s called being a good neighbor. And to those who screamed that I don’t belong, I forgive you.

Why have you started campaigning so late in the game?

I only decided to run in October and I had an obligation for military training overseas through November. By the time I came home, it was Thanksgiving. With the amazing support and encouragement from the leaders in the Republican Party of San Diego County, I was able to complete my paperwork for the nomination.

Why do you want to run for office?

I admit that I grew up in the era of No Child Left Behind and participation trophies. I [vaguely] remember 9/11 and the first black president of the United States being elected to office. My community was hit hard by the recession, but rebounded largely due to the hard work of Asian small business owners. By my senior year of college—the essential time where Army cadets choose their branch when they commission as officers—all occupations, including combat, were open to women in the military.

Needless to say, I grew up being told that I can do anything. Literally every systematic barrier has been broken down for me by the amazing activists and leaders of this country. Therefore, this is a social experiment to see if the “establishment” actually takes young people, women, minorities, and non-politicians as seriously as they say they do. I see room for improvement in local government and believe I can not only add value, but bring a new perspective to problem-solving.

Michelle has served in the U.S. National Guard

Why should District 3 vote for you?

I’m 25, therefore I’m too young to have deep ties with special interest groups. I will never say “this is the way we’ve always done it” because I’m not heavily influenced by old habits. I have a business and logistics background from the military and corporate world, so my brain is wired to literally solve problems with little to no resources. In addition to my ingenuity, I not only understand, but live by a strict code of conduct. In the role of City Councilwoman, that is the fiduciary duty to the taxpayers.

My experience in government contracting has seasoned me into a professional that is innovative in a space that is heavily regulated by federal, state, and local laws. I have the energy and fresh ideas to launch San Diego into a future that is prosperous and bright for people from all walks of life. I will be a steadfast steward for all San Diegans in District 3.

What is your platform?

My number one priority is an issue that I and residents of District 3 care about: parking. I believe that we need to address the fundamentals of survival, and to many, parking by your home or workplace is part of your basic need for shelter. The project to construct protected bike lanes is proposed at $279 million! To put that into perspective, the city dedicates around $100 million to finding solutions for homelessness.

There is nothing wrong with choosing alternative transportation. In fact, I applaud those that do, day-in and day-out. What’s wrong is mandating San Diegans out of their cars. The bike lanes serve less than one percent of San Diegans and will affect hundreds of thousands of residents and consumers traveling through North Park and Downtown. Groups like Save 30th Street Parking have been fighting tooth and nail to bring awareness to the egregious encroachment of these bike lanes. The loss of parking spots hurts the local economy because it will deter patrons with physical disabilities and parents with small children in strollers. The lost parking hurts residents with no parking garage or allotted parking spot.

Can you believe that when current Councilman Chris Ward was asked what residents without parking in unsafe neighborhoods should do, he said they should move? My goal is to keep San Diegans safe and comfortable in their own homes and neighborhoods and free to frequent their favorite business in a car—if that’s what they choose to do.

Because of my background in negotiating and managing multimillion-dollar contracts, I am dedicated to safeguarding taxpayer money. I believe I can do that by not taking away the needed programs for our infrastructure and homelessness, but reforming the way the city spends money. Firm-Fixed-Price awards to the lowest bidder for contractors has a high risk of a product or service being done with poor quality. My contracting background will look to utilize creative contract types like Cost-Plus-Incentive-Fee with favorable terms and conditions for both parties. I also believe we need to reform the way we manage projects—due diligence for a contractor is due diligence for the taxpayer.

Last, but not least, I want to take the homeless crisis seriously because it affects District 3 most of all in San Diego. We have to look at the root causes: drugs, mental illness, and housing. With drugs, we need to bring awareness to the fact that rehabilitation is not the same for each person or each drug! Methamphetamines, which is the latest drug trend on the West Coast, affects the reward receptors in the brain completely differently than other drugs like heroin and cocaine. We need to arm our law enforcement with the correct reversal drugs for overdoses and also educate families affected by drug addiction about the crucial timeline for treatment before long-term mental and physiological damage occurs.

Drug addiction and mental illness are not one-in-the-same. What frustrates me most about the conversation about either of these topics is the idea that mental illness can be cured by medication and a couple of counseling sessions. There is no quick fix program to get you off the street. Each individual needs a tailored treatment plan overseen by a physician along with love and support from friends and family to follow through with the plan. To help our homeless with both drug addiction and mental illness, we need to incentivize young doctors and healthcare professionals to take medical residency training in underserved communities and to stay there.

San Diego has a housing inventory crisis, as well. To spearhead that, there needs to be fewer regulations on building more homes. Free market competition in all cases decreases price and increases quality (think about how everyone, even homeless individuals, have cell phones). The tiny home on wheels was a great stepping stone that the City Council took last year, but that’s not enough. My vision is for more micro-apartments in good living conditions with parking.


To learn more about Michelle Nguyen and her campaign, you can visit her website.