CARLSBAD — A new face has emerged in the lead up to this year’s City Council elections.
Priya Bhat-Patel, 30, filed her paperwork with the city clerk in January and is the only person running for the District 3 seat. She will host her campaign launch party on March 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Alga Norte Park and is encouraging residents to visit and speak with her about the issues.
Incumbent Michael Schumacher told The Coast News he will not seek re-election so he can spend time with his children before they graduate high school.
As a result, Bhat-Patel is the only candidate in District 3 who has filed papers with the city declaring her candidacy.
Bhat-Patel is a newcomer to local politics and has spent most of her life in Carlsbad, attending local public schools and is a first generation American (she is of Indian decent). She is a public health consultant (currently working on doctorate), but joined the race with growing concerns over the city losing its small-town charm and feel.
“Lately, it seems that we are giving up parts of our amazing quality of life to developers for unneeded and unwanted projects,” she said. “It doesn’t take a lifelong politician to know that Carlsbad residents’ voices are not being heard and that they deserve to voice their opinions.”
This year marks the first time in the city’s history candidates will run in assigned districts. In the past, City Council elections were at-large candidates, where every resident could vote for a specified number depending on the cycle.
District 3 covers much of the Poinsettia, Aviara and La Costa neighborhoods, along with some coastal coverage. But now, without a clear cut opponent, Bhat-Patel has the opportunity to pick up steam heading into the spring and summer.
One goal she has is to connect with residents, noting she is pro-growth, but not at the expense of city’s beauty.
“I believe the district design makes elected officials even more accountable to the citizens of Carlsbad, which I support,” she explained. “This means I can help people on a much more granular level and can listen to their needs and respond better. Nonetheless, regardless of the districts, we are one Carlsbad and I will do what is best for the residents of District 3 and the city at large.”
As for the issues and challenges, Bhat-Patel said she is not running based off any ideology or causes, expect for focusing on the community, health and transparency. Her focus is on uniting the city and giving back to the city “that has given me so much.”
However, she is concerned the council is focused on short-term financial goals, noting the controversial Measure A.
“The City Council aligned with developers instead of listening to residents, by attempting to adopt the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Specific Plan without making it a ballot entry,” Bhat-Patel said. “Citizens requested the right to vote, and as we know Measure A was not passed. Since Measure A, the residents of Carlsbad are concerned that the City Council will do what is best financially short-term, without weighing the concern of the people who would like to maintain overall quality of life.”