CARLSBAD — The first announcements for the 2020 City Council election are here.
On April 28, longtime Carlsbad resident Phil Urbina formally announced his candidacy for the District 4 seat on the Carlsbad City Council.
Also, incumbent Keith Blackburn has declared his intention to run in District 2, while Councilwoman Cori Schumacher has declared to run again for mayor in 2022.
In 2020, it will be the first time residents in Districts 2 and 4 will elect their own representatives. Blackburn and Schumacher are currently sitting at-large representatives after winning in 2016.
Phil Urbina was surrounded by nearly 40 friends, family and other supporters, including former Councilman Mark Packard, at Stagecoach Park to detail why he is jumping in.
One reason, he said, is the area bordering Encinitas, which some refer to as Carnitas (a combination of Carlsbad and Encinitas) suffers from a bit of a disconnect with much of Carlsbad.
As such, he wants to be the bridge to bring not only representation, but more of a spotlight to the concerns of residents in District 4. He noted the city spends three times as much money in District 1 than in District 4, another concern; although he said many of those issues in District 1 are needed.
“We felt I was needed and that I was the right person for the job,” Phil Urbina said, “and that I could represent south Carlsbad well. I have been doing that for years … in so many different areas. I hope to be a bridge.”
And if it seems early to announce a candidacy for the 2020 election, Phil Urbina agrees. However, he said it is an opportunity to start connecting with residents in District 4 and get a head start on the campaign.
As for the disconnect, Phil Urbina said part of it is geographical. Different water and school districts have pushed those residents more toward Encinitas or, in some cases, San Marcos.
“It’s a cultural thing,” he explained. “There just seems to be this disconnect and I don’t have any fantasy that I can solve it. But maybe I can pull people together a little bit better.”
His wife, Kathy, whom he married 24 years ago and has two kids with, said her husband is the embodiment of the city, especially as someone who has been involved at a grassroots level for so long.
“I can’t think of anyone else to serve south Carlsbad,” Kathy Urbina said. “Phil knows District 4.”
Yvonne Finnachario, who is assisting Phil Urbina’s campaign launch, said he is the right person for the job. Other speakers noted his ability to “get things done,” attention to detail and willingness to take on tough situations.
One of those came several years ago when the La Costa Youth Organization discovered it had been fleeced by about $200,000 by a vendor. As president of LCYO, Phil Urbina took charge and was able to keep the league afloat until the vendor repaid the stolen money.
Those who spoke also echoed Finnachario’s thoughts, noting that Phil Urbina is reliable, trustworthy, attention to detail and acts in the best interests of those organizations he serves.
“Phil’s going to know exactly what is voting on,” John O’Reilly said. “He is going to be a great city councilman.”
In addition, he said his decision is also part of who he is, a longtime volunteer with numerous nonprofits such as the Knights of Columbus, Hi-Noon Rotary Club, the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad, the La Costa Youth Organization, Carlsbad Christmas Bureau, Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, City of Carlsbad Sister City Committee and Carlsbad Lightning Soccer Club.
His volunteer work has also included acting as chairman or board president of six of the organizations.
Originally from the Bay Area, Phil Urbina moved to Corona as a child and he attended the University of Redlands, falling short of his degree by two classes, which he said is his biggest regret.
His career started as the sports editor for the Coast Dispatch newspaper and managing editor for the Carlsbad Journal before moving on to positions with broadcasting companies Daniels, Adelphia and Time Warner.
Phil Urbina and his wife started a business, Cousin’s Signs, nine years ago before selling. He now does online behavior assessments to help companies hire and manage employees, along with training for the Service Leadership Institute and Carlsbad Student Leadership Academy.
“People down here don’t go to a lot of City Council meetings unless there is a real big reason for it,” Phil Urbina said. “Talking to some people down here, they don’t realize we’ve gone to districts because they don’t follow city politics.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.