BY NICK DIAMANTIDES
Edward Villanueva is running for a seat on the Signal Hill City Council. He hopes to unseat one of the three council incumbents who are running in Tuesday’s Signal Hill municipal election.
Villanueva earned a bachelor’s of science degree in productivity and quality management at California State University at Dominguez Hills. He is currently employed as a project manager for the Long Beach Public Works Department. “At work I ask, ‘What are we doing?’ ‘How are we doing it?’ and ‘Can we do it better?’” he said. “I streamline certain things and make sure the city is getting the most bang for its buck.”
He added that as councilman he would ask those same questions about how the City of Signal Hill operates and he would find ways to increase efficiency while reducing spending.
Villanueva is the secretary for the Friends of Signal Hill Cultural Arts, secretary for the Signal Hill Historical and Preservation Society and a member of Friends of Signal Hill Library. He is also a member of the Municipal Managers Association of Southern California and several other Long Beach-area organizations. “I look at running for city council as an extension of my community involvement and an extension of my public service,” he said. “For the City of Long Beach I work under the administration as a public servant. If I am elected to Signal Hill City Council, I will work as a public servant on the policy-creating side.”
He said he would draw from his expertise in project management and initiate innovative programs in Signal Hill. “It’s easy for the incumbents to list the things they participated in as their accomplishments,” he said. “I would ask them, ‘Did you come up with the idea and present it to the city and go out there and work to make it happen, or did you just sign your name to an idea that somebody else thought of and made happen?’”
He insisted that he would be a very different council member. “I will initiate programs,” he said. “I will use my expertise as a project manager to improve efficiency in the city.”
Villanueva stressed that, contrary to what the current council members are saying, they are not doing enough to help local businesses. “We need a new vision for the city’s role in nurturing the Chamber of Commerce so that we can work together to attract more businesses to Signal Hill,” he said.
He noted that Signal Hill has hired a public relations firm to market the city to businesses. “We need to somehow measure its effectiveness,” he noted. “Is it bringing more businesses to town?”
Villanueva said if he is elected he will work with the Chamber to produce a business directory with a laminated card entitling holders to discounts with businesses in the directory. “That would further push the concept that if you live in Signal Hill, you should shop and play here as well,” he said. “Obviously that would help existing businesses and attract new ones to our city.”
Villanueva added that he volunteers much of his time to organizations that work to make Signal Hill a better city. “I will continue to do those things,” he said. “As a council member, I am going to be very active and involved in the community and working very hard to make a difference here.”
Turning to the national economic recession and the state budget shortfall, Villanueva said it was hard to predict what would happen. “Hopefully, when the economic stimulus package comes through, more jobs will be created locally and more people will be able to refinance their homes,” he said. “Unfortunately recession is very cyclical. Businesses lay off, people spend less, which forces more businesses to lay off. The whole point of the stimulus package is to stop that cycle.”
Villanueva warned that the city must do more to help residents and business owners survive the recession. “Signal Hill is not doing a very good job of helping residents plug into the available state and county resources that can help get them through these tough times,” he said. “The city also needs to vastly improve the communication between City Hall and businesses to find ways to make the city more business friendly and more attractive to shoppers. “
Villanueva said that, like the incumbents, he has many political connections. “I have relationships with federal and state legislators and county officials, as well as mayors and city council members all over Southern California,” he said.
He added that he would bring a holistic approach to solving the city’s problems. “I want to make sure that we have a long-range plan and are making decisions that will best benefit the community down the road,” he said. “I want to leverage my municipal experience toward strengthening our finances and improving our environment.”