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Santee Newbie Question One: Who's In-Charge?

A city without term limits combined with deeply loyal residents, has made for one long mayoral gig for a man that seems to be loved by his people and embodies the Santee spirit- Mayor Voepel.

By Jeni Reynolds

Deciding where to start a survival guide can be tough!!!  So many things to see, places to go, reviews to share – but I figured the best way to start this guide is at the top! Who's in-charge of this place anyways?  This is also a great place to start since it coincides with one of my first Santee discoveries!

This town !

Okay, before the comments begin.  I’m , what I’m saying is that the large vocal majority in this city love, follow and are completely loyal to our current mayor. To a point that surprised me when I first moved here.  See I’m a transplant from the big old city of San Diego, and although their current mayor is generally liked, he isn’t loved.  In fact, since San Diego city has term limits anyone can only love any Mayor so long; which isn’t the case for Santee. 

was elected to the Santee in November 1996 and elected Mayor in December 2000.  From the research I have done Mayor Voepel hasn’t had any political threats for a very long time, meaning he has been at the helm unopposed for over 11 years.

Why do Santee residents love their Mayor?  From my perspective I think it boils down to a few personal traits which he embodies that correlates directly to the Santee culture.

Santee is a very straight-forward no fuss city, and so is Mayor Voepel.  He is the kind of man seems to makes decisions , not politics.  You can get a sense of this from reading Santee Patch’s city council notes and other OpEd pieces in the Union Tribune.  Most recently, he declined an invitation to speak at a pretty high-visibility political event, stating in an email to the Santee Patch that, "[a]ny other Mayor would probably crawl over dead bodies to be on that stage, I on the other hand eschew this as being simply a 'show.’”  Then he went head to head with the , demanding that they recount our homeless population.  Seriously, he didn’t ask nicely or beat around the bush – he told them .

Santee residents love Santee, and so does Mayor Voepel.  A few months after I moved to the city, Mayor Voepel wrote this OpEd piece in the Union Tribune and after reading it I was in awe at how heartfelt he was, which made it clear to me that he really loves Santee.  He also took on the American Lung Association’s (ALA) recent they gave to our city calling it an “F for Freedom” as opposed to “failure” which is how the ALA meant it to read.  He doesn’t mince words when it comes to protecting his city and be warned any group that treads into our land and throws mud – what is returned to you might not smell as nice.

The majority of Santee residents are proud of their long history and ‘old-timer’ status, and so is Mayor Voepel.  Santee is a city that has gone through a lot of changes in the past eleven years; but at the core, underneath the fancy new , , and is an old soul with a lot of deep history.  Back in the day, to live here meant that you were living in a rough and wild patch of land among the rattle snakes.

Yet, through all the changes it seems that Mayor Voepel has been a constant.  For better or worse this retired U.S. Navy combat veteran in a large sense captures the and has given residents a sense of where they came from so we all know where we are going.

One final note, please notice, I did not talk politics.  I did not highlight his political victories or failures or his recent .  Politics aside, what I have seen is that regardless of his political clout he is loved because of who he is as a man, and seems to be re-elected because of his spirit.  Agree or disagree – this town loves their Mayor.

Next Edition: “Local Dive Bars: The Natives Don’t Bite!”

RESOURCE SECTION (weekly resources relevant to the topic discussed above, feel free to post additional resources that I missed in the comment section below)

Are you interested in getting more involved in Santee’s civic or political life?  Below are some links and details I discovered when I first moved here that might help get you started!

City Government

1.    Your local city council and mayor: http://www.ci.santee.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=351

2.    Want to serve on a Santee city Board, Commissions, and/or Committee?  Learn about each group and how they select their citizens-at-large position? http://www.ci.santee.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=16

3.    Check to see if there are any current vacancies: http://www.ci.santee.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=197

 Santee Sheriff Volunteer Opportunities - http://www.sdsheriff.net/volunteer_svp.html

Santee Chamber of Commerce - lists of events (after five mixer and sunrise Santee) that allow both members and non-members:  http://santeechamber.com/

Rancho Santee Lions Club - http://ranchosanteelionsclub.com/

Santee Kiwanis - http://santeekiwanis.org/

Santee-Lakeside Rotary Club - http://www.santee-lakesiderotary.org/

Santee-Lakeside Elks Club - http://www.elks.org/lodges/home.cfm?lodgenumber=2698

Santee Schools - http://santee.schoolwires.com/santee/site/default.asp

Other government and community links - http://www.ci.santee.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=180

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Hanifin June 23, 2011 at 04:00 AM
If this were Facebook, I would have clicked the "Like" button. :)
Jeni Reynolds June 23, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Thank you so much, Brian! I'm glad you enjoy my first article.
Joseph June 24, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Really great article. I moved here last year and was not aware of the great info about the Mayor. Keep it up!
Bill Howell June 26, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Nice job, Jen. Reflected a lot of good feelings. Randy can be a hand full at times, but I'd prefer that than a milquetoast who won't speak up.
Pat June 28, 2011 at 07:26 AM
The mayor may periodically make cringe-inducing statements, but his vision of the future of Santee is one I also share. I think he and the council have done a phenomenal job. Especially when you compare how other cities are run (look at the city of San Diego). Plus, he's always been there to answer any questions / concerns whenever I've made inquiries.
Doug Curlee June 28, 2011 at 08:15 PM
i once told randy that, if he ever again showed up in front of our camera with that "santee- the la jolla of east county" baseball cap on, I was gonna tileize his face like we often did suspects in court.. he took it in the spirit in which it was offered, good clean fun..and got a laugh out of it.. he's a good guy, a good mayor, and fun to cover..fun to have a drink with, too.. doug

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