East County Chamber of Commerce announces endorsements for countywide offices for June 5 election

The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce has announced its endorsement of two candidates for countywide elected offices for the June 5 election, including Summer Stephan for San Diego County district attorney and Ernie Dronenburg for San Diego County assessor-recorder-clerk.

Eric Lund, Chamber president/CEO, said the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee recommended the two endorsements to the Chamber’s board of directors, which then ratified the recommendation.

“The Chamber’s vision is to provide leadership to improve business competitiveness, and we feel these two candidates fulfill our criteria,” said Lund. “We believe that Summer Stephan is eminently qualified and has the leadership and integrity to run the DA’s office. Based on her proven track record and her impeccable character, we believe that Summer is the best choice for district attorney. In addition, we also believe the Ernie Dronenburg is far and away the superior choice for the assessor’s office. Ernie has the knowledge to understand the technical nature of property taxes to protect homeowners, and he embodies fiscal responsibility as a true taxpayer advocate. Plus, he is the only candidate with a valid appraiser’s certificate as required under state law to legally hold the office.”

Stephan, a career prosecutor, has served as the appointed district attorney since July 2017, following the retirement of Bonnie Dumanis, who served as district attorney for almost 15 years. Stephan is only the second woman to serve in the position. She has served as a deputy district attorney in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for 27 years holding positions such as assistant chief, chief of the North County Branch and chief of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division. She was appointed chief deputy district attorney in 2012. As a trial prosecutor, she has tried over 100 jury trials involving sexual assaults or homicides, human trafficking, child abuse or molestation and school shootings. She received her bachelor’s  degree from the University of California at Davis and her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

The Office of the District Attorney prosecutes felony crimes countywide and misdemeanor crimes in 18 cities and the unincorporated areas. The District Attorney also assists victims and survivors of crime, protects families and children by making communities safer and protects the taxpayer by investigating and prosecuting consumer and insurance fraud.

Dronenburg is seeking reelection for a third term to the nonpartisan office. He was first elected to the office in 2010 and re-elected in June 2014, when he received 59 percent of the vote, resulting in no runoff election that year. Dronenburg’s track record includes lowering property values, which provided tax relief to hundreds of thousands homeowners so they could remain in their homes. Soon after taking office in 2010, Dronenburg reduced property taxes on more than 310,000 properties in San Diego County. At the time, the housing market was still reeling from impact of the economic recession and many homeowners had lost value in their homes.

Dronenburg also is known for implementing technology innovations to his department to allow more online forms transactions. San Diego was the state’s first county to implement a document e-recordings system with secure electronic signatures. A document digitalization program saves the printing of more than 650,000 pieces of paper annually. Also, the office under Dronenburg has improved customer service, receiving a 98.3 percent positive customer survey rating and a 4.5 stars out of 5 stars rating on YELP.

Prior to serving as the county’s Assessor/Recorder/Clerk, Dronenburg spent 20 years with the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), including five years as chairman. At the BOE, he authored the California Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights and implemented the original Prop. 13 regulations that limit property taxes to 1 percent of a property’s assessed value.Dronenburg grew up in San Diego and graduated from Crawford High School and received a bachel or’s degree in business administration from San Diego State University. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and has served on the boards of several community groups, including The Salvation Army and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The office of the County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk typically draws little public attention, however nearly every county resident who owns property or rents is affected by what happens there. As county assessor, Dronenburg oversees assessing the value of real estate and personal property, which in San Diego includes planes and boats. Property taxes constitute the largest share of revenue for the county. His work also involves registering business names and issuing marriage licenses, birth and death certificates. The office has a $71 million budget with 405 employees and five offices in San Diego County. Dronenburg said his department has returned an average of $3.2 million of his annual budget to the County general fund. His office is forecasting a return of more than $5 million in 2018.

The 650-member San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, based in El Cajon, is one of the largest business membership and advocacy groups in the region. The Chamber’s service areas include El Cajon, Lemon Grove, Rancho San Diego and Jamul. Its members also reside and work throughout San Diego city and county, including La Mesa, Santee and Lakeside. Its mission is to be the respected voice of and advocate for improving business opportunities, public policy and business relationships throughout San Diego County.

Author: Rick Griffin

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