ENDORSEMENT: CV Needs an Uncorrupted City Attorney

Voters in Chula Vista are shopping for a new elected City Attorney to best represent them in reviewing development projects, negotiating concession deals, and monitoring fair campaigns that follow the City’s elections laws. 

The previously elected City Attorney candidate passed away just two months before posthumously winning the November 2022 election and forcing a special election to fill the vacancy. 

The Primary Election on March 5th is also a Special Election to fill the year-long vacancy that has left the County’s second-largest City relying on outside lawyers who are not accountable to voters. 

Of the two candidates, La Prensa San Diego endorsed Bart Miesfeld over Marco Verdugo for two important reasons: Miesfeld has over 20 years of experience representing CV residents within the City Attorney’s office, and Verdugo sought and used the endorsement of an indicted Councilwoman that now creates a conflict-of-interest for Verdugo to investigate. 

Miesfeld held the position of Chula Vista City Attorney before the position became an elected post in 2010. While representing Chula Vista’s best interests, Miesfeld successfully defended the City in a $600 million lawsuit filed by the private developers of the 125 tollroad. 

His hands-on experience and solid legal advice has led six Chula Vista Mayors to endorse Miesfeld; from Democrats Mary Salas and Steve Padilla, to independent Shirley Horton and Republicans Greg Cox, Cheryl Cox, and current Mayor John McCann. 

Those six politicians don’t seem to agree on much but they unanimously agree that Miesfeld is the kind of lawyer Chula Vista needs to shepherd the biggest investment in the City’s history: The Bayfront Marina development already underway. 

Verdugo, on the other hand, has only worked in the Chula Vista City Attorney’s office as a law school intern and has since represented San Diego, Coronado, and other cities as a private attorney. 

But our biggest concern with Verdugo is not just guilt by association because he courted the endorsement of Andrea Cardenas who is now under felony indictment along with her brother, Jesus Cardenas, but because Verdugo did not think that her previous use of campaign debt to win her 2020 election raised issues under the City’s campaign laws he would have to enforce as City Attorney. 

Councilwoman Cardenas ended her 2020 election owing more for unpaid campaign mailers than her opponent spent in his entire campaign. She did not make any effort to raise money to pay down that debt until after La Prensa San Diego reported her campaign cheating scheme. 

La Prensa San Diego later uncovered a wide-ranging scheme run by Jesus Cardenas who led several other campaigns, including some run by the Democratic Party, that all benefited from over 500,000 pieces of unpaid campaign mailers. 

In the November 2023 Special Election, Verdugo listed Councilman Andrea Cardenas as an endorsement, just two weeks before she and Jesus were indicted on 12 felony counts for allegedly obtaining a fraudulently COVID-era federal loan. 

The District Attorney’s indictment shows Councilwoman Cardenas used part of the money they pilfered from the federal government to repay her outstanding campaign debts.

Verdugo now claims he will champion election law reforms to end corruption -including the use of debt like Cardenas- but he never mentioned that priority before Cardenas was indicted even though her acts were well-documented in the media.

But if Verdugo were to be elected City Attorney, one of his first official acts would have to be to recuse himself from investigating Cardenas, one of his biggest supporters, but also one of Chula Vista’s worst examples of campaign violations. 

Chula Vista needs a City Attorney who can get to work on Day One and deal with the important issues facing our City; from approving development projects and steering clear of unnecessary lawsuits, to reinforcing our elections laws to end corruption and cheating. 

Residents need a City Attorney who is not connected to anyone already indicted and under investigation so that he can openly and honestly address the weaknesses of the City’s campaign finance rules. 

Bart Miesfeld is the right choice right now for Chula Vista City Attorney and we encourage voters to support him in the March 5th Election.

-CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Verdugo was hired as an intern by Miesfeld, but, instead, it was Glen Googins who hired him as a law school intern. The story has been corrected.

Bart Miesfeld