By: Sabrina Spunt | Writer
20 September, 2019
Jackson Hinkle, 2018 San Clemente High School graduate, is running in the 2019 election for San Clemente city council. Hinkle also ran in the 2018 election alongside Jake Rybczyk, and was only three percentage points away from securing a spot on the city council. He is optimistic for this year’s election and hopes to be able to make a lasting impact on San Clemente. Read the following interview with Hinkle to gain a deeper insight on some aspects of his campaign and his goals as a San Clemente city council member.
- What motivated you to make the decision to run for City Council?
“When it comes to the issues that matter most to San Clemente residents, I have witnessed a lack of action amongst our local government in bringing about real solutions for our community. As the only candidate for City Council who was born and raised in San Clemente, I have a deep understanding of what it takes to preserve and protect our ‘Spanish village by the sea.’ I understand that residents do not want reckless overdevelopment in our beautiful beach town, and I will fight to ensure that outside interests never have a voice on Council.”
- What is the main issue you would want to address as a member on the City Council?
“I believe a hardworking council member should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. There are many crises facing the city of San Clemente at this very moment. I worry that the TCA is working harder than ever to build a toll road through the heart of our town- I will oppose all efforts to build a toll road and I will move to abolish the TCA immediately. I am incredibly concerned that the largest defacto nuclear waste storage site in the United States is currently sitting at San Onofre state beach with no solution in sight- I will support all efforts to remove that waste from our beach. I am deeply distraught about the growing issue of homelessness facing South Orange County- I will demand the County of Orange fund a regional solution to address the crisis they have created.
“In my eyes, serving on City Council should not be about prioritizing one issue over another- it should be about having a local government that represents the needs of residents and businesses throughout our community, rather than those of wealthy campaign contributors and developers who seek to divide our community and destroy our ways of life.”
- What has been a highlight of your campaign trail? As well as something that you have struggled with?
“The highlight of my campaign has been getting to know my supporters throughout the community. Everyday, I look forward to discussing the concerns of every individual in our town. Whether we meet at a downtown business, at a City Council meeting, out surfing, or on their front porch, having these important discussions is the only way we will succeed in bringing about real change.
“One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with on the campaign trail is ageism. If voters aren’t familiar with my background and the work I have done in an effort to improve our community, my age might be a concern to them. In fact, at a recent candidate debate, I was asked the question, ‘What have you done in the past two years to make our community a better place?’ While my fellow candidates offered no real response to the question when it was posed to them, I was proud to dive into the work I have done.
“I was a lead organizer in the 2017 “No Toll Road” protest and the ongoing effort to stop the toll road and
abolish the TCA; I was involved in the effort to get solar panels installed at all CUSD high schools, saving the government millions of dollars in energy costs; I spoke at Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings to advocate for the removal of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS); I toured SONGS on multiple occasions; I represented San Clemente on a national level briefing the United States Congress on the removal of nuclear waste from SONGS and on safety concerns at the plant; I spoke at nearly every SONGS Community Engagement Panel Meeting to demand accountability during decommissioning of SONGS; I regularly attend San Clemente City Council meetings to speak on local issues and advocate that no toll road be built through San Clemente and that the TCA be abolished; I wrote the San Clemente Government Transparency ordinance and led a movement to implement the ordinance in our local government; I served as a San Clemente delegate at the National Summit on Nuclear waste, where I worked to formulate an action plan to safely and ethically store southern California Edison’s radioactive waste off our coastline; I spoke at the San Clemente Coastal Advisory Committee meetings on behalf of, “Plastic Free San Clemente;” I co-founded the, “ South Orange County Community Choice Alliance” to find a path towards lower energy rates and a greener mix of energy for South OC; I led a campaign that reduced CUSD’s plastic consumption by 9,000 pounds annually-while simultaneously increasing the district’s lunch program revenue; and I also worked to demand the County of orange fund a South County regional solution to the homelessness crisis our community is currently facing.”
- How do you think running for the 2018 City Council election helped prepare you to run for the 2019 election?
“Finishing a mere three points away from winning my campaign for San Clemente City Council in 2018 was an eye-opening experience. It was an endeavor that taught me a lot about myself, and inspired many of the decisions I am making in my current campaign. It taught me that a successful campaign must be powered by a movement. It takes grassroots; people-powered effort to deliver yard signs to 1,000 voters, canvass 10,000 homes throughout our town; help organize dozens of candidate meet-and-greets. I am proud and honored to have a powerful movement fueling my campaign, as I know I couldn’t alone.
On a more personal level, I realize that I neglected myself throughout my last campaign. I went from getting out in nature, exercising multiple times a week, and making beautiful veggie dishes for myself most nights, to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans on my couch. We live in a culture where that kind of lifestyle is subtly celebrated as ‘working hard.’ But I will be the first to tell you it is not sustainable and makes your life harder in the long run.
I have now made it a priority to take the time to eat food that will serve my body well, exercise, set boundaries, listen to myself, practice self-compassion, set achievable goals, let go of what no longer serves me, and above all else: accept support.”
- Lastly, any advice for someone thinking about running for City Council in the future?
“Turn your passion into action. Since I was little, I have been passionate about protecting and preserving the ocean I surf, the mountains I hike, the slabs I boulder, and the plants and animals that inhabit all of these wonderful places. It is my passion to represent those who are underrepresented, those who have not been given an equal opportunity in life, or those who feel voiceless. I have a passion to protect the city I love from reckless overdevelopment, from the nation’s largest defacto nuclear waste dump, and from corruption in our local government. When action originates from a place of love, there is no stopping it. Lastly, I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention that there is no age requirement to create change.
Elected government officials all throughout the nation are widely failing to represent the needs of their constituents. This is ultimately what inspired me to run for office, but we can’t settle with this mindset. These emotions alone are complacent, but when paired with hope, they can drive a great deal of change and progress.”
The voting for the 2019 San Clemente City Council election will take place on November 5, 2019.