On June 8, Chula Vista will go to the polls to elect a mayor, two city councilmembers, and for the first time since voters passed a 2008 ballot measure, a city attorney. And while the mayoral race between incumbent Cheryl Cox and councilmember Steve Castaneda has had it's fair share of heated moments, it's the city attorney race that has generated the most political heat.
What started with four attorneys on the ballot has now been skimmed down to two; Chula Vista resident and former assistant city attorney Glen Googins and Lakeside resident Robert Faigin, who serves as chief legal advisor to the San Diego County Sheriff.
On Faigin's website, selecting a tab entitled "Meet My Opponent" brings up a page with a picture of the definition of malpractice on it.
Scrolling down, there are four bullet points. The first, dated 2000, cites Googins advice to enter into an "exclusive negotiating agreement" with William Tuchscher, owner of Tuchscher Development Enterprise. The next bullet point describes a settlement between the city and Tuchscher, where the city paid $850,000 for a contract violation. The third bullet point targets Googins’s resignation from his position as assistant city attorney and details the $175,000 severance that the city paid to "make [Googins] go away." The headline for final bullet point is, "Glen Googins Is Sued for Malpractice."
In an email to this correspondent, Googins returned fire: "My opponent's campaign has been based upon misleading statements and innuendo regarding my record. He clearly wants to focus on such things rather than our respective qualifications."
After touting his 22 years of practicing law in both public and private sectors and citing his work in the communities of Chula Vista and for nonprofits during the past 18 years, Googins responded to some of Faigin's bullet points.
On the issue of his resignation from the position of assistant city attorney, Googins wrote that he resigned due to disagreements "over issues related to administration of the office."
"People can certainly disagree with the City's policy and approach to paying severance to me or others. But it is no basis to disqualify me from being city attorney."
In response to claims that he cost the city $850,000 in 2002, Googins added that the settlement paid to Tuchscher did not result from poor legal representation or advice.
"All we know about [Faigin] are things he says about himself and how he is conducting his campaign," wrote Googins. "Using false statements and innuendo to advocate your position is hardly the stuff of a good city attorney."
During a May 8 phone interview, Faigin addressed the accusations made by his opponent about his campaign. "The misinformation is coming from him. I didn't make any of this up. I didn't personalize it. I didn't edit it. I didn't do anything but post it."
"It's a deflection," added Faigin. "I don't deal in rumor and I don't deal in innuendo, I just released the facts."