For John Duncan–who’s running for Coronado City Council–it was all a dream.
In 2006, before he lived here full-time, Duncan rented a historic home on the island with his wife and four children. He recalls having the “best time” on the beach with his kids. A self-professed night owl, he remembers locking up the house for the night and standing in the kitchen, thinking to himself.
“I said to myself, if one day I could live in a house like this in Coronado, and raise my children here, my dreams would come true,” says Duncan.
Two years later he bought that exact same house, and twelve years later, he still lives in it with his family. (In fact, Duncan has evidenced his passion for Coronado over the last decade by renovating at-risk homes in Coronado back to their former glory and having them designated as Historic Resources to preserve Coronado’s charm and history.)
His dreams have come true, but Duncan’s also dreaming big for the future of Coronado. He hopes to win a seat on the Coronado City Council, bringing a fresh and professional level of scrutiny when it’s needed the most.
“Coronado is facing issues that are critical to our future, including the potential loss of local control to outside governing bodies,” says Duncan. “As an experienced business attorney of 25 years, I am a seasoned negotiator with strong analytical and litigation skills.”
Duncan, who graduated from USC with a degree in political science, went on to study law at University of San Diego, where he graduated in 1995. A life-long learner, he also studied at Oxford and Yale.
The main priority for Duncan, if he were to win a seat on city council, is to fight against attempts take local control away from Coronado by outside agencies.
“Specifically, we must fight SANDAG’s unreasonable 1000 new housing unit allocation on Coronado’s already dense community,” says Duncan. “In regards to this issue, I support litigation over the unfair allocation, which does not properly give credit to Coronado for Navy housing on its base, yet penalizes Coronado for the Navy jobs on base.”
Duncan also believes we must carefully navigate the upcoming planned acquisition of local control of Coronado’s major streets to resolve traffic congestion and improve safety.
“I will do so, while looking for ways to improve Orange Avenue corridor opportunities for small business and citizens,” says Duncan.
He also believes in the fight to keep Coronado beaches safe from sewage and environmental contamination.
“I will support maintaining diplomatic pressure on all parties to ensure the EPA moves forward with the implementation of the projects funded by the 300 million dollars allocated to stop the flows in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA),” says Duncan.
When it comes to the pandemic, Duncan says it’s clear the citizens of Coronado desire more enforcement of the city’s ordinances, and that frequent police presence would be beneficial to the citizens as well as the local businesses.
“Police foot patrols allow for less confrontational relationship-building between citizens, business owners and offices than when a patrol car suddenly pulls up,” says Duncan. “Further, the city, as other communities have done, may want to consider hiring ‘street ambassadors’ in the business district for heavy tourist times to provide reminders of no smoking, no biking on the sidewalks, free masks, etc.”
Balancing tourism and the quaint charm of the island lifestyle is another serious challenge. While tourism is extremely important to Coronado, as a council member, Duncan says he would be an advocate for finding ways to reduce the negative impact of tourists.
“There are many things that can be done, such as ramping up city services during high impact tourist times, including additional trash service in the business district and on the beach, as well as additional police foot and bike patrols.”
When it comes to diversity in Coronado’s staff, residents, and police, Duncan doesn’t mince words.
“I strongly believe that racism in any form is intolerable and I am glad it is being discussed more now,” says Duncan. “I believe people asking for change are well-intended and I do believe that there have been incidents of racism as shared in stories by local school children.”
Duncan advocates legal ways of increasing diversity which include hiring by recruiting from additional areas where there are more minority candidates, and hiring great people without sacrificing quality and professionalism. He says he is concerned about the emotional and mental stress placed on our children from racism and bullying, and believes the schools and city should look for ways to help in this area.
What does Duncan have to say about running a bi-partisan campaign? According to the San Diego Republican’s website, he has sought and received the Republican party endorsement, which doesn’t sit well with some members of the community. He says that the Democratic Party of San Diego and the Republican Party of San Diego have different standards for listing candidates on their online voting guides and endorsements.
When running for city council, all candidates must consider whether to seek an endorsement party early on, says Duncan. But the issue is very different depending on your political party. If the candidate is a Democrat, and running for city council, they are not required to seek the endorsement of the Democratic party to be on the Democratic Online Voter’s Guide. However, if the candidate is a Republican, the Republican Party of San Diego will not put you on their voting guide unless you seek the official endorsement.
“Thus, if you are a Republican, if you do not seek an endorsement, you will not be on a voter’s guide, but your Democrat opponents will be on a voter’s guide, even if they do not ask for the endorsement,” says Duncan. “That being said…being endorsed is very different than running a partisan campaign or serving on council and pushing partisan issues. Fortunately, 99.9 percent, if not all the issues that city council deals with have nothing to do with partisan issues.”
When he’s not working or campaigning, Duncan is spending time with his wife, Peggy, and their four children. He says they enjoy hanging out at the beach, going for bike rides, and on long family walks.
“Despite the stress and concerns we all face these days, those activities always bring a sense of peace and happiness to us,” says Duncan. “I also enjoy talking with the various neighbors and people I meet around town.”
Duncan says he’s proud to be (he believes) the only city council member who has school-age children.
“It’s important to me that families in Coronado have a representative who is willing to be a voice for the protection of youth activities in Coronado, including youth athletics and recreational services,” says Duncan. “Families and school age children are essential to the fabric of Coronado and without them, Coronado would lose a vital part of its character.”
Duncan says that the best thing about Coronado is the people.
“Coronado is full of wonderful people, and the best thing about running for office by far has been the opportunity to connect with more people and learn their stories…everyone has a story to tell about Coronado, and there is much to learn if people take the time to listen.”
“Running for council is not about ego, power, nor compensation,” says Duncan. “I am not running to help my career, any other outside interests, or to seek higher office. I am running solely to provide assistance to the community. I am a strong listener and I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong…it’s not about me, it’s about Coronado.”