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After 4-Year Absence, Mike Cordero Seeks to Return to Santa Maria City Council

Retired police lieutenant served on council from 2008 to 2012 before unsuccessful campaign for mayor

Mike Cordero, a retired police lieutenant and former Santa Maria city councilman, hopes to return to the council by winning one of two seats contested by six candidates in the Nov. 8 election. Cordero has been campaigning with his dog, Allie. Click to view larger
Mike Cordero, a retired police lieutenant and former Santa Maria city councilman, hopes to return to the council by winning one of two seats contested by six candidates in the Nov. 8 election. Cordero has been campaigning with his dog, Allie. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A retired police lieutenant who spent four years on the Santa Maria City Council says his previous tenure spurred him to run again.

Mike Cordero, 67, served on the council from 2008 to 2012.

“I had a great time,” he told Noozhawk. “I had a real good time. It was a whole different set of muscles that we use on the City Council.”

Cordero is among six candidates seeking one of two council seats up for grabs in the Nov. 8 election. The others are incumbent Terri Zuniga; businessmen John Childers Jr., Ed Hernandez and Hector Sanchez; and Dr. Michael Moats, a dermatologist.

As someone whose job was funded by taxpayers, Cordero said he believes it’s important to pay back through community service.

“I honestly feel like I have a debt to pay to some degree, and I like the work,” he said, adding he remains an active volunteer with various organizations.

Serving on the council — and having a say in the future of the city — is rewarding, he said, citing the example of making sure land uses are compatible.

Safety and the economy are two top issues facing the city, he added.

As a police officer, Cordero recalled arresting three generations of one family with gang involvement.

“If you really want to attack the problem you have to take a look at it from a culture standpoint and how do you get to the families,” he said. “You’re not going to solve the gang problem by arresting your way out of it.”

However, he added, arrests are necessary sometimes.

Cordero said Santa Maria needs to market itself to become a destination, instead of its current status as an “overflow” community — a term he said he dislikes — where people come to Santa Maria hotels because other cities’ hospitality options are full.

“I say we need to get the right people in a room some place and figure out how to turn Santa Maria into a destination place,” he said.

“I don’t know what that special something is but you’ve got to get the right stakeholders in the right room to try to develop that kind of idea.”

It could take several days to create the idea, he said.

“But every day you don’t have the plan is a day longer that it’s going to take to get it,” he added.

“What the answer to that is I don’t think anyone really knows, but I also don’t think anybody’s talking about it.”

Decades ago Santa Maria once had a racetrack, near the Santa Maria Airport, which made the city a destination. Cordero thinks such a facility could attract more people.

“I don’t think we do near enough to accentuate the wines that we have in the area,” he explained in suggesting that the local wine industry could use more promotion.

Cordero was on the City Council when Measure U, the quarter-cent sales tax, was approved by Santa Maria voters in 2012 to pay for public safety.

In 2014, he spearheaded efforts to get voter approval of Measure T, the Santa Maria-Bonita School District bond to raise money for the upgrades to schools and to build a new campus.

A Santa Barbara native, Cordero graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1967.

He attended Allan Hancock College police academy — Cordero was in class number 11 — before going to work for the police force in Carpinteria, which has since contracted with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department for law-enforcement services.

He later moved to the Santa Maria Police Department, rising through the ranks to become lieutenant before retiring after 36 years.

When his first term expired, Cordero sought the job of mayor but lost.

He and his wife, Linda, a member of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board, have three grown sons and three grandchildren.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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