Marni describes City Council experiences
By Jill Alexander
Sometimes, things you did when you were younger often come back around when you’re older.
For example, having served in the U.S. Peace Corps during the AIDS epidemic years ago helped District 5 San Diego City Councilmember Marni von Wilpert – a Scripps Ranch resident – prepare her for when she started her City Council term in December 2020.
“Unknowingly, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana in Africa helped me during COVID,” von Wilpert said. “I thought, ‘I have already been through a major public healthcare crisis,’ so when I got here and had to deal with COVID, I already knew how this worked and what we had to do. … I knew every level of government needs to be aligned and work together, so that helped me prepare when I first started.”
But that was then, and this is now.
“Now, I can go to City Hall in person, to premier events, see my constituents and work on things other than COVID – like our infrastructure and fixing our streets. It finally feels like it is true City Hall and City Council,” von Wilpert said. “The best part has been reconnecting with a lot of my old high school friends from Scripps Ranch, too.”
Serving as a former San Diego Deputy City Attorney has helped von Wilpert, 39, as a councilmember because she already knew a lot of department heads, and how the city worked, as well as the bureaucracy. But, “it is still different,” she said.
Growing up in SR
Growing up in Scripps Ranch and graduating from Scripps Ranch High School in 2002, von Wilpert was among students in the first class to do so. Today, von Wilpert still lives in Scripps Ranch and said this also helped her prepare for serving as a city councilmember.
“It’s been fantastic to be an actual homegrown city councilmember because I will get emails all the time from residents who say they went to high school with me, or ‘I’m so and so, and Marni went to high school with my daughter, tell her I said hi,’” von Wilpert said.
Having been raised in Scripps Ranch, von Wilpert adds she knows the district well which has helped her be a true advocate for the community.
For example, with wildfire concerns, if someone asks about whether they can put up a development here or there or new property, von Wilpert understands the geography versus people who have never lived in Scripps Ranch.
Since taking office, von Wilpert has had a few surprises along the way including witnessing how hard San Diego’s firefighters work.
“It was unexpected that I learned about them, and I never appreciated how hard they work for our community,” von Wilpert said. “I knew when you call 9-1-1, they come and put out fires and an ambulance comes, but I didn’t realize how much work they are doing for wildfire preparedness.”
She was also surprised by all the help that has been invested to make sure that wildlife response helicopters can immediately go to Lake Miramar and suck up thousands of gallons of water in a minute and respond to a canyon fire before it gets out of control.
Additionally, the firefighters have worked out a training system and an agreement with CalFire, the State and the federal government to make sure the firefighters can use the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar runways and air equipment if needed in the event of a wildfire.
“They do huge drills every year and come together to do wildfire simulations just in case we have to evacuate thousands of residents and get boots on the ground,” von Wilpert said. “That has been a surprise to me to see that they do so much work behind the scenes and to see that we are safe. I appreciate them so much and I am so impressed by how they are ready in case of an emergency for all of us.”