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Tuesday November 8, 2022 — California General Election

City of Imperial BeachCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Shirley Nakawatase

Shirley Nakawatase

Certified Public Accountant
2,341 votes (38.3%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Maintain public infrastructure, through maintenance of roads, clean parks and beaches.
  • Ensure public safety services and grow quality community resources.
  • Develop local economic opportunities and promote fiscal responsibility.



Profession:Certified Public Accountant & Trainer
CPA Consultant & Trainer, HNK CPA's (1990–current)
Treasurer, San Diego County Capital Asset Leasing Corporation — Appointed position (2018–current)
Chair, San Diego Regional Center — Elected position (2020–2022)
Board Member, San Diego Regional Center — Elected position (2010–2019)
Chair, Design Review Board - City of Imperial Beach — Appointed position (1991–2015)


San Diego State University Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Accounting (1983)

Community Activities

President & Member, Imperial Beach Kiwanis (1991–current)
Life Long Member/ Troop Leader, Girl Scouts of America (1967–current)
Founder and Co-Chair, Sun and Sea Festival (2014–2021)
Lieutenant Governor, Division 11 - Kiwanis (2011–2012)
President, Imperial Beach Boys & Girls Club (1994–1995)


Shirley is a longtime resident of Imperial Beach, first arriving in 1963 when her father was stationed here at North Island. She went to Westview Elementary, Mar Vista Middle School and then Mar Vista High, where she was active in cross age teaching, drama, music and was a founding member of the NJROTC unit. She raised her daughter, Mariko Nakawatase here in Imperial Beach and married another native, Leon Benham. The couple live in their home near the Tijuana Estuary with their small flock of chickens and a beautiful community garden tended by community members and family. The garden project is a place where people can come together, plant, socialize, and do good things. They welcome the community to come by and visit any day.

She joined the local Girl Scouts in 1967 and later became a lifetime Girl Scout in 2004 when she became a troop leader. For the next 12 years she volunteered her time and energy to her troop including organizing yearly trips to expand the horizons of her scouts through new experiences such as cruises, international excursions, and historical landmarks.

She is a past president of the Imperial Beach Boys & Girls Club, a youth development agency ensuring that the young people in our community have access to services dedicated to their mental, moral, and physical development during critical periods of growth and leadership development. With a special interest in meeting the needs of low-income community members, the program offers arts and crafts, counseling programs, and homework help programs. Shirley’s commitment to the children of her community has driven her to champion for their safety and protection in Imperial Beach.

Alongside this, since 1991 Shirley has been a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club, which is a global organization of local volunteers working to improve the world, “one child and one community at a time”.

Shirley is the Immediate Past Chair for the San Diego Regional Center and works to connect people with disabilities and their families to resources that aid them in living a more fulfilling and independent life. The Regional Center works in collaboration with the community to identify everyone’s needs and works to develop new ideas and services in order to reflect the unique cultural and ethnic diversity.

In 1990, she started her successful CPA business in Imperial Beach which continues to support many locals, businesses, and organizations to this day. Her work connects her to the community in another aspect that allows her to support her neighbors and her town. Boasting a 5-star rating on Yelp, many reviewers note Shirley’s trustworthiness, attention to detail, and professionalism as to why they are long-term or plan to be returning customers.

Shirley was appointed to the Design Review Board by Mayor Mike Bixler in 1991 where she served until just a few years ago. The Board is charged with the review of certain proposed development projects to determine whether the proposed development conforms with the policies of the City’s General Plan, Certified Local Coastal Program, Zoning Standards and Design Review Criteria.

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (4)

  • San Diego Republican Party
  • San Diego Lincoln Club
  • Southern California Rental Housing Association
  • California Republican Party

Elected Officials (2)

  • Former County Supervisor Greg Cox
  • Former Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

As a 50+ year resident and business owner in Imperial Beach. I’ve lived in Imperial Beach, worked in Imperial Beach and raised my family in Imperial Beach. Now I want to help lead Imperial Beach to be its brightest and best. I hope you will join me as we move into our future together. My overall campaign focus is improving the lives of Imperial Beach residents, through the improvement of our infrastructure, public safety, and economic development. Coming together we can achieve new goals that will give us the city we truly deserve. I look forward to representing every part of Imperial Beach and coming together as neighbors.

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