Dave Cowles first came to Vista in 1962 when his mother, Mary Cowles, began teaching at Santa Fe Elementary School. At that time, he was in college in Seattle, but spent summers in and around Vista with his family. He grew to appreciate the climate, lifestyle and nearby attractions in Vista and always hoped to be able to live here one day.

That opportunity came to him in 1998 when he was selected to be Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District. He arrived in his new position facing many challenges. Vista had undergone dramatic growth in the prior 10 years and the schools had become extremely overcrowded. Schools were on a complicated “year-round” schedule which was the only way to accommodate an influx of nearly 15,000 new students into existing schools designed to hold only 10,000 pupils.

Dave wasted no time enlisting the help of parents, community, and business groups to explore ways to add new schools into the district. The only possible solution was to pass a local school bond and leverage those dollars to receive State matching funds for new school construction. In March 2002, Vista Unified School District voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition O in the amount of $140 million dollars which, with matching State funds, provided nearly $300 million to build 9 new schools and add modernization improvements to all existing schools.

As part of the school construction program, Rancho Minerva Middle School was built at the corner of Foothill Drive and San Clemente Avenue. In order to efficiently use the Huntalas’ property that had been acquired by the school district years earlier, the Huntalas’ home (Rancho Minerva) was deeded over to the City of Vista to house the Vista Historical Society. In addition to Rancho Minerva Middle School, other schools built with Proposition O funds included Temple Heights Elementary, Foothill Oak Elementary, Hannalei Elementary, Maryland Elementary, Mission Vista High and Major General Raymond Murray Continuation High. Much needed multiPurpose buildings were added to Casita Elementary and Washington Middle School (now Vista Innovations and Design Academy VIDA).

A new Football/Soccer stadium was built at Rancho Buena Vista High as well. These educational infrastructure improvements in the City of Vista sparked a new and revitalized energy to launch other Citywide improvements. Dave also served on the committee for the passage of the City of Vista’s Proposition L which provided vital resources to fund public safety, including new fire stations, as well as a new City Hall, a new sports park, and the rebuilding of the Moonlight Amphitheatre.

While superintendent, Dave worked with Mayor Morris Vance and community members to establish the Vista Education Foundation (VEF) which for the past seventeen years has provided educational support and scholarships to Vista students and schools.

After retiring from the School District in 2006, Dave has continued his community involvement by serving on the Board of Trustees for the Vista Community Clinic, the Board of Directors for the Moonlight Cultural Foundation, and the Board of Directors for Operation Hope.

In 2010, Dave was elected to the Vista City Council where he served four years. During his time in office, several downtown improvements were initiated including the Paseo Santa Fe Redevelopment Project and the Downtown Improvement District.

Dave remains active in the Vista community along with his wife and their daughter’s family who also lives in Vista. The three grandchildren living here attend Vista Schools. Their other three children and four grandchildren live in Granite Bay, CA, Lompoc, CA, and Sydney, Australia.