By Doug Porter
We love elections at San Diego Free Press in much the same way some people love watching organized sporting events.
We’re unabashed partisans and usually have an opinion of the progressive/liberal/contrarian persuasion. But, like true fans, we also like all the trappings of the event. Voting turns us on. And we’d like everybody to do it as often as the law allows.
We’ve already published the City Clerk’s ballot statements for all 10 candidates. We’ve got biographic info lifted verbatim from the candidates’ websites. And we’re updating with new links about each contender every so often. (SDFP will get around –or not– to doing an endorsement after we published all this info and had a meeting that will last way too damn long.)
One of the best ways for voters to learn about candidates is via debates. Our Andy Cohen is going to be a panelist at the KNSJ Nov 11th event.
But debates have real limitations. The positive aspect of actually being able to see a candidate as a person can be countered by constraints of time and space. Sometimes its hard to follow what’s being said, especially if things get heated and candidates start talking across each other.
So we came up with the concept of presenting a virtual debate; an event where the only opinions will be the ones proffered by the candidates. And we tried to come up with questions that were not trite or unnecessarily open ended. (If you’re looking questions about the Chargers, go to any one of the other debates.)
It all sounded lovely on paper.
We created questionnaires and emailed them out to the addresses listed with the City Clerk’s office as contact points. And the only response came from Hud Collins, the one candidate who didn’t have an email address.
I Facebooked and Tweeted about the questionnaire and we got a few more answers. Today, of the major candidates, Kevin Faulconer and Nathan Fletcher haven’t responded. (There’s still time!)
Starting next week we’ll be posting this virtual forum, one question at time. Readers will get to see the candidates’ answers side by side in their own words. They can say as much or as little as they want, because there’s no stopwatch in play here.
Here’s the questionnaire we sent out— it’s not subject to change—to give you an idea of where we’re going with this.
Dear Mayoral Candidate,
The San Diego Free Press invites you to provide answers to the following eight questions. These questions reflect the areas of interest and concern of our editorial board and contributors. We have invited all mayoral candidates to participate.
The questions and your unedited responses will be posted in the San Diego Free Press in the upcoming weeks before the election.
All responses must be sent via email to email@example.com. and need to be received by midnight, Monday October 21.
We look forward to your responses. – San Diego Free Press Editorial Board
1. Impact of Managed Competition
Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin recently questioned the sustainability of service levels in those city departments which successfully won contracts in the managed competition process. Three of these departments underbid the private sector bid by 28% (landfill) to 194% (Street and Sidewalk Maintenance). Source: CityBeat San Diego’s managed competition under fire 9/25/13
What is your response to the analyst’s assessment and those statistics?
2. Plaza de Panama Balboa Park
A Superior Court judge ruled that the Jacobs Plan, which promoted a parking and traffic makeover in Balboa Park, was in violation of the City’s municipal code.
Are you in favor or opposed to revising the municipal code to accommodate the Jacobs Plan and why?
3. Building Permit Enforcement Process/Planning Department
San Diego has a recent history of a flawed building permit enforcement process, such as the construction of the Jack in the Box in North Park, the Walmart in Sherman Heights, the demolition of cottages in La Jolla and the Sunroad encroachment.
What is your plan for addressing this flawed process? AND
Do you support the recently re-constituted Planning Department as a stand-alone entity?
4. Alternative Transportation/Mobility
What is the importance of walkable/bikeable neighborhoods and public transit in San Diego?
5. Infrastructure Maintenance Backlog/Deferred Capital Projects
According to the Independent Analyst Report Number 13-27 (6/20/13) the City is facing “deteriorating infrastructure and a significant backlog of deferred capital projects, currently estimated to be $898 million for streets, facilities, and storm drains. However, this estimate is likely much higher since it is based on an outdated and partial condition assessment…”
How would you prioritize where maintenance and infrastructure investments should be made based upon the reasonable assumption that the full amount of funding necessary will occur over a period of years?
6. Homelessness/ Community Impacts
The annual homeless census for 2012 estimates that there are 8,900 people sleeping in the streets or shelters in the County of San Diego. (Source: http://voiceofsandiego.org/
What is your strategy to alleviate homelessness and the impact it has on specific communities?
7. The Affordable Care Act
San Diegans can now enroll in the individual option of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
What will you do as mayor to inform citizens about this healthcare option?
8. Under the Radar
There are significant and troubling under-reported issues that we face throughout the city and which a number of our communities face much more than others. Please choose one (or more) of the following issues and discuss what you would do as mayor to acknowledge and address it.
Human Trafficking (Sex and Labor)
According to a study by Project Concern International, there are an estimated 38,000 forced labor trafficked persons in the County of San Diego. The 2012 State of Human Trafficking in California Report showed that 72 percent of reported human trafficking victims are American citizens. It also showed that labor trafficking is 3.5 times more prevalent worldwide than sex trafficking, but is reported/prosecuted less than half as often.
What will you do as mayor to continue fighting sex trafficking and increase enforcement on labor trafficking?
What are the most pressing environmental issues that the City of San Diego faces?
Abandoned Animals / Need to Spay and Neuter Animals
The San Diego County Department of Animal Control impounded 9, 256 cats over the past year ending June 30, 2013. Two thousand of these cats were from three city of San Diego zipcodes alone: 92114, 92154 and 92105. There is a high correlation between unneutered/unspayed animals and abandoned pets. This results in inhumane, miserable conditions for these animals and a stress on public and private resources.
What would you do as mayor to address this issue?
According to the Bureau of Justice and CA Partnership to End Domestic Violence, there were 15,823 domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement in 2011. The former countywide domestic violence hotline, which received an average of 1,200 calls a month and in which the most frequent service requested was shelter, went unfunded in August of 2012. Domestic violence cuts across all socio-economic strata and every other demographic category.
What would you do as mayor to address this issue?