For information on the November 2016 General Election, see our San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide
By Doug Porter
The 2016 primary season is officially upon us. Today I’m presenting a quick review of what San Diego City voters can expect to see on June 7 (Or earlier if voting by mail). This is just the first of what will be many columns and articles over the next two months. And, yes, we’ll be talking about other contests throughout the region.
UPDATED: INFO for the 2016 primary can be found here.
After months of hand-wringing in the pundit class, we now have two viable challengers to incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Odd-numbered city council districts are up for grabs, and three of those will choosing somebody new to represent residents.
There are ballot measures A thru I, most of which are updates to the City Charter. Just about the time your eyes will want to glaze over from all the legalese coming from Measure G, there will be two significant choices to follow. Stay Awake. These are important decisions.
FYI– Incumbents are in red. The pound sign (#) indicates an endorsement from the County GOP. One asterisk (*) indicates an endorsement from the County Democrats. Two asterisks (**) indicates an assessment from the Democrats that a candidate is deemed acceptable. A plus sign (+) indicates an endorsement from organized labor.
Mayor of San Diego
SDFP contributor Norma Damashek eloquently described the office at the top of local political heap a while back:
Think about this: over ten years ago our City Charter was drastically amended to beef up the status of the mayor from head honcho of the city council to chief executive officer of the entire city.
This “strong mayor” amendment was sold to voters with a promise that San Diegans would henceforth know where the buck stops. The new “strong mayor” – not some appointed city manager – would be accountable for running the city, for getting the people’s work done, for snapping the whip over city departments, for delivering efficiency and excellent performance, for serving the public good.
True to its word, the “strong mayor” amendment freed the mayor from the city council. Mayor Kevin Faulconer (already attached at the hip to his horse whisperer, ex-strong mayor Jerry Sanders) came into office with considerably more political power – at least on paper – than old-timers like Frank Curran, Pete Wilson, Roger Hedgecock, Maureen O’Connor, Susan Golding, and Dick Murphy, all of whom served as mayor under the bygone city manager form of government.
But the City Charter “strong mayor” amendment failed to free the mayor from the professional manipulators and ventriloquists who comprise San Diego’s ruling junta and who operate under a seemingly irrevocable, never-expiring private contract to use city government for their exclusive financial games and gains.
Having set the scene, here are the 2016 candidates for mayor. As is true with all the local contests, any candidate pulling down 50%+1 votes gets a pass on the general election; otherwise, the top two face off in November.
Kevin Faulconer (#) – Incumbent Mayor of San Diego, former City Councilman. Moderately Republican, in a coastal-Californian kind of way Web Site: Kevin Faulconer.com
Ed Harris (*) – Former interim City Councilman for D2, heads up the lifeguards union. A Democrat of the populist persuasion. Web Site:
Lori Saldaña – Former Assemblywoman, Community College Teacher. Former Democrat, now running as an Independent. Lori4Mayor.com
Incumbent City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is termed out. (And that’s a good thing from my perspective.) The fact that there are five serious candidates for the position, along with the waft of big bucks in the air, should alert you to the political importance of this job.
What could be a check/balance in the strong mayor system has functioned more like a mafia consigliere. (No, I’m not saying Goldsmith is a mobster.)
Gil Cabrera (**) – Attorney. Democrat with Progressive leanings. Web Site: www.gilcabrera.com
Rafael Castellanos (**) – Attorney / Port Commissioner. Democrat with support from many in the Latino community. Web Site: RafaelforSanDiego.com
Mara W. Elliott (**) – Chief Deputy City Attorney. Democrat with lots of institutional support. Web Site: www.maraelliott.com
Robert Hickey (#) – Deputy County District Attorney. Republican backed by the downtown set. Web Site: www.hickeyforcityattorney.com
Bryan William Pease (**) – Consumer Attorney. Democrat of the Bernie Sanders persuasion. Web Site: www.BryanPease.com
District One Candidates, City Council
The early take on the 2016 city races had D1 to be the contest that could shift the partisan balance of power on the the “non-partisan” city council. And Democrats were fearful of losing the seat current held by Sherri Lightner in a one-on-one primary. Then the termed-out incumbent’s husband–who is at least nominally a Republican– jumped into race. Now it’s…complicated…
Barbara Bry (*) – High-tech Entrepreneur, Women’s Activist. Democrat of the La Jolla persuasion. Web Site: BarbaraBry.com
Ray Ellis (#) – Community Volunteer. Wealthy Republican. Web Site: www.ellisforcouncil.com
Bruce D. Lightner – Engineer / Inventor/ Business Owner. Wildcard Republican. Web Site: www.brucelightner.org
Kyle Heiskala – Council President Lightner’s representative to University City. Electoral novice. Web Site: www.KyleHeiskala.com
Louis A. Rodolico – Retired Architect Web Site: www.louisrodolico.com
District Three Candidates, City Council
Incumbent Todd Gloria is termed out and likely moving onward to the State Assembly. D3 has an engaged community, high voter turn-out, and is deeply Blue. So the question is: what kind of Democrat will fill Todd’s shoe’s? Will it be the gotta-get-along style of the incumbent’s early years, or the passionate activist we’ve seen more recently?
Anthony Bernal – Works for Todd Gloria as a City Council Representative. Democrat, who’s had some shade cast his way by at least one party bigwig for cozying up to the usual suspects in the business sector. Web Site: www.bernal4all.com
Chris Ward (*) – Chief of Staff for State Senator Marty Block. Democrat of the endorsed-by-the-party persuasion. Web Site: www.VoteForward.com
Scott Sanborn – Former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, Law School Graduate. No Party Preference, says he’s running as a “pissed off veteran.” Web Site: http://scottsanborn.vote/
District 5 Candidates, City Council
D5 is Republican territory, and I don’t know of anybody who thinks this will change in the short run.
Mark Kersey (#) – Councilman/Small Business Owner. Republican, tasked with being Faulconer’s go-to wonk lately. Some see this as a sign of future political advancement. Web Site: MarkKersey.com
Keith Mikas – Boy Scout Leader, volunteer at San Diego’s chapter of US Green Building Council. Web Site: Keith2016.com
Frank Tsimboukakis (*) -Investment Manager/Businessman. Democrat. Previously ran for assembly against Joel Anderson. Web Site: Frankforsandiegocouncil5.com
District Seven Candidates, City Council
The last time around, the newly redrawn D7 ended up with four white guys running for city council. This time it’s different, but the powers of incumbency are great and the district’s not likely to change hands.
Scott Sherman (#) – Small Business Owner/Councilmember. Republican. Author of Charger Stadium/Riverfront Proposal.
Jose Caballero – Small Business Owner. Democrat of the Bernie Sanders persuasion. http://www.jose4sd.com/
Justin A. DeCesare (*) – Businessman / Entrepreneur. Democrat, president of the Tierrasanta Community Council. Web Site: Justin2016.com
District Nine Candidates, City Council
Incumbent Marti Emerald is retiring from public office. D9 was carved out in the redistricting process with the idea in mind of empowering minority and Latino citizens with a path to more representation. It’s deep Blue and very diverse.The North-South divide is a real thing in D9, with El Cajon Blvd. being the boundary between high propensity voters in Kensingon & Normal Heights and lower propensity voters in City Heights and other communities strongly influenced by immigrants and minorities.
Ricardo Flores (**) – Councilmember Marty Emerald’s Chief of Staff. Mainstream Democrat, comes from a family with a history of Latino activism Web Site: www.floresforcouncil.com
Georgette Gomez (**) – Executive with Environmental Health Coalition. Progressive Democrat with ties to environmental activists, Latino and LGBTQ communities. Web Site: www.GomezD9.com
Sarah Saez (**)(+) – Policy and Program Director, United Taxi Workers of San Diego. Another progressive Democrat, with serious street cred (Organizing Taxi Workers is no picnic) and an activist background, to boot. Web Site: www.voteSaez.org
Araceli Martinez – Attorney, former President of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association. No stated political party. Child and family advocate with connections in the Latino community. Web Site: www.MartinezSDD9.com
City Ballot Measures, Listed in Reverse
The powers-that-be realized that putting off updating the City Charter has come back to haunt them when then-Mayor Filner crashed and burned. There was no mechanism for replacing him while in office, so the threat of a legal bludgeoning (and the costs that go with it) was the only out. And then there was all that pesky stuff in the Charter that hadn’t been updated when Proposition 13 went into effect nearly four decades back.
Thus we now have Propositions A thru H as proposed fixes to the city’s foundational legal document. A thru G are straightforward updates, and there is presently no opposition to them.
Worth further examination are Prop.H (funding mechanism for infrastructure) and Prop. I (an increase in the local minimum wage, plus earned sick days).
I’m going to list these in reverse order because it’s the last two that are important. Here’s a link for all the legalese, where as(es) and there fores in all the ballot measures.
Proposition I – Local Minimum Wage and Earned Sick Days
Arguments for signed by City Councilman Todd Gloria,Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, Small Business Owner Jon Cantwell, Janitor Ada Loera and United Veterans council Chair Jack Harkins. Vote YES on Proposition I. www.raisethewagesd.com
Arguments against signed by Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, Homecare Provider Sheri Harvey and Small Business Coalition Member Ann Kinner.
PROPOSITION I. REFERENDUM OF ORDINANCE REGARDING EARNED SICK LEAVE AND MINIMUM WAGE. Shall Ordinance O-20390 be approved, establishing that employers are to compensate employees working in the City of San Diego with earned sick leave of up to forty hours a year and a minimum wage of $10.50 an hour upon the Ordinance’s effective date, $11.50 an hour on January 1, 2017, and increasing with the cost of living on January 1, 2019 and annually thereafter?
Editorial Note: I have been ranting about this for better than two years. One snip:
Voters in the city of San Diego will get a chance to weigh in on an ordinance providing stepped increases in the minimum wage and up to five earned sick days annually in the June 2016 primary election.
A historic wrong will be righted with public approval of the measure, implementation of which was delayed by a deceptive petition campaign financed by out of town interests whose business model depends on government assistance to their employees.
The original ordinance was approved in the summer of 2014, following months of City Council president Todd Gloria attempting and essentially failing to get business community input. Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the measure. The City Council overrode the veto, 6-3, voting along party lines.
Proposition H – ‘Rebuild San Diego’
Arguments for signed by City Councilman Mark Kersey
Arguments against signed by San Diego Taxpayers Advocate President Scott Barnett, Center on Policy Initiatives Executive Director Clare Crawford, and United Nurses Associations of California Affiliate Hospital President Lisa Haughey
PROPOSITION H. CHARTER AMENDMENT: INFRASTRUCTURE FUND. Shall the Charter be amended to require certain unrestricted General Fund revenues to be deposited in an Infrastructure Fund used exclusively to pay for capital improvements including streets, sidewalks, bridges, bike paths, storm water and drainage systems; public buildings including libraries, recreational and community centers; public safety facilities including police, fire and lifeguard stations; and park facilities, but expressly not used for new convention center facilities and new professional sports venues?
PROPOSITION G. CHARTER AMENDMENT REGARDING AUDITS OF ACCOUNTS OF CITY OFFICIALS AND OFFICERS UPON THEIR DEATH, RESIGNATION, OR REMOVAL FROM CITY OFFICE. Shall the City Charter be amended to update language and to repeal the requirement that the City Auditor conduct audits and investigations of City officials and officers upon their death, resignation, or removal from City office?
PROPOSITION F. CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING FINANCIAL OPERATIONS OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO. Shall the City Charter be amended to update the City’s financial operations, including amendments regarding the certification of funds, the authorization and payment of claims, the management of funds, the disposition of proceeds of the sale of City-owned real property and the establishment of reserves?
PROPOSITION E. CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING THE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS FOR THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO. Shall the City Charter be amended to update the process related to budgeting and appropriating funds, to consolidate provisions that appeared throughout the Charter and to clarify the approval process for the City budget?
PROPOSITION D. CHARTER AMENDMENT REGARDING POWER TO FIX SALARIES. Shall City Charter section 70 be amended to conform to existing provisions related to the Strong Mayor form of government, by updating titles of specified officers and clarifying who has authority to fix their salaries and the City’s compensation schedules; to specify the City’s legal duty to comply with California’s collective bargaining laws in establishing annual compensation schedules; and to update language?
PROPOSITION C. CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING THE LEVY, ASSESSMENT AND COLLECTION OF PROPERTY TAXES AND THE REPEAL OF PROVISIONS FOR COLLECTING PROPERTY TAXES THE CITY CANNOT COLLECT UNDER STATE LAW. Shall the City Charter be amended to clarify the manner in which the City levies, assesses and collects property taxes in the City, and to repeal provisions regarding property taxes the City is not able to levy as a result of Proposition 13 and related state law?
PROPOSITION B. CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING THE AUTHORIZATION AND ISSUANCE OF GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS AND REVENUE BONDS. Shall the City Charter be amended to update provisions related to the authorization and issuance of bonds, to reflect changes in state law, and simplify and conform the City’s processes with the California Constitution?
PROPOSITION A. CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING REDISTRICTING OF COUNCIL DISTRICTS IN THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO. Shall the City Charter be amended to update the process related to redistricting of City Council districts, including amendments to expand the citizen Redistricting Commission from seven to nine members, to clarify and expand the timeline for the appointment and qualification of members, to provide for alternate members on the Commission and appointing panel, and to explain the effective date of boundaries?
On This Day: 1930 – 35,000 unemployed march in New York’s Union Square. Police beat many demonstrators, injuring 100. 1976 – In London, the Sex Pistols played their first show at The 100 Club. 1981 – President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded in Washington, DC, by John W. Hinckley Jr. Two police officers and Press Secretary James Brady were also wounded.
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