Reposted from the OB Rag
It’s time for Ed Harris – the lifeguard union chief – to jump in and rescue the citizens of San Diego City Council District 2.
Why do they need rescuing?
Well, consider this: The next election – the June Primary – is less than five months away and incumbent Lori Zapf is up for re-election. Zapf, a Republican, faces a district where registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 9,000. That ought to make her very vulnerable come November.
Yet, Zapf faces a field of weak challengers. All of them – and here is where OB Rag makes enemies – from Bryan Pease to Jordan Beane to Jen Campbell – they all have political flaws that make them unable ultimately to mount the District 2 seat in city council chambers downtown.
And that’s why Ed Harris – who once sat in that chair for the District – needs to dive in, enter the race and give Zapf a run for her money.
Zapf needs this challenge because she advances and supports many conservative, Republican and partisan issues and sides. She may be great around short-term vacation rentals, but on almost any other issue her positions just don’t reflect the blue bent of her district – and certainly doesn’t come close to the flaming liberals of Ocean Beach and other coastal communities.
Lori Zapf does have the incumbent advantage, but still can’t win in June because of a voter-approved rule change that requires a November runoff among the top two finishers – even if one gets more than 50 percent of the vote in June. This change came about to level the playing field as typically the electorate leaned more Republican because of lower voter turnout among Democrats in primary elections. Now, that has changed. Which means the top Democratic candidate in the Primary has a real chance to take the District seat.
But this is unlikely to happen – unless Harris enters the race.
Harris served as councilman for District 2 on an interim basis in 2014 after Kevin Faulconer was elected mayor. So, he’s been there already – and he was damn good while he was there for those few months. Harris brought a refreshing pro-labor bent to the Council; he helped shepherd the unanimous council approval of the Ocean Beach Community Plan; and he refused to rubber-stamp questionable city contracts relating to Mission Beach.
No doubt he would be okay, you may say, but what about Ocean Beach Town Council President Gretchen Newsom? Isn’t she as good a candidate as Harris? She was the runner-up for being appointed to the D2 seat back in 2014.
Newsom is great – and would be a wonderful candidate.
I spoke to her recently about this very issue – but Gretchen is adamant that she cannot and will not enter any race for Council. She just is not there.
So, what about the other candidates.
There’s Bryan Pease – the “environmental lawyer.” Pease does have an activist heart and has worked to help the La Jolla seals, but over the last number of years, he has jumped back and forth into a number of races for local offices, City Council D1, City Attorney, carpet-bagger-ish. He didn’t do well in those other races. Some of his antics seem to be designed for the media and not his potential constituents.
Then there’s Jordan Beane, the former Chargers employee with no political experience. Beane is a really nice guy – and he’s tried to make his name and face known at community meetings in a non-aggressive fashion. He’s one of the few candidates who has called Zapf out – but his inexperience shows; he needs to be tougher. He also needs to understand that some neighborhoods at the beach are some of the most densest in the city.
Beane does have compassion. He told the Voice of San Diego he would “change the city’s strategy of ticketing people who are homeless and using police force to keep them from congregating on downtown streets and sidewalks.”
Apparently, one of the newer Democratic party candidates, Jen Campbell, needs some of that compassion. I agree with Doug Porter over at San Diego Free Press, when he wrote this morning:
I’m also angry. I’ve just seen a video of a supposedly leading Democratic candidate for City Council who seems to think she can win by fanning the flames of hate towards our city’s homeless. Here’s the money quote from District 2 candidate Dr. Jen Campbell, speaking to a group on Thursday, January 4:
“You see all those panhandlers on the corners? They’re probably not even homeless! They’re just pretending they are. They’re begging. Do they have a license? I doubt it. In the city they have to have a license. Is anyone checking that? No. We don’t have enough police!”
The video of Campbell was supplied by Bryan Pease. As Porter said, “Pease also pointed out the irony of her mentioning licensing, given that he was the attorney whose 2006 lawsuit struck down San Diego’s charitable solicitation license ordinance as being unconstitutional.”
Campbell was the hope of the liberals of District 2. She had many Party endorsements and she’s related to President Obama’s former chief of staff. But her gaffe a few days ago shows the illiberal side of her. Other progressives who have seen the video are disgusted.
There’s also Jim Bell – OB’s eco-protector and has been a candidate for many local races. But Bell, unfortunately, just had a stroke and even though he’s now okay, it looks like his health may limit his candidacy.
Daniel Smiechowski has been around to community meetings and always announces himself, but it’s unclear just what he has done to earn anyone’s vote, and it’s not clear where he stands on key issues. He has a background in real estate.
On Zapf’s right, there’s Joshua Tomolak, a gun rights activist, who calls himself “a dedicated veteran bringing fiscal responsibility, common sense solutions and limited government to San Diego City Council District 2.”
That takes us back to Ed Harris – who up till now, to be honest – has shied away from any candidacy for the District. He does remain visible with his lifeguard union work and conflicts with San Diego Fire Department management.
Even he did dive in and swim out to the residents, he’s no shoo-in. It would take work – and I’m sure there are volunteers in the woodwork – but Harris needs to (changing metaphors) vigorously grab the reins and give it a kick. He was a mayoral candidate in 2016 – so he does have name recognition and fundraising experience, although he finished third in the 2016 mayor’s race to Faulconer and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.
But that’s okay because we’re talking district elections. If Harris dove in, he could very well win in November.
*Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board of the San Diego Free Press has not yet endorsed any candidate or potential candidate for San Diego City Council District 2.