He wasn’t on the ballot, but it was a bad night for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Two incumbent City Council members who he’d successfully worked with on issues lost to newcomers. And now Democrats have a veto-proof super-majority on the council.
The Soccer City initiative (Measure E) that emerged from back room negotiations involving the Mayor’s office went down hard, garnering less than 30% support.
District 2’s incumbent Republican Councilwoman Lorie Zapf lost by 10 points to Democrat Dr. Jen Campbell, despite being backed by several hundred thousand dollars in support from the Lincoln Club/Chamber of Commerce axis.
The Democratic effort in the coastal region was bolstered by canvasing support from organized labor, Indivisible groups, and County Supervisor candidate Nathan Fletcher’s campaign.
(Ed Note: The margins cited in this story are based on results as of 8 am Wednesday. If significant shifts occur, it will be updated.)
District 4’s incumbent Democrat Council member Myrtle Cole lost to Monica Montgomery by 9 points. Despite labor backing Cole, whose role as Council president gave her high visibility, a grassroots community effort fueled by dissatisfaction with the incumbent’s performance made the difference in the district.
It’s been almost three decades since an incumbent council member lost in San Diego. What both Zapf and Cole had in common was the perception of a disconnect from their constituencies.
Zapf all-but-admitted she was bored with the position, and it showed in her demeanor during council meetings. As a Republican in a Democratic-majority district, the key to retaining her position –as it had been for Kevin Faulconer in D2– was being able to make constituents look past partisan labels.
Cole’s loss is a bit more complicated. As the first African-American woman to serve on the City Council, her role should have been a source of pride for the minority-majority constituents in District 4. She squandered that advantage by spending too much of her time and energy focused on political gamesmanship.
From Voice of San Diego:
In the closing days of the race, labor-backed groups sent mailers alleging that Montgomery was a secret Republican who couldn’t be trusted.
The community saw through it, Montgomery said, and delivered a message.
“A well-organized, grassroots campaign can beat the money,” she said. “You can put a mailer out every single day. In a district like District 4, if you don’t have a relationship with the people, if you don’t show up consistently through your term, the people have the power to vote you out.”
Given the opportunity to take the lead on grievances driven by increasing evidence of racial profiling by law enforcement, Cole failed miserably. She walked back her comments blaming black-on-black crime for poor community relations, but took actions widely perceived as obstructionist when it came time to consider significant reforms.
Incumbent Republican Council member Chris Cate rose above a minor scandal involving the disclosure of confidential information to easily win reelection by 14 points over Democratic challenger Tommy Hough.
The Hough campaign’s attempts to paint Cate as out of touch with his district failed, largely because the incumbent has been the political equivalent of the energizer bunny when it comes to making appearances before community groups and at events.
In District 8, Vivian Moreno used her long-time connections built up as an aide to termed-out Councilman David Alvarez to win over San Ysidro School Board member Antonio Martinez. Both candidates are Democrats.
Martinez had significant institutional support from labor and the backing of the party establishment. Moreno knew her soon-to-be constituents. Her victory played out against the backdrop of long-standing feuds in the Latinx community.
In other city races, incumbents on the San Diego Unified School Board of trustees won handily, with Kevin Beiser garnering a 70% majority and Michael McQuary with 58% over Marcia Nordstom.
Measure YY (the San Diego Neighborhood School Repair and Student Safety Measure) passed the 55% threshold needed for approval. SDUSD is authorized to sell $3.5 billion in bonds, to be paid for with levy of 6-cents per $100 of assessed valuation on taxable property within the school district.
Things aren’t so clear with one of the contests for the San Diego Community College Trustees. Maria Nieto Senour (District A) and Craig Milgram (District C) both coasted to victory.
District E, which pitted political newcomer Sean Elo against soon-to-be-termed-out City Councilman David Alvarez is still too close to call. Elo managed to win the endorsement of the Democratic Party. Alvarez had the support of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents instructors in the district.
As a high profile former candidate for mayor, and a long-standing City Council member, Alvarez should have had the advantage. A significant ground game and factionalism within the Democratic party amounted to a big boost for Elo.
Most of the ballot measures for the City of San Diego were non-controversial. Measures H,J,K,L,M and N all passed by large margins.
Term limits for school board members going forward are in place. Contractors will have to be more transparent when bidding on projects. The Lorie Zapf loophole allowing her to sidestep Council term limits via redistricting is closed. The Mayor and City Ciuncil will be seeing substancial pay raises. Audit committee appointments will be simplified. And certain disability benefits for police officers are reinstated.
Competing proposals (E & G) for redevelopment of Mission Valley were contentious, or so we were led to believe. In the end, it wasn’t even close.
Supporters of Measure E, also known as SoccerCity, created the proposal as it became clear the city’s NFL franchise was headed for greener pastures. Negotiations to include future expansion of San Diego State University fell apart, and Measure G (SDSU West) was born.
Despite spending what seemed to an incredible amount of money on advertising, Measure E failed to get support from more than 30% of voters.
Measure G, which also ran an agressive campaign, passed with just short of 55% of voters saying yes.
Not on the ballot was the concept of land development via elections being a lousy idea.
*** (More election stories coming, as fast as I can write them)
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter