For those who haven’t sent in their ballots or still prefer to vote in person on Election Day, here are CityBeat’s endorsements. If you identify as a Democrat, liberal, progressive or even slightly left-of-center moderate, please complete your entire ballot. Local candidates named Filner, Roberts, Peters, Block and Lightner, among others, need your votes.
In the middle of that mess, Obama passed a landmark healthcare bill that got millions more people insured despite an opposition party whose stated goal was to ensure that he was limited to one term in office and set out to achieve that goal by attempting to thwart his major policy initiatives. He ended the foolhardy war in Iraq, killed Osama bin Laden, stopped discrimination in the military and brought out of the shadows immigrants who were “illegal” through no fault of their own.The election at the end of a president’s first term is always a referendum on his performance so far. Barack Obama has done as well as anyone could. He took office amid the nation’s worst economic calamity in the past 75 years, which, as Bill Clinton has said, was never going to be fixed overnight, no matter who was president. But the economy is slowly rebounding.
His opponent, Mitt Romney, represents an elite club of Americans that seeks to continue the consolidation of wealth into the hands of the mega-rich. He wants to send the defense budget through the roof but has no way to pay for it; he vows not to increase taxes for the wealthy, so everyone else will end up holding the bag. The idea that Republicans at the national level are more frugal is fiction. If Democrats tax and spend, Republicans just spend. Which is worse for the national debt?
Meanwhile, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is nearing retirement. If you think women should maintain control over their bodies and abortion should remain legal, this election is crucial. Vote for Barack Obama.
Carl DeMaio is trying desperately to make you believe he’s the kind of moderate that San Diegans like to
San Diego Mayor
elect, with lots of warm, fuzzy talk of “bipartisan coalitions,” bike plans and environmental sustainability. That’s not who he is. DeMaio’s history shows him to be a miniature Grover Norquist, single-mindedly working to eliminate as much government as he possibly can: less revenue, less public service and poorly compensated public servants.
Yet, even as he was engaging in this centrist subterfuge, he added a little Tea Party to his repertoire, saying that he’d force police officers, who don’t want anything to do with enforcing federal immigration law, to turn undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities. That’s a waste of department resources; lawbreakers booked into county jail are currently screened for immigration status.
If there’s been one positive in DeMaio’s politics, it’s that he could always be counted on to oppose large-scale projects whose sketchy financing plans could leave taxpayers holding the bag. Not any more. In order to secure the support of key movers, he’s gotten all snuggly with proponents of such projects.
Mostly, DeMaio wants to talk about pension reform. So, let’s do that. DeMaio doesn’t want you to know that, in 2008, Mayor Jerry Sanders, the City Council and the employee unions did much of the heavy lifting toward pension reform, hammering out an agreement that dramatically reduced benefits for new city employees. That’s why Prop. B didn’t lower basic benefits—it was already done.
After a sales-tax increase failed miserably in 2010, Sanders figured that it was because the public didn’t understand how much financial reform the city had already undertaken, so he hatched a plan for what would become Prop. B. But DeMaio wanted in, so he demanded that the measure go farther than what Sanders envisioned and managed to get key Republicans and taxpayer advocates to back him. Then DeMaio took over the signature-gathering process so that he could use the pension measure as a sort of running mate to his mayoral campaign, leaving out from his rhetoric, of course, that the long-term pension problem had already been solved.
True, there’s still a short-term problem (because they couldn’t reduce benefits for employees hired before 2009), and DeMaio had a decent idea: Limit the types of pay that would factor into an employee’s retirement benefit. But he and his cohorts chose to bypass state-required negotiations with the unions and go straight to the voters. Why? Remember, he really needed a crusade to aid his run for mayor. The result is that Prop. B is now tied up in the courts, with a possible result being that the part of it that saves money could be stripped away, leaving the part that costs taxpayers money in the long run.
This is how we believe DeMaio would run the city—in a way that serves his political interests first. He’ll constantly be at war with his own employees when he’d still need to negotiate the permanent implementation of Prop. B.
Bob Filner, on the other hand, gets along with the unions and is in a better position to negotiate with them. DeMaio wants you to believe the unions are intransigent. Not true. Remember, they went to the table in 2008 and agreed to reduce benefits.
DeMaio went so far as to blame labor for ruining a pothole-filling party that he dubbed a “Road Repair Rally,” a charge that wasn’t even remotely based in fact. For us, that incident is indicative of DeMaio’s modus operandi. We don’t think he’s a pathological liar. It’s more sinister than that: He lies when it serves his agenda.
Filner’s campaign certainly hasn’t been a thing of beauty. But at least his rhetoric matches his decades of public service, which has included stints on the San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education, the San Diego City Council and the U.S. House of Representatives. To be sure, Filner is a liberal. His career has been geared toward protecting and enhancing civil rights, empowering the lower and middle classes, environmental protection and robust services for veterans.
There was a time when we’d have said both of these candidates represented a departure from the insider-power-suit-oriented governance that San Diego’s used to. With DeMaio cozying up to the usual suspects, Filner’s the only one who can still truthfully claim that stance. Yes, union leaders would find a welcome mat at the door of a Filner administration, but so, too, would the environmental-, social- and economic-justice advocates and the neighborhood activists who’ve long been shut off from City Hall’s 11th floor. That’s what we’re excited about.
Filner is rough around the edges, but as long as he surrounds himself with smart, level-headed deputies—and listens to them—he should be OK. Bob Filner gets our strong endorsement.
San Diego City Council, District 1
Incumbent City Councilmember Sherri Lightner is adrift, under attack from the right and abandoned by key interests on the left. As such, she finds herself in quite a battle to retain her seat, having come in a close second place behind challenger Ray Ellis in the June primary.
Lightner is a Democrat and has been endorsed by Councilmembers Tony Young, Marti Emerald, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez, as well as the unions representing city cops and firefighters. Yet, during her first term, she angered influential environmentalists and labor leaders with votes on controversial issues having to do with such things as outsourcing, Walmart and fireworks. The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council has gone so far as to put out hit mailers against her, despite the guarantee that Ellis will be even more hostile toward labor’s interests than will Lightner.
Ellis, a Republican, is a one-trick pony: He’s all about the employee-pension issue and essentially parrots Carl DeMaio’s misleading rhetoric on the issue (see our endorsement in the mayor’s race for details). As a policy matter it’s largely a red herring, and it’s all Ellis has; it’s all he wants to talk about. If both Ellis and DeMaio are elected, the former will be a rubber stamp for the latter. At a recent forum, Ellis was asked to name an idea for improving the city that’s singularly his. All he could come up with was: Partner with the private sector. He might as well just sit on DeMaio’s shoulder.
Asked the same question, Lightner gave a thoughtful answer about diversifying the city’s water supply. What Lightner, a scientist by trade, lacks in communication skills, she makes up for in general intellect and neighborhood-planning know-how. She ain’t perfect, but she’s an independent thinker and much better for San Diego than Ellis. We support Sherri Lightner.
County Supervisor, District 3
Lucky are the voters living in San Diego County’s 3rd supervisorial district (which spans Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, northern San Diego and Escondido). No matter who’s elected to replace Pam Slater- Price, San Diegans will have a fresh voice on the Board of Supervisors for the first time in 16 years.
Recently, Steve Danon, the Republican candidate, invited us out for a chat. Over coffee, we told him up front that he had about as good a chance of winning our endorsement as Lady Gaga has of winning the Taliban’s Artist of the Year award. That didn’t bother Danon at all. We had a productive talk about a variety of county issues that we agreed need a fresh pair of eyes. We even concurred on several policy matters, most notably the sleaziness of the supervisors’ “Neighborhood Reinvestment” slush fund. If Danon wins, we have reason to be optimistic.
However, CityBeat is wholeheartedly, fullthroatedly endorsing Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts, Danon’s Democratic opponent. A progressive voter couldn’t fabricate a more liberalicious candidate. Roberts is an expert in healthcare reform, an ardent environmental advocate ( just try to find a plastic bag in Solana Beach) and an adoptive parent—all that means he’s got a background in three of the areas most in need of scrutiny on the county level. In addition to his elected service, Roberts boasts a background in business and a graduate degree in public administration and, as an LGBT leader, he’ll bring long overdue diversity to the board.
Résumé to résumé, there’s really no comparison: Danon’s experience is heavy on public relations, campaign consulting and managing the offices of Congressmember Brian Bilbray and Supervisor Ron Roberts, two pretty sucky role models. Do yourself a favor and vote for Dave Roberts.
Superior Court Judge, Office 25
Judges shouldn’t be elected; that much is clear from the unexpected election of right-wing conspiracy theorist Gary Kreep in June to the San Diego County Superior Court bench. Voters (and the legal establishment) were asleep that time, but hopefully everyone’s alert enough now to reject Jim Miller Jr.’s candidacy. He’s a nice-enough politician, but a friendly handshake and the gift of gab doesn’t qualify you for a spot on the bench. The San Diego County Bar Association ranked Miller as “lacking qualifications,” and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County recently yanked its endorsement after finding out he’d been pulled from the court’s list of substitute judges.
So, who does support Miller? Well, for one, Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, the white-supremacist-linked legislator who’s best known for the anti-immigrant law SB 1070. That’s a deal breaker for us.
We’re not thrilled with the idea of sending another career prosecutor to an already prosecutor-heavy bench, but we have to endorse Deputy District Attorney Robert Amador. He’s a sharp guy with a thorough understanding of the challenges of criminal and juvenile law—we just hope that he’ll think twice about accepting that unnecessary $572 per month car allowance. We urge you to check the box for Robert Amador.