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Home / Articles / Opinion / Spin Cycle /  Mayoral campaigns their way
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Wednesday, Sep 07, 2011

Mayoral campaigns their way

One candidate needs a job, the other a challenge

By John R. Lamb
Pettus Tobiah Pettus and wife Holly
- Courtesy: Tobiah Pettus

“Only those who attempt the absurd… will achieve the impossible.” —M.C. Escher

Tobiah Pettus quit his job last year and moved to San Diego to marry the love of his life. Scott Wilson some day wants to swim in Jell-O. Or pennies.

As Spin Cycle concludes its quest to learn something about the mayoral candidates not named Carl, Bonnie, Bob or Nathan, one lesson becomes clear: Why and how people decide to run for office can vary wildly.

As San Diegans have seen with the Big Four, not everyone’s a chatterbox—typically unless it’s on his or her own terms. While Carl DeMaio seems to be everywhere, popping up in every suburban supermarket parking lot, his is a controlled-message campaign: Only pension reform can set you free. The others, meanwhile, seem busy either sitting back (solo Democrat Bob Filner and, inexplicably, the stumbling Bonnie Dumanis) or slowly staking out the middle ground (Nathan Fletcher, portraying the Jerry Sanders-esque regular guy next door).

For the big fish, the motivation seems simple enough to diagnose—there is no shortage of ego and ambition among the Anointed Ones. This, Spin should point out, is not a criticism—it’s just the anticipated by-product of a broken political system that’s been good at manufacturing just two things: an exhausted voting public and politicians who’ll tell you they have the antidote.

Over the last three columns, Spin Cycle has attempted to broaden the discussion by introducing readers to the other 10—yes, 10!—mayoral hopefuls. Since that time, it’s been gratifying to hear that has changed its Sept. 17 Politifest mayoral-debate format from an invite-only affair for the “major” four (only Filner and Fletcher accepted) to a rapid fire contest for all candidates who choose to attend.

Even if it’s wild and woolly, San Diego will be the better for it.

Here are the final two profiles of candidates for mayor (two others, Toby Lewandoski and Bradley Slavens, never returned calls):

Tobiah L. Pettus, 36, unemployed but still a dreamer: A Nevada native and Point Loma Nazarene University graduate with a degree in biology and chemistry, Pettus is an interesting fellow.

He prefers to communicate via e-mail—at least at this early stage, he says.

“If I have any chance of being competitive, I absolutely have to set a firm foundation,” he writes. “I can’t afford to not be clear, to be misunderstood, or misrepresented.”

He writes openly on his website,, about himself—he even includes a copy of his birth certificate online—and his dreams for San Diego, which he has called home since he quit a construction job in the Phoenix area to come here last summer to get married. His wife, Holly, a teacher, is featured prominently on the website, in pictures and in prose.

“Our dream is for Holly to be a stay-at-home mom & to raise our family,” Pettus writes. “So, a large part of the reason that I decided to run for Mayor of San Diego was simply to fight for Holly.”

He describes himself as “anti-tax,” arguing that “enough money is taken through taxation.” He says waste must be eliminated from the city’s budget, including such nonessentials as “fancy paper” and “brand new computers.”

But what Pettus seems to fear most is San Diego losing its tourism mojo as its infrastructure crumbles. Pettus, a Tierasanta Community Council member, calls for a “permanent ongoing solution” to the city’s homeless crisis, improved roads and a volunteer effort to rid San Diego of litter. He would also improve the image and morale of local police by replacing the entire squad-car fleet with more state-of-the-art Chevrolet Caprice police cruisers, as Los Angeles is doing.

To “rekindle the possibility of the American Dream,” Pettus supports “dramatic reductions” in permit fees and the time it takes to issue a permit.

“San Diego must not wait for economic recovery,” he writes. “We will force the lead.”

Scott A. Wilson, 33, bucket-list candidate, beach booze-ban opponent: Wilson can’t imagine living anywhere else but southern California. An Orange County native, the husky Wilson moved to San Diego in 1997 to attend San Diego State University and never left.

A single guy in Pacific Beach (“On the market!” he writes), Wilson also prefers to communicate via email, although a brief conversation with him proved entertaining.

An entrepreneur who sells butcher paper and other supplies to schools and churches—hence his website,—Wilson said about running for mayor: “Honestly? It was on my bucket list: Run for something important.”

Now, granted, that list also includes “Swim in a pool full of Jell-O. Or pennies. Either way.” And “Get a book published.” And “Take a journey across the United States.”

And he’s not the most confident of candidates. “I don’t think I’ll be in for very long,” he concedes, “but I do have some ideas.”

His biggest goal: Dumping the city’s beach alcohol ban. “My position,” he writes, “of allowing alcohol in certain zones on our beaches with a permit, will bring jobs and revenue for… police, fire, lifeguards, and Park & Recreation.”

Wilson talks extensively about this on his mayoral website, Crazy, as well as his ideas for improving education. He also supports legalizing marijuana and taxing it, “just as soon as there is a way to check for the presence of it in a person’s system with an immediate test.”

He would also like to see methods improved for filling pot holes so they withstand weather and wear. Wilson is clearly open to new ideas—when Spin Cycle sent him a link to a website discussing “rubberized asphalt concrete,” he enthusiastically put it up on his mayoral website.

While he’s not planning to win (“Just to run for the fun, you know?”), Wilson did say it’s important to demonstrate to San Diegans “that anyone can stand up and run for an office, or stand up and have their opinions and voices heard.”

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