Presidential campaign might impact San Diego's election

Posted at 10:42 AM, Jun 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 12:07:22-04

SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Kevin Faulconer will seek a full four-year term at San Diego's helm in Tuesday's primary election, while five candidates will compete for the city attorney job.

The voting comes near the end of a rather unusual presidential primary season that might - or might not - have a trickle-down impact on local races.

Interest in the Democratic campaign between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders resulted in a surge of Democratic registration in San Diego and the county as a whole - increasing the party's margin by a couple percentage points.

"This is such a crazy primary (season) both nationally and locally, that I haven't seen anything like it in 30 years," San Diego political consultant John Dadian told City News Service.

Dadian said he believes the registration changes among the parties won't make much of a difference in the primary election.

The impact on local races could also be muted by their nonpartisan nature, in which candidate names won't have Ds and Rs next to them on the ballot.

Faulconer, who won a special election in February 2014 to replace the resigned Bob Filner, is being challenged by former Councilman Ed Harris and ex-Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

Harris, who leads the city's lifeguard union, filled Faulconer's seat on the City Council by appointment for about eight months. Saldana served in the Assembly from 2004-2010.

As is typical in a race with an incumbent, the election will be a referendum on Faulconer's performance over two-plus years.

While he has boosted municipal services during good economic times and devoted more money to badly needed road repairs, he's caught flak from Chargers fan groups for refusing to endorse, or oppose, the team's plans to build a downtown stadium and convention center annex. The leaders of the groups contend the mayor is beholden to downtown hotel owners who would rather expand the convention center at its current site.

Faulconer has also faced recent criticism for staffing shortages among San Diego police dispatchers that have resulted in sometimes long delays for 9-1-1 callers. His budget for the upcoming fiscal year proposes spending $652,000 to hire additional dispatchers.

A candidate who earns a majority of votes in the primary election will win the office outright. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will face each other in the November general election.

In the city attorney's race, a group of candidates with strong records of public service will vie for a spot on the November ballot, since simple math makes an outright victory unlikely. The eventual winner will replace Jan Goldsmith, who is being termed out after eight years.

The contenders are:

-Gil Cabrera, an attorney who serves on the San Diego Convention Center Board of Directors

-Rafael Castellanos, a lawyer who is a member of the Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners

-Mara Elliott, a deputy city attorney

-Robert Hickey, a deputy district attorney

-Bryan Pease, a lawyer best known for representing animal rights advocates seeking to protect the seals at the Children's Pool in La Jolla.