Democrats eye path to San Diego City Council Supermajority

Posted at 11:49 PM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 07:32:47-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Democrats' 5-4 majority on the technically
nonpartisan San Diego City Council was on pace Wednesday to increase to 6-3, a
majority immune to Mayor Kevin Faulconer's veto.
   Democrat physician Jennifer Campbell was holding a solid lead over
Republican incumbent District 2 City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf. Meanwhile,
Democrat and District 4 City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole was fighting a losing
battle to fellow Democrat and civil rights lawyer Monica Montgomery.
   Should Cole or Zapf lose, they would become the first City Council
member to lose re-election since 1991.
   In District 6, Republican City Councilman Chris Cate bested challenger
Tommy Hough.
   Vivian Moreno, a staffer for termed out District 8 City Councilman
David Alvarez, was leading San Ysidro school board member Antonio Martinez in
the race to take Alvarez's seat. Alvarez, Moreno and Martinez are all
   The race for the council's seat representing District 2 became one of
the fiercest in the city. Zapf cruised through the primary with 44.6 percent of
the vote, more than double anyone else's share of votes in the district. Zapf
shook off an August challenge to her re-election eligibility by third-place
finisher Bryan Pease, who argued that Zapf was termed out because she had
already served two terms.
   Zapf's argument, held up by an appeals court panel, was that she
served her first term representing District 6 and was redistricted into
District 2.
   Campbell argued that Zapf is more closely aligned with President
Donald Trump than the coastal district's left-leaning population, where
Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 10,000.
   District 2 residents also had campaign advertisements and mailers
thrust upon them highlighting past comments by Zapf -- which she later
apologized for -- disparaging gay people and homosexuality. Zapf's mailers
argued that Campbell may have committed disability fraud, and should be
dismissed as a viable candidate on that allegation alone.
   Both candidates received large amounts of financial support from
outside groups in the run-up to the election -- labor unions for Campbell and
business groups for Zapf. The campaigns of both women could theoretically spend
a combined total of $2.4 million on the race by the time the election dust
   Cate never appeared as vulnerable as Zapf due to his success in the
primary and vast fundraising lead. Cate took 58.5 percent of the primary vote,
while Hough mustered 16 percent. Cate also led Hough in fundraising $151,320 to
$4,860 as of Sept. 22, according to KPBS.
   Hough argued that he will narrow the gap between him and Cate with his
ground game and claims Cate has handled multiple issues poorly during his
term, like vacation rentals and community choice energy, which the city plans
to implement by 2021.
   Hough also railed against Cate for providing a confidential memo from
the City Attorney's office about Measure E, the SoccerCity initiative, to
SoccerCity officials in June 2017. Cate paid a $5,000 fine for the leak, but
the state Attorney General's Office opted in May not to charge Cate.
   Cate mostly campaigned on his City Council record of fixing roads and
saving two senior centers in the district from closing. Cate argued to the San
Diego Union-Tribune that the race should be focused on results.
   Cole's second-place finish in the June primary, albeit by a meager six
votes, surprised City Hall politicians on both sides of the aisle. Cole
suggested to Voice of San Diego in July that her lack of a ground game during
the primary was the main cause of the result.
   The district, sandwiched between City Heights on the west and Lemon
Grove on the east, is deeply blue, with registered Democrats outnumbering
Republicans 3-to-1. However, Cole is the most moderate of the five current
Democratic City Council members, a fact that might have caused Montgomery to
enter the race.
   Montgomery is a former member of Cole's staff who resigned last year
when Cole suggested that some racial profiling is useful. Montgomery has argued
that Cole is twisted around the axle of City Hall politics, keeping her from
effectively representing her District 4 constituents.
   Cole stepped up her campaigning after the primary and has received
significant financial backing from labor leaders in recent months. Two weeks
before the election, Cole also received support from a somewhat unlikely
   A report by Voice of San Diego revealed that Mayor Kevin Faulconer
nixed two planned campaign expenditures that would have gone to Montgomery and
has helped raise money for Cole since September. Theoretically, a Democratic
council with Cole as the swing vote would be more beneficial to Faulconer than
the more progressive Montgomery.
   City Council District 8 is something of a wild card, given Alvarez is
termed out and unable to run again. Alvarez is running for a seat on the San
Diego Community College District Board of Trustees.
   Moreno led the way in the June primary with 35.8 percent of the vote
while Martinez advanced to the general election by just three votes over human
rights advocate Christian Ramirez. Despite the narrow margin, Martinez received
the endorsement of both Ramirez and the San Diego County Democratic Party.
   Martinez frames himself as something of an outsider, claiming that the
City Council largely ignores District 8, which is geographically separated
and includes Barrio Logan, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
   "Our community has been ignored for too long," Martinez said in his
official statement. "I'll fight for the fair share our neighborhoods
   Moreno, however, ran on her experience in City Hall, arguing that the
transition from Alvarez to her would be negligible. Moreno would also be the
first woman to represent the region on the council. Moreno is supported by
Alvarez, the Sierra Club, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas and City
Councilwoman Georgette Gomez.
   Meanwhile, voters approved Measures K and YY.
   Measure K will correct the phrasing in the City Charter's term-limit
provision for City Council members, limiting them to two terms regardless of
district. In essence, Zapf would not be eligible for re-election this year had
the specifications in Measure K already been on the books.
   Measure YY, meanwhile, faced staunch opposition from taxpayer groups
and local conservatives, who argued that it will run up an eight-figure debt
for the county. The measure authorizes the San Diego Unified School District to
issue $3.5 billion in bonds to fund repairs and upgrades to schools across the
   "The San Diego Unified School District board has recklessly
mismanaged its finances and now wants struggling San Diego families to pay over
$1,000 each to bail them out," said former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, part
of a coalition of businesses and taxpayer advocates opposing the measure.
   The bonds will fund improvements to school security, classroom
technology, plumbing and campus infrastructure and, most importantly, remove
asbestos from campuses and lead from drinking water.