SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A potentially transformational local election season looms in San Diego in 2018, a year that should keep many of Monday's major news topics front and center in the public eye.
Both the city and county of San Diego will hold elections under new, voter-approved systems.
In the city, the top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary in each race will face each other in the November general election, no matter how wide the margin. Previously, if one candidate received more than half the vote in June, he or she would win office outright.
In the county, a term limits law enacted in 2010 will be invoked for the first time to end the lengthy tenures of two members of the Board Supervisors.
Voting could also determine the future of the 166-acre SDCCU Stadium property, with two competing proposals likely to go before city residents.
Other major news stories that will develop, or continue, during 2018 include:
Mayor Kevin Faulconer's search for a new police chief to succeed the retiring Shelley Zimmerman, a process that has drawn criticism from some community activists even though the city held multiple public meetings on the issue in different neighborhoods;
the problem of increased homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, which will continue to confront both city and county officials whose attempts at long-term solutions were put on the back-burner by a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A;
the impact of a recently approved contract between the city of San Diego and its police officers designed to stem a tide of cops leaving the department for greener pastures;
the city of San Diego's strained budget picture, which has led management to ask for city departments to submit proposals for 2 percent cuts;
a lack of rain during the fall and, so far, the winter that could raise fears of renewed drought after last year's heavy rains;
a trial in late January and early February for Tieray Jones, who is accused in the 2002 murder of his toddler stepson, Jahi Turner, whose body has never been found;
the future of San Diego-based Qualcomm as an independent corporation, as unwanted suitor Broadcom has proffered a slate of director candidates for a Qualcomm stockholders meeting scheduled for March 6, a battle that could have huge stakes for the local economy;
a possible baseball Hall of Fame selection for former Padres pitching great Trevor Hoffman, who fell just short in his first time on the ballot last year, with an announcement scheduled for Jan. 24.
the eventual use of the stadium land in Mission Valley, for which San Diegans will vote, probably in November, on separate and competing initiatives that would turn the property into a soccer-centric commercial development or a site for San Diego State campus expansion.
If both SoccerCity and SDSU West collect enough votes to pass, the one receiving the highest vote total is expected to get the nod by city officials. Both plans would replace SDCCU Stadium with smaller multi-sport facilities.
San Diego elections...
The focus in San Diego City Council races will be on District 2, where Lorie Zapf will run for another term representing residents of the beach areas and Mission Bay.
She's facing numerous challengers, and if a Democrat takes her seat, that would push the council's majority from a narrow 5-4 to a mayoral veto- proof 6-3. Running against her are Jordan Beane, who used to host videos on the Chargers website; Green Party activist Jim Bell, family medicine Dr. Jennifer Campbell, community activist Jim Morrison, lawyer Bryan Pease; Daniel Smiechowski, a real estate agent and community volunteer; and veteran Joshua Tomolak.
Another close race could be in District 8, where Councilman David Alvarez is being termed-out. Automobile sales manager Zachary Lazarus, San Ysidro school board member Antonio Martinez, Alvarez staffer Vivian Moreno and immigrant rights advocate Christian Ramirez are set to square-off in the primary.
Council President Myrtle Cole and Councilman Chris Cate are also running for reelection.
The county's term limits law will end the 24-year tenures of Supervisors Bill Horn and Ron Roberts and bring in a pair of fresh faces.
Running for Horn's North County seat are San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, and Oceanside City Council members Jerome Kern and Esther Sanchez.
Bidding to replace Roberts in representing much of San Diego are former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, ex-Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, retired San Diego Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Marlbrough, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, real estate investment advisor Marcia Nordstrom, and lawyer Omar Passons.
Horn and Roberts have teamed up with Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob to dominate the board since 1995. The winners will join first-term Supervisor Kristin Gaspar to bring a new makeup toward the panel. Cox and Jacob will serve until 2020.
Marijuana in San Diego...
Beginning New Year's Day, some marijuana dispensaries in California that acquired a state permit will be able to sell the drug for recreational use. That follows voter-approval of a 2016 state proposition that decriminalized the drug.
It's estimated that between eight and 10 dispensaries in San Diego will sell marijuana for recreational use at the outset, with double that number having applied for a permit.