Tonight our County Democratic Party will consider endorsing in the San Diego mayoral race.
I was initially undecided regarding which candidate I would personally endorse, and whether the Party should weigh in six months before the primary election. Following a great deal of introspection, conversations, and reading the opinions of others, I am at peace with the vote I will cast tonight.
I respect all three candidates for widely differing reasons:
TASHA: Tasha Williamson is all heart, passion, and commitment to community. She puts her body on the line in the fight for racial equity and criminal justice, and she is a gift to all of us who will listen to her perspectives. As a white woman, I will never experience what it is like to walk in Tasha’s shoes, but she is a damn fine communicator and expert in her life story, and we should follow her lead often.
BARBARA: Barbara Bry is a champion for women candidates and professionals, and she has paved the way for increased access and success for many. I have found her to be approachable, warm and responsive to her district.
TODD: I have observed Todd Gloria’s political career since he was first elected to San Diego City Council in 2008 and worked collaboratively with Councilmember Donna Frye. During his first year in office, Environmental groups held a little event to commemorate the release of the Environmental Report Card. Donna Frye received an A+ and he’d received an A-. He said: “I’m a very competitive person, and next year it’ll be an A+!”
Because he has a record of more than a decade of public service, we all likely have experienced decisions he has made as Councilmember, City Council President, Interim Mayor, and Assemblymember that at times disappoint and at others are cause for accolades and celebration. This is to be expected of any and all of the people in our lives, including elected officials. Politics is complicated (so shocking). He took the time to sit down with me last weekend to talk through my thoughts and concerns, which I appreciate.
Regarding Tasha, this race is a phenomenal opportunity to elevate awareness and identify solutions for the underserved and often maligned and marginalized community members who are her self-assigned care. I do not believe she can mobilize City of San Diego voters to elect her to the Mayor’s seat in 2020. I do believe she will use this candidacy and platform to create meaningful, lasting change and run for local office in the future as a better-known community advocate.
Regarding Barbara, I have been bitterly disappointed in a handful of her City Council votes and in several of her statements on the campaign trail. Frankly, some of her positions have come as a complete shock. It is not a crime to be homeless. It should not be a crime to sleep in one’s car. While her inhumane vote on this issue may appease some La Jolla voters, I do not want this inhumane approach to homelessness from the most powerful local elected leader in the greater San Diego region.
We have a dire lack of affordable housing and we are in climate crisis. As a Board Member with the Cleveland National Forest Foundation for more than a decade, I have advocated for increased housing density and redevelopment within the urban core.
We need housing. We need it on transit corridors. We need to complete the light rail network and supplement it with additional bus services. We need to build it with a local, skilled and trained labor force at rates that sustain working families. We need leaders who will lead decisively on this even when it’s unpopular.
We *do* need to exercise wisdom and nuance in the application of more generous redevelopment/new housing development policies. We *do* need to extract public amenities where there are public impacts. We *do* need to incentivize development near transit resources. There are already going to be building height restrictions within the Coastal Zone. We must reject fear mongering rhetoric that seeks to hinder progress.
Barbara’s campaign consultant is Tom Shepard, the same consultant who worked for Carlsbad’s Republican Mayor Matt Hall. Her most inflammatory positions have been anti-housing and anti-growth. In white, privileged, coastal communities, these positions inherently include racially divisive meaning: “We can’t build affordable housing here. ‘Those’ people will move in and change our community character.”
Such exclusionary, fear-based rhetoric is how we elected Trump. No thank you. Send a message to Tom Shepard that rejects his divisive, tired, racist and classist Republican electoral tactics. I am deeply disappointed that Barbara walked down that path and continues to double down on it. It is not the path for San Diego’s best future.
Regarding Todd, there are several key reasons I have come to openly and freely support him for Mayor. He will advance policies that center the poorest San Diegans in the most neglected communities. He faced political retribution for increasing the local minimum wage and sick days. He has been a strong advocate and partner for effective regional solutions to homelessness.
Todd proactively and resourcefully stood with the Barrio Logan community and the efforts of the Environmental Health Coalition to protect the residents from ongoing sources of air pollution, where the air quality continues to be of statewide concern and children still have exponentially higher rates of asthma compared to other regions of the City. His leadership at that time was a beacon of hope for a community that very much needs powerful allies. I trust him to help usher in a meaningful Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.
While I was disappointed in some of his prior votes at SANDAG, I know that behind the scenes under the control of Gary Gallegos, Board Members were harangued by attorneys who tied their hands if they attempted to break with prior roads-centric RTPs. Gallagos is now gone, and it’s a new day. The City of San Diego controls 40% of the weighted vote at SANDAG, and together with amazing Democrats finding their voices and using their votes to promote regional transit-driven solutions, Todd Gloria, the new ED, and the Board will be equipped to transform our region for the better.
Given Bry’s anti-growth campaign statements, the thought of her being the most powerful Board Member at SANDAG concerns me.
It’s our job as committed Democrats, in many cases elected to make decisions as Democrat leaders (or their alternates), to refine and carry out the vision of the Party in local elections. We know these candidates and their records intimately. San Diego’s next Mayor will be stepping into office at a critical moment in history. We *finally* have courageous, effective leadership at SANDAG. We have an engaged, increasingly educated public that largely recognizes that change must come or we won’t have a future. These Democrats will all still be on the March primary ballot and may successfully reach the public to communicate their vision, but we can decide today if there is a clear best candidate.
The distinctions on issues I care most about are clear, and I trust Todd to lead.