Changing the balance of power at San Diego City Hall
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – In what some saw as a surprise upset, Republican Lorie Zapf lost her race Tuesday to retain her seat on the San Diego City Council in District 2. The winner was Democrat Jennifer Campbell, a retired doctor who lives in Clairemont. Campbell’s election sets the stage for a shift in power. 6 of the 9 council seats will be held by Democrats, giving the Democrats a super majority, and the power to override a veto by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Taxpayer advocate Richard Rider said the tilt to a more Democratic council occurred with the influence of the city’s labor unions. In the District 2 race, organized labor spent a lot of money on negative mailers, attacking Zapf as a politician aligned with President Trump. The strategy may have been effective in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 3 to 2.
Rider said that public labor unions have always had a say in elections. By boosting one candidate as an ally of labor, Rider said unionized city workers, including police and firefighters are in a better position when it comes to getting work on some city projects and in negotiating pay and benefits with the city. “It ends up being a bidding contest and the person who will best represent the union’s interests, which is understandable actually, is the person they will back,” Rider said.
Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders who is now the President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce said the changing political landscape puts pressure on both sides to work together as collaborators. Sanders did not believe that the influence of the city’s labor unions should be regarded as a negative. “We work with them collaboratively on a number of issues, for example Measure G or SDSU West – we were in a coalition with labor. On the Convention Center expansion, we were in a coalition with labor,” Sanders said. He said labor and business groups should identify the big projects that benefit San Diego, “and then you work together on the outcome of them. i think it creates trust.”