City council divided after vote on Mayor Faulconer’s special election proposal
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The Faulconer Administration came to office emphasizing the theme of One San Diego: Bringing people together to get things done.
That theme was fractured in the past week and a half as compromise at City Hall gave way to fierce political partisanship over a special election for Convention Center expansion and SoccerCity.
The council killed the mayor’s hard fought attempt to get Convention Center expansion to the ballot this November. Instead, what he did was provoke and unify the Democrats to speak with one voice in opposition.
This return to partisan division began when the council cut the funds the mayor put in his budget for a special election. The Republican mayor vetoed the cut and put the money back in the budget, in part, by cutting the budgets of councilmembers Barbara Bry and Chris Ward, two Democrats who were angered at being targeted.
"The mayor penalized two council members. I represent District 1, and Chris Ward who represents District 3 because we were against his Convention Center Measure and SoccerCity," Councilmember Bry said.
Councilmember Chris Ward was a bit more blunt in his comments warning his Democrat colleagues to take notice.
"We must be mindful that any one of us can be a target of deliberate retaliation. This sets a precedent for the future," Councilmember Ward said.
Republicans are also unified, standing with their mayor. Councilmember Mark Kersey didn’t see the cuts as retaliation because council district budgets are not equal.
"If the budgets had started out equal and the Mayor had then stacked them to be not equal, I would be voting to override that veto," Kersey said.
Nevertheless, there were no cuts in Republican council districts. Councilmember Chris Cate downplayed the criticism, saying harsh, personal comments often happen during heated debates on big issues, indicating the partisanship will subside.
"When we come back to council chambers next week, we’re gonna be in agreement on issues that are going to be the focus of each of the neighborhoods that we represent," Councilmember Cate said.
But the session on Monday will not be about neighborhoods. It’s about putting the SoccerCity initiative on the ballot in November.
The Democrats failed to muster enough votes to cut the funds for a special election, but they do have the votes to also kill SoccerCity if they choose.
Only five votes are needed and there are five Democrats.
SoccerCity investor Nick Stone is not optimistic.
"The way people should be thinking about this is a vote on behalf of the city council to kill the initiative. The special election, part of the initiative on Monday, is really a vote on behalf of the city council to kill the project," Stone said.
There are two options before the council. One: Adopt the SoccerCity initiative outright or two: Reject it and set a date for a special election.
Whether that’s November or sometime next year, this initiative will go to the ballot.