Mayor, council races could shake up San Diego politics

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – San Diegans will decide two major races Tuesday but face
four possible outcomes that could impact the direction of city government.

In the mayor's race, Councilman Carl DeMaio, a driving force behind
voter-approved Proposition B and efforts to cut what he calls wasteful
municipal spending, faces Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, who derives much of his
backing from organized labor, which opposed the pension reform initiative.

Voters in the northwestern part of the city will decide whether to
retain incumbent Councilwoman Sherri Lightner or replace her with businessman
Ray Ellis. If Lightner wins, Democrats will keep control of the officially
nonpartisan body. An Ellis victory would give Republicans a 5-4 majority.

“There's a couple of possibilities, right? You get a Democratic or
Republican mayor with a like-minded City Council, or another combination that's
off-kilter,” said T.J. Zane, CEO of the Lincoln Club of San Diego County.

How much of an impact any one of those combinations has will provide
drama after the new mayor and council members are inaugurated Dec. 3.

The City Council with its current Democratic majority largely avoided
partisanship under the direction of Tony Young, and its members have worked
collaboratively with Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, to pass fiscal changes
and end the structural deficit.

However, the campaign season has seen city politicians line up behind
candidates of the same stripe.

At a news conference Thursday, Democratic council members lined up to
support Lightner against what they believe are misleading attack mailers sent
by the Ellis campaign, while GOP members did not attend.

The mayor's race has also seen barbs flying back and forth.

“It's the nastiest campaign I've seen in 25 years,” said San Diego
political consultant John Dadian, who is not affiliated with any of the four
candidates. He said many of the claims by the candidates have had to be
retracted or “smoothed over,” with the campaigns “shooting from the hip.”

However, he said the City Council result is probably more important for
the city's balance of power than the mayor's race.

“No matter who is in the mayor's office, the council is a check and
balance,” Dadian said. “If they are in the same party, there is no check and
balance.”

Gridlock could be the result if the mayor and City Council are aligned
with different parties, he said.

Democrats hold a citywide registration advantage of 40 percent to 27
percent over Republicans, with about 28 percent declining to state, according
to the most recent figures from the county Registrar of Voters.

In Lightner's District 1, Democrats lead by almost 3,000 registered
voters out of more than 79,000.

Historically, however, Republicans have been able to overcome the
registration disadvantage in San Diego and get elected to citywide office. San
Diego voters haven't chosen a Democrat for mayor since Maureen O'Connor in
1988.

Categories: KUSI