Mayor Faulconer, city officials react to rejection of special election funds

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday he would use his veto power to overturn the City Council’s decision to reject the $5 million budgeted for a November special election.  

The City Council Monday — in an 8 to 1 vote — rejected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to hold a special election in November, which likely would have included ballot measures on a proposed expansion of the convention center and a planned redevelopment of Qualcomm Stadium.

Mayor Faulconer said he would use his veto power to override the decision.

"I intend to use my veto authority to restore the special election funding, while still retaining the added funding for our police, so the City Council can take an up-or-down vote on these urgent ballot measures," Faulconer said in a statement. 

Read Mayor Faulconer statement in full:

“A City Council majority is supporting the unprecedented step of blocking a public election by stripping funding from the budget. This short-sighted move results in denying the public a vote and getting nothing accomplished for our city.

The City Council majority wants to make San Diegans wait for more road repairs, wait to address the homeless crisis, wait to bring back tourism jobs, and jeopardize a chance to get a major league sports franchise.

I intend to use my veto authority to restore the special election funding, while still retaining the added funding for our police, so the City Council can take an up-or-down vote on these urgent ballot measures.

The City Council should not ignore these time-sensitive issues – and give San Diegans the opportunity to vote this year.”

The City Council voted to approve the overall $3.6 billion budget, but four Councilmembers — Chris Cate, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf — expressed their strong support for funding the special election.

The City Charter requires a supermajority of the City Council – six of nine votes – to override a mayoral veto.

Nick Stone, project manager for Goal SD, issued the following statement regarding the rejected vote. 

We, of course, are disappointed with this decision because it ignores the will of the 112,000 San Diegans who signed our petition and who desperately want the opportunity to vote on SoccerCity this year when it matters. 

However, given the mayor’s announced veto, we look forward to giving the city council an opportunity to make a decision that matters on June 19th. 

We will continue to forcefully make the case about how important it is that the council give San Diegans the ability to vote on a plan that provides so many public benefits while costing taxpayers nothing. 

Councilmember Chris Cate said in a statement that he supports the mayor’s use of veto to to restore the special election funding.

“I supported this budget because it reflects many of the priorities District 6 families believe are most important to them. The budget funds our public safety officers, and prioritizes funding for our City’s infrastructure. Furthermore, it is time the City address its police retention and recruitment crisis, which is why I will be advocating for an increase to the police officer salaries next year.”

“It is unfortunate the adoption of a $3 billion dollar budget was overshadowed by the rhetoric surrounding a proposal that has yet to receive a full public vetting before the City Council. I believe it would have been prudent to set aside the funding for a special election today, and deliberate about the merits of a November special election at a future date. That is why I support the Mayor’s decision to use his veto power, and restore special election funding, so we may have a full discussion in the coming weeks.”

The Public Land, Public Vote Coalition released the following statement on the San Diego City Council’s decision to remove $5 million in funding for a needless special election:

“The Public Land, Public Vote Coalition is pleased that the San Diego City Council decided to remove a line item from the Fiscal Year 2018 budget that would fund an unnecessary special election on the SoccerCity initiative. This decision honors the will of San Diego voters, who overwhelmingly approved a measure last fall that directs the Council to only schedule local measures for the next November general election. The future of this valuable piece of undeveloped taxpayer land is the kind of decision that ought to be made when the largest number of voters participate, not in a special election when only a small fraction of voters participate. Additionally, a 2018 election on the FS Investors proposal would give the City time to move forward with an open and transparent process for soliciting competing proposals, which more than 60 percent of voters support, according to last week’s San Diego Union-Tribune poll.

“While today was certainly a victory, we recognize that this fight is far from over. We hope the City Council will stand their ground going forward and reject any attempts by FS Investors to fund a special election, since allowing FS Investors to effectively ‘buy’ an election date that suits their political needs violates the spirit of Measure L.”

Related Link: Special election vote for SoccerCity, convention center expansion at stake

Councilmember Sherman issued the following statement regarding the budget vote:

“For the first time in recent memory, San Diegans are being denied their right to vote on a certified citizens’ initiative.  A handful of Councilmembers have decided they are smarter than San Diego voters and effectively killed SoccerCity through budgetary maneuvers to please union bosses and special interests. Today’s actions by the City Council are absolutely shameful.

While overall this is a good budget, I will not support anything that takes away the rights of voters.”

Carlos Cota, IATSE Representative and Executive Board member of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Central Labor Council, issued the following statement:

“Expanding the San Diego Convention Center remains a top priority of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. For the past 10 years, IATSE and the affiliates of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council have worked with the Convention Center Board on smart strategy to enhance our world-class venue and create good, local jobs.

“A project of this magnitude needs to get done right. We commend the City Council for showing leadership today by not jeopardizing this important project by rushing to the finish line only to come up short because key elements were not yet in place.

“We’re pleased the Council respected local democracy and the wishes of voters who overwhelmingly supported Measures K and L.  The City Council gave San Diego time to build something that our city can be proud of while leaving no one behind. We look forward to working with the Council, the mayor, and our community partners on projects that produce middle-class jobs for San Diegans, respect the will of the voters, and empower local communities to have input regarding the future of our city.”

Councilmember Alvarez issued the following statement:

“I am proud to join my colleagues to pass a balanced budget that fixes the deep flaws in the Mayor’s proposed budget.

The Mayor wanted to waste $5 million on an unnecessary special election, even while he proposed deep cuts to the San Diego Police Department.

The City Council made a different choice.  We reversed the Mayor’s proposed cut to police overtime and added millions more to ensure that we have enough police officers on patrol.  We restored funding for arts and culture programs, funded reserves and much needed homeless programs.”

Budget Review Committee Chair Barbara Bry issued the following statement: 

Today, my colleagues and I adopted a fiscally responsible FY 2018 Budget that sustains essential neighborhood services. This budget enhances public safety, restores funding for the arts, designates funding for the implementation of the Climate Action Plan, and supports many other important City services. While we were faced with difficult decisions in this challenging fiscal year, a fair and transparent budget review process grounded in community input has led us to a sound and balanced budget. We could not have finalized this budget without the diligent work of my colleagues on the Budget Review Committee, the Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, Financial Management, all City Departments, and most importantly, the engaged San Diegans who made their voices heard.

I commend my colleagues for joining me in voting to eliminate the proposed $5 million dollars from the FY 2018 Budget to fund a special election and for reallocating these funds to fill critical gaps. With this decision, we are upholding the will of the San Diego voters who overwhelmingly turned out to pass Measure L, which requires citizens’ initiatives and referendum measures to be placed on the General Election ballot when voter turnout is significantly higher. 

Categories: Local San Diego News