The UCSD Guardian’s Guide to Voting In San Diego: Local Elections

This article is part of a new UCSD Guardian series on the 2020 United States elections. We will be discussing registration, state propositions, and various elections from the local to federal level. Tune in every Tuesday on Facebook or Instagram to see the latest article.

As election day nears, many are focused on the presidential race, however, local elections in San Diego County are just as important. Some of the major seats up for election this year are for mayor of the city of San Diego, City Council positions in Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, and positions on the board of supervisors in Districts 1, 2 and 3. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom made an executive order to send all registered voters in California vote-by-mail ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election. According to the San Diego Registrar of Voters, in-person polling locations will also be available and open from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3. 

The UC San Diego campus houses a number of in-person polling locations. To find out more information on how to register to vote in this election, visit the UCSD Guardian’s guide to voting in San Diego. Registered voters in San Diego county will have a number of candidates to select from, depending on the voting address

The UCSD Guardian will focus on City Council District 1 and the Board of Supervisors District 3 as those districts cover La Jolla and San Diego proper. To look at the specific district maps, visit the San Diego Registrar of Voters tool

The Mayoral Race

While local elections are nonpartisan, as individuals do not officially run with party labels, this year’s mayoral candidates consist of two Democrats: City Councilmember Barbara Bry and California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria. This will signify a change in party influence for the mayor of San Diego as Republican incumbent Kevin Faulconer, has become ineligible to run due to term limits. 

According to a San Diego Union-Tribune/ 10News SurveyUSA poll with a sample size of 600 adults from the city of San Diego released Tuesday Sep. 1, Councilmember Bry and Assemblymember Gloria are close in the polls. Councilmember Bry leads Assemblymember Gloria 37 to 34 percent, but her lead is within the poll’s 5.3 percent margin of error, and 29 percent are still undecided.

City Councilmember Barbara Bry has been serving as the representative for District 1 since December 2016, and has served as Council President Pro Tem since December 2017. She also worked at UCSD for 10 years, between 1986 to 1996 as the associate director of CONNECT. In an interview with the UCSD Guardian, she said that she is running on a platform that focuses on the economy, housing and homelessness, and public safety. 

“I ran for city council in 2016 because I was frustrated that the street in front of my office was being torn up again and again to have the same work done,” Bry said. “I got to city hall and found a culture of corruption, where there was no accountability, no transparency, and where major decisions were made behind closed doors. I am running for mayor to bring accountability and transparency to city hall, to make city hall work for our residents, particularly our neighborhoods.”

California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria has been serving as the representative for the 78th Assembly District, which includes much of San Diego, since 2016, represented District 3 on the city council from 2008 to 2016, and served as council president from 2012 to 2014. Gloria told the UCSD Guardian that his platform was one of ending housing and homelessness, increased public transportation and increased affordability for working and middle-class San Diegans, while being mindful of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. 

“I am a native San Diegan, a third generation San Diegan,” Gloria said. “I am running for mayor because I am the son of a maid and a gardener, which means I know how hard it is to make ends meet in a town as expensive as San Diego. I am very concerned that we are increasingly becoming a city that is just for the very wealthy who can afford to live here and the very poor who are trapped here. I’d like to be a mayor that makes sure that housing is affordable for working and middle-class San Diegans.”

The City Council

City Council District 1 also has two Democratic candidates, Joe LaCava, a civil engineer and public policy consultant, and Will Moore, a lawyer. 

Joe LaCava has lived in La Jolla since 1985 and graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“I envision a city run by leaders who spend less time on soundbites and photo ops and, instead, deliver promised public facilities and infrastructure to our neighborhoods,” LaCava said. “I envision a city that spends less time strangled by endless debates and focuses on addressing the challenges facing our city; making housing more affordable to more San Diegans and achieving a diversified workforce in the green, blue and hi-tech companies.” 

Will Moore is a small business attorney and graduated from Columbia Law School with a Juris Doctor degree.

“I’m running to reform our city government so that it responds to the people, not the lobbyists and special interests,” Moore said. “That’s why I’ve proposed a slate of ethics reforms to close loopholes that let lobbyists hide who they are and who is paying them. I am running for city council because today’s decisions become tomorrow’s successes.”

The Board of Supervisors 

The board of supervisors District 3 race could flip the board’s Republican majority to Democratic. Incumbent Republican candidate Kristin Gaspar is running against Democratic candidate Terra Lawson-Remer, a former senior advisor in the Obama administration. The race will determine the political leaning of the board.

Supervisor Kristin Gaspar has represented District 3 on the board since 2016, after having served four years on the Encinitas City Council and as the first elected mayor of Encinitas. 

“When I ran, I promised to focus on the things that matter most to each of us in our communities,” Gaspar said. “Since taking office, I have worked to help those who are most vulnerable in our society — the elderly, the formerly incarcerated, those struggling with mental health or addiction, and our homeless population, while protecting taxpayers and keeping our communities safe.”

Democratic candidate Terra Lawson-Remer is a third generation San Diegan, and worked as a senior advisor in the Obama administration to develop economic policies to cut pollution from oil drilling and mining.

“Terra puts public health first. She will listen to county health officials, expand coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and mount an evidence-based pandemic response,” Lawson-Remer’s website states. “Terra is the only supervisor candidate committed to defending the Affordable Care Act and ensuring access to healthcare for every San Diegan.”

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors historically has Republican majorities, so many Democrats now see District 3 as an opportunity to change that. 

“Democrats who have so long been excluded from having the majority in the County Board of Supervisors, even in a county that’s been blue, in the last several elections, have been eyeing this opportunity,” UCSD Political Science Chair Thad Kousser said in an interview with NBC7 San Diego.

City Attorney 

The city attorney race sees incumbent Mara Elliott up against attorney Cory Briggs

City Attorney Mara Elliott was elected in 2016, and was the first woman and first Latina to be elected into the position. She was a first generation college student, earning her bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Barbara and her Juris Doctor degree at McGeorge School of Law. Her track record as city attorney includes issues on preventing gun violence, fighting for victims of abuse, and holding big corporations accountable.

Attorney Cory Briggs has lived in San Diego since the 1990s, earning his bachelor’s degree at UC Riverside and his Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law after passing the bar exam in 1995. 

“I am running both to restore the role of the city attorney’s office to giving straight-up, non-political legal advice to the mayor and city council so they can do what’s in their constituents’ best interests; and overall to improve the public’s confidence in government,” Briggs’s website states. “I have done my best from outside city hall. It’s now time for me to give San Diegans my best efforts from the inside.”

According to a study published by Tuft University, the rate of voting by college students has doubled from 2014 to 2018. Voter turnout increased from 16.2 percent in 2014 to 36.1 percent in 2018 among undergraduate students, and increased from 27.6 percent in 2014 to 46.4 percent in 2018 among graduate students. 

UCSD has greatly increased its efforts to encourage students to vote, with the new Civic Engagement Office under Associated Students. In California, students can register to vote until Nov. 3 on the California state website.

Photo courtesy of Yui Kita for the UCSD Guardian.

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