The first ever Voice of San Diego Politifest took place Saturday at Liberty Station. About 1500 people showed up, including seven candidates for the Mayor’s job in San Diego.
The Lincoln-Douglass style debate was okay, except that it was hard to hear the candidates who a) didn’t know how to orate and b) were unlucky enough to have a plane fly over while they were speaking. Generally, the major candidates (Filner & Fletcher) showed more poise and communicated better than the wannabes. There was no discernable “winner” or “loser” here.
A couple of memorable quotes:
“It’s time to change the water in the City’s bong”. — Perennial candidate Point Loma Loch David Crane
“Let’s solve our pension problems without throwing our City employees under the bus.” –Congressman Bob Filner
Music from Sade’s “Smooth Operator” drowned out Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher’s speech… (that’s what’s on the tape!)
“I’m here to empower women.” –Rob Harter, furniture store owner & candidate.
“I think I’ll pass on that.” – unknown woman standing near our table.
Patty Jones & I showed up early for the event, which was, logistically speaking, very well organized. Stages were set, tables were laid out, signage was plentiful and there were volunteers in black VOSD tee-shirts scurrying everywhere. The OB Rag lucked out: our table was at the front of the area designated for groups, right next to the “free lunch for volunteers” setup and with an unobstructed view of the main stage.
Or so we thought, until a couple of elderly Tea Party types dragged their own table across the grass and plopped down right in front of us. (I really didn’t care what group they were with: I wanted to protect our prime estate. How right wing of me.) Eventually, the helpful volunteers from Voice of San Diego explained to them that they were expected to sign up in advance and gently re-located them off to the side.
Frank Gormlie rolled in shortly thereafter and nodded patiently as I told him about moving the offending table. He was like, “Dude, they’re not tea partiers, they’re from a ‘pro-constitution’ group. I was like, “Dude, look at the stuff on their table”. Moments later Frank was engaging in a heated debate with the old ladies.
Lots of interesting people cruised by as the day went on. Congressman Filner came by and thanked us for the semi-critical article I’d written a couple of weeks earlier. He seemed sincere and friendly.
Thing didn’t go so well when political strategist (and Port Commissioner) Bob Nelson cruised by… I thought for sure that he remembered me from some education reform meetings we jointly attended earlier this year, but I was w.r.o.n.g.. Wanting to break the ice, I whipped out a parody version of a Carl DeMaio for Mayor bumper sticker prototype, hoping to get a laugh… eeeehhh…. He literally ran away upon spotting the word “DeMaio”. Ooops.
There was a lot to do, and cruising the other groups was almost as fun as meeting folks at ours. The “Great Ideas” competition seemed like a great idea, but in practice it was tedious and difficult to follow despite the enthusiasm of many of the participants. I think it might have worked better in another venue… like a TV studio. Kudos to City Beat for the Mayoral Debate Bingo Cards: unfortunately we couldn’t really use them due to sound quality issues. (And I would have lost anyway, because the words “Cat Tax” were never gonna come up at debate that Carl DeMaio was too busy to attend.)