Tomorrow is Election Day in District 4, and it matters. While this City Council race has garnered very little attention in San Diego as a whole and will certainly be a low turnout affair, the stakes are actually quite high. Indeed, the direction of the city is on the line.
As Doug Porter noted last week, outside money has been pouring into District 4 attacking Myrtle Cole. Why? Because Cole is the only candidate who will stand firmly behind Bob Filner’s agenda and buck the powerful moneyed interests that are bent on subverting the mayor.
Who’s behind the attacks? San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform, a shadowy group that has been funded by the usual suspects: developers, downtown business groups, and the Lincoln Club. Those same folks are backing Cole’s opponent, Barry Pollard, and even fellow progressive Dwayne Crenshaw has taken money from Robert Gleason of Atlas Hotels (and a key figure in the TMD struggle against Filner) as well as Rural/Metro Corporation whose contract with San Diego for paramedic services will soon come up for renewal. In addition to this, sources close to the campaign tell me that Cole is the only candidate that has not met with the Lincoln Club, which should tell you all you need to know.
Thus, it’s pretty simple: if you want to help Mayor Filner fight to break the stranglehold of downtown moneyed interests over our city government, vote for Myrtle Cole. If you want the kind of Democrats that folded like a cheap tent when Walmart threatened them and are in bed with the hoteliers, support one of her opponents.
Filner defeated Carl DeMaio by uniting a historic coalition of labor and community groups that was able to beat the big money that has long served as this city’s private government. Their response to this defeat has been to immediately work to demonize and undermine Filner and do everything they can to kill his mayoralty before it even has a chance. If big money succeeds in defeating Cole, the importance of Filner’s victory will be greatly diminished as he will be further isolated and far more politically vulnerable.
The struggle over the TMD is a proxy battle in this war as is this City Council race. Sadly, fellow Democrat, councilman Todd Gloria, has done much to aid the enemies of real change in San Diego. It has been truly disheartening to watch Gloria join hands with the City Attorney and big hoteliers to oppose the mayor. With friends like him, progressive San Diegans don’t need enemies.
Hence, it is absolutely crucial that we send Filner a strong ally on the City Council. Pollard is the choice of the old guard, the other candidates are simply not viable, and the backing Crenshaw has received from Gleason should disqualify him. The homophobic attacks on his candidacy are clearly reprehensible, and I strongly condemn them as has Myrtle Cole, but they don’t negate how problematic Crenshaw’s Gleason backing is in the current political context.
Given all this, Myrtle Cole is the clear choice. A Democrat with deep roots in the district, a solid progressive platform, and an admirable background in labor and the community, Cole will stand strongly behind Mayor Filner’s agenda of putting neighborhoods first and fighting for good jobs with living wages. As anyone who is acquainted with San Diego’s history knows, it will be hard to push back against the private interests that are vehemently committed to keeping their grip on power by any means necessary. Thus their enemy in this race, Cole, is the right person for the job.