By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press
The dust hasn’t settled from the February special election, but the jockeying for a soon-to-be-open position on the San Diego City Council in District 2 is getting into high gear.
Run Women Run, the non-partisan group advocating for increased female participation in electoral politics, announced their support for Gretchen Newsom as the interim appointee this morning. Let the politicking begin!
Kevin Faulconer’s ascendancy to the city’s top job in March will leave his seat on the city council open. Within 30 days after he takes the oath of office the remaining council members are tasked with appointing a replacement who by law cannot then run for re-election for that seat.
There are four candidates (that I am aware) of vying for the job: Ed Harris (Life Guard) , Don Mullin (Former Chief of staff for Marti Emerald), Gretchen Newsome (OB Town Council President), and Howard Wayne (Former Assemblyman). Since the campaigning in this situation is largely out of public view, today I’ll take a quick look look at those seeking the position.
The political consensus around San Diego is that this appointment will go to a Democrat, given their majority status on the city council. As should be obvious from the most recent campaigns, there are lots of competing interests within that party.
An article in this week’s City Beat about the challenges facing the Mayor-elect points out that “registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in eight of the nine City Council districts” and “there are four City Council districts where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 30 percent (Districts 3, 4, 8 and 9, all south of Interstate 8)”.
Ed Harris was instrumental in a decision by area lifeguards back in 2009 to split from the Municipal Employees Association and establish the San Diego Lifeguard Association, which is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Last year he gave active consideration to running in District 2 to replace the termed out Faulconer, but folded his campaign on the day it was supposed to launch, announcing his support for Sarah Boot, now considered the Democratic front-runner in the race.
Activist Bryan Peace opposed the candidacy, claiming Harris’ past statements and actions about the La Jolla seals, along with other stances they consider anti-environmental, made him a poor choice.
Management consultant Don Mullen is former chief of staff to Councilwoman Marti Emerald. He also worked for her predecessor, Jim Madaffer, and District 2 Councilman Michael Zucchet. He has been involved with the LGBT Victory Campaign, a group that works to support the campaigns of out candidates.
Word on the street is that, while Mullen could be a popular choice, he’ll have a hard time getting the vote of District 4’s Myrtle Cole. Mullen was instrumental in supporting Dwayne Crenshaw’s campaign against the councilwoman. Crenshaw is suing Cole for defamation stemming from charges made in a campaign mailer.
Gretchen Kinney Newsom’s interest in the job was piqued after Frank Gormlie at the OB Rag ran a speculative article about potential candidates for the job. In addition to her position as OB Town Council President, she works as Principal and Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs at LeSar Development Consultants (LDC).
The LaSar in the company name just happens to be Toni Atkins’ significant other, which might (or might not) indicate lots of good local connections. For an OB Rag profile of Newsome, go here. Newsom has also been active in campaigning D2 candidate Sarah Boot. And the support of Run Women Run gives her candidacy a strong boost.
Howard Wayne served three term in the California Assembly (1996-2002), and in 2010 actively campaigned for the District 6 council vacated by termed out Donna Frye. He lost to Lori Zapf. Sources in the local organized labor movement tell me that Wayne has been working hard to cultivate their support.
Here’s where this gets tricky. Lori Zapf is now running in District 2 in the November election because redistricting moved her residence outside the boundaries of D6. Whoever is appointed to replace Faulconer must live within the boundaries of the district as it was constituted prior to redistricting.
Wayne may have a residency problem. A couple of months back he hosted the Uptown Democratic Club Holiday Party at his Linda Vista home (not in D2). There is, I’m told, a flyer out there inviting people to attend the function at “Howard Wayne’s home.” For purposes of this appointment he’s trying to claim D2 residency based upon a rental property he owns at the beach. Like I said, this may be a problem. And then again it might not be. Politics, y’ know.
The above is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column “The Starting Line”; see the rest of it here.