There was a hundred people in the audience at last night’s “debate” between the candidates for the District 2 council seat hosted by the OB Town Council. It wasn’t so much an actual debate inside the Masonic Center as it was an opportunity for residents of the district to ask questions of the candidates.
Three of the four candidates did show up; Sarah Boot, Jim Morrison and Mark Schwartz. Lorie Zapf couldn’t make it so sent her campaign manager, Sara Kamjab, to give a brief introduction. Kamjab explained that Zapf had committed long ago to being the speaker at a major Mira Mesa community fundraiser, however Town Council president Gretchen Newsom commented that the Council had offered an alternative date for the debate, but that the Zapf campaign declined to accept that one also.
Sarah Boot was first, and almost immediately was praising the community of Ocean Beach.
“I love the strong sense of community here,” she said. “I want to fight for Ocean Beach and the other communities neglected for too long.”
Boot – a lawyer – explained that she has been a federal prosecutor and also worked in the private sector. She also was the president of the Feminist Bar Association. She said she wanted to “stand up to cronyism and waste” – citing the Balboa Park Centennial Committee fiasco as an example of both. Another example of waste, she said, was her main opponent Zapf’s taking a $800 a month car allowance whereas no one else on the council does that. Boot closed her into by saying she wanted to enhance public safety and wanted to put neighborhoods first over downtown interests.
Up next was Jim Morrison, a community leader of Pacific Beach. He stated that he been active for over 15 years on the PB planning committee and Pacific Beach Town Council.
“I went to OB Elementary and lived in OB,” Morrison said, describing his local roots.
“I’ve run for council five times,” he said – and wants to enact policies to “bolster the middle class” and “make San Diego like LA as an economic hub.”
Mark Schwartz got up before the audience and immediately declared that “I’m an advocate for freedom and liberty,” and that “liberty is the absence of government control.”
Clearly a proud conservative libertarian, Schwartz said he has been endorsed by the Libertarian Party. He stands for “property rights” and limits on taxation. “Your property rights are affected by the tourism industry,” explaining its importance to San Diego. His goal, he said, is to “root out cronyism and waste” – echoing Boot’s emphasis – and used as examples the “green lights” in street lamps and that Ace Parking has a near monopoly on city parking.
Schwartz said he was also an advocate for drinking beer or a glass of wine “responsibly” at the beach, railing against “government nanny-ism and authoritarianism taking over our lives.”
Lori Zapf Rep
Sara Kamicab stood up and gave a very brief intro on her boss Lori Zapf. (Lori Zapf currently sits on the City Council representing District 6, but after District boundaries were redrawn in 2011, she found herself in District 2.)
Questions From the Audience
President Newsom then allowed audience members to pepper the candidates with inquiries. First up, was a question about the candidates’ priorities for infrastructure for Ocean Beach, asked by this writer.
Sarah Boot answered that a new library for OB was at top of her list, but also the community needed a new lifeguard station, and that t he streets need work. She has received lots of complaints from residents, she said, going door-to-door, about the streets being torn up after being fixed. She offered a data base mix with the technology, which alerts different municipal departments to street repairs in order to coordinate. Boot also stated that “climate change is a scary truth,” that has to be dealt with on the city-level.
Jim Morrison rattled off similar priorities; library, lifeguard station, rec center and streets. “I’ve looked at the Rec Center – it really needs some work,” he said.
Mark Schwartz stated that infrastructure is tied into tax liabilities. He’s an advocate for privatization he said, and that he wants to root out unfair contract bidding. He asked why can’t we put non-violent inmates to work in repairing the streets. “We can teach criminals to fill pot holes,” he said. In response to environmental concerns, Schwartz threw out at the audience: “climate change is a scare tactic.”
In a question about “linkage fees” Schwartz declined to answer as he didn’t know what it referred to. Boot explained that she did support affordable housing linkage fee and outlined it recent history.
A question about how to support changes in education, Morrison wanted to lobby Sacramento, and Schwartz wants the voucher system.
Asked straight out about their stances on gay marriage and civil rights, Schwartz responded that “It’s your body,” and that he absolutely supports gay marriage. Morrison is for it gay rights and explained that one of his first influences in life was a gay man; Boot said that she’s been a “strong advocate for equal rights,” and supports gay marriage absolutely as well. Boot commented that Lorie Zapf had in the past stated that “homosexuality is a sin” and wondered if she had changed her position.
Nothing new was uttered in the non-debate by the candidates in their closing remarks.
In the end, this was the first chance for village locals to get a closer look at those individuals who wish to represent the entire District 2. There were also some folks from the other beach neighborhoods as well.
Why didn’t Zapf appear? Her explanation falls somewhat flat as she was also offered an alternate date in April. Her no-show does follow a Republican pattern of not attending forums or debates within “enemy” terrority. OB is seen by GOP strategists as “too liberal” to spend any time in, so big-time Republican candidates diss OB. During the recent mayoral race, candidate and Republican (and now mayor) Kevin Faulconer didn’t show either for a OB Town Council debate.