OB Rag’s Progressive City, County and State Ballot Recommendations for November 2020

by on October 5, 2020 · 12 comments

in California, Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Here are the OB Rag 2020 Election recommendations. Basically, we took Doug Porter’s recommendations – which we generally agree with – but reversed three of his recommendations. We recommend a “No” on Measure E which would erase the 30 foot height limit in the Midway District. We recommend Barbara Bry for Mayor and in the toss-up for City Attorney for San Diego, we recommend incumbent Mara Elliott. But thanks to Doug, who did a lot of research work, most of the other candidates and proposals we agree with are also outlined below.

San Diego Ballot Measures

Measure A
General Obligation Bonds for Affordable Housing

This measure requires a two thirds majority to pass. Either we want to build housing for people who can’t afford it or we don’t. The Homeless Industrial Complex can get people clean and sober all they want; the magic hand of the market will force people back on the street. And as the NIMBYs in La Mesa showed us recently, converting motels has a very limited future.

It takes money to build housing and this measure is designed to attract the kind of matching funds (in the billions, with a B) needed. The payments on bonds sold to build housing will be made with a measured increase (starting at $3 per $100,000 annually) in property taxes.

Carl DeMaio and his merry band of mailing list builders are already sounding the alarm. “Homelessness is not about housing” sez Carl. Apparently tent cities and hepatitis epidemics are good for property values. Who knew?

Here’s a downloadable Fact Sheet for those of you who require details. FYI- I am a homeowner, so, yes, more taxes will come out of my pocket, a price I’m willing to pay for the greater good. What a concept!

Supporters: Yes on A
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

Opponents: Carl Demaio/Reform California; County Republican Party
Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Measure B
Charter Amendments Establishing Commission on Police Practices

It has taken decades to get the local establishment to begin to accept the notion that -just maybe- the police should not police themselves. Maybe it’s all the scandals; maybe it’s the millions the City pays out in lawsuit settlements; or maybe the city council is tired of being played for fools with the so-called benign requests made on behalf of the SDPD.

Measure B means a theoretically independent body will have the tools it needs to at least look at evidence. What ends up happening with that evidence is, unfortunately, still in the hands of those entities still hiding behind the Blue Curtain.

But, hey, it’s a start. So let’s do this and hope the good intentions of the city council are real when it comes to creating a Commission on Police Practices.

In case I haven’t made it clear, a vote for Measure B should be considered a moral imperative.  

San Diegans for Justice
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

There is no organized opposition to Measure B 

Measure C
District-Only Elections for School Board Members

Candidates for school board will be elected by voters in the district they seek to represent.

This is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario. It takes big bucks to run for school board –a not-really-part time job– with chump change for pay. Running for office in just one district is cheaper, and eliminates the hassle of concerned citizens (usually wealthy) from other neighborhoods having an outsized say on who gets to sit on the school board.

That independence comes with a price. Right now we all get to vote for all the board members; voting for just one means we have no say in who the other four are.

There are no websites or social media concerning this measure, however:
The Arguments for Measure C  are worth reading as are the Arguments Against

I’m voting FOR measure C because I believe district elections are a better form of democracy. 

Measure D
Procedures to Remove School Board Members for Cause and To Fill Vacancies

So what happens when we get a really bad apple on the school board? Right now, not much. When the city Charter’s language about removing elected officials was updated in the wake of the Mayor Grabby-Grabby scandal, school district officials got left out.

Ooops! School board member Kevin Beiser was credibly accused (a legal case was settled) by multiple people of sexual misconduct and refused to resign. Everybody–his fellow board members, the political parties, the parents, and the teachers–wanted him gone. He’s still there!

Moving forward, if D passes (it will), a supermajority of the school board could call for a special removal election if a board member is convicted of a serious crime, is found to be physically or mentally incapacitated or if there has been a dereliction of duty.

There is no opposition to Measure D, nor have any arguments against it been filed with the City Clerk.

Measure E
Removing 30-foot Height Limit in Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Area

The 30-foot height limit has been in place since 1972, when voters from across the city overwhelmingly approved the citizens’ initiative, Proposition D, to prohibit structures higher than 30 feet west of Interstate 5, excluding downtown. City planners and developers have always opposed the height limit and have worked for decades to undermine it. Measure E is their latest effort and they convinced Councilwoman Jen Campbell to sponsor the measure – and now there’s a recall effort against her. Proponents claim since the Midway has no coastal views, it should never have been included in the area covered. But the original measure was never about simply coastal views, but about access, quality of life issues and it was a citizen-led effort to curtail uncontrolled over-development. Measure E is another San Diego public land give-away and does NOT assure affordable housing if it passes.

According to John McNab, president of Save Our Access:

“Our opponents did not want the public to know that Prop. E would pave the way for massive public land giveaways including MCRD.  We oppose this scheme to convert public land in the Coastal Area into a dense wall of high-rise development without a major park and open space. The added traffic would block access to beach communities.”

Here are ballot arguments against it.

Supporters: San Diegans for Midway Revitalization – Yes on E
Website | Endorsements | Text of Measure

City of San Diego


Incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer is termed out

Barbara Bry (Democrat)

This is not a great choice. Barbara Bry or Todd Gloria. Gloria supporters paint her as anti-gay (she’s not), anti-homeless (she’s not) and falsely claim she’s responsible for bringing federal troops into cities this past summer (a ridiculous claim, but it’s being made by Gloria). But, let’s look at who has endorsed Bry:

  • Father Joe Carroll – San Diego Hero and Advocate for Homeless Residents and Families;
  • Geneviéve Jones-Wright, Esq. – Criminal Justice Reform Advocate;
  • Donna Frye – Former San Diego City Councilmember, Environmental Leader, and Open Government Advocate;
  • Run Women Run – Run Women Run inspires, recruits, trains, mentors and supports pro-choice women for elected and appointed office; Bry was is co-founder.
  • Save San Diego Neighborhoods – A grassroots nonprofit corporation

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Todd Gloria (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Todd Gloria would make a horrible mayor – (although not as bad as Faulconer has been.) Todd comes across as a really nice guy, but he brings a lot of baggage and support from developers and corporations.

 San Diego City Attorney

Mara Elliott (Incumbent Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

This is another toss-up race for Democrats and progressives. Neither are perfect, but at least Elliott is a known quality. Briggs would make a horrible city attorney. He has spent his past years suing government and other agencies, and does not know what it means to be accountable to the public. One cannot govern through law suits. Briggs even sued the Business Improvement District council and has forced them to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees. Regular lawyers really don’t like the so-called “public-interest” lawyers, who by law are allowed to collect huge fees when they sue entities and win. But they remain unaccountable. San Diego has had a couple like that and it didn’t work out very pretty.


Cory Briggs (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

San Diego City Council Races

City Council District 1
Incumbent Barbara Bry is running for Mayor 

Joe LaCava (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Will Moore (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

I’m old enough to remember when Republicans ran and sometimes won in this district. Those days are behind us now, and we have another Dem on Dem contest. Democrats have a 19.49% registration advantage in the district, which typically has an 80%+ voter turnout in Presidential election years.

Frankly, either candidate could do the job of effectively representing the constituents of D1. I looked back at all the articles posted here on this contest, and I’ve got nothing. On paper, LaCava is the more progressive of the two. Moore, on the other hand, frequently speaks of not trying the same approaches that have failed over the years.

I’d vote for LaCava if I lived in the district, probably because I’ve met him more times.

City Council District 3
Incumbent Councilmember Chris Ward is running for State Assembly.

Toni Duran (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Stephen Whitburn (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

This is my district, and I didn’t vote for either of these candidates in the primary. Toni Duran comes from the Toni Atkins sisterhood of politics (a grouping that I just made up), having worked with her in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Stephen Whitburn has unsuccessfully run for office twice. From the point of view of much of the city’s Democratic establishment, he’s paid his dues and earned the right to win this seat.

Once again, there isn’t that much difference between the two candidates. I like Toni Duran because I feel she’d do a better job for the neighborhood, and because she’s been willing (on social media, anyway) to speak on issues about the world at large.

City Council District 5
Incumbent Councilmember Mark Kersey is termed out.

Marni Von Wilpert (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Joe Leventhal (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Republicans have gone all in on this race in the hope that voters won’t like the idea of an 8-1 partisan divide on the City Council. And because Attorney Joe Leventhal comes across as a reasonable human being. Anybody who loves baseball and doesn’t retweet QAnon misinformation can’t be all bad. (You gotta admit that’s a pretty low bar, but that’s where we are these days.)

What makes this a challenge for the GOP are the same issues they have everywhere else. Voter registration numbers for Republicans are sagging, Democrats are ascendent, and willing to crawl over broken glass to vote against Donald Trump.

Marni von Wilpert works for the city attorney’s office and has a demonstrable record of social justice success, having founded a legal clinic, with the Mississippi Center for Justice, to combat discrimination, assist people living with HIV/AIDS and help people lift themselves out of poverty. 

I’ve seen her spiel, and she’s knowledgeable about local issues, displays a real sense of compassion, and is also somebody you’d not want to cross. She’s got the kind of drive it takes to be a successful council representative.

City Council District 7
Incumbent Scott Sherman is termed out.

Raul Campillo (Democrat) 
Website | Facebook | Twitter

This is another city council district where Republicans have lost their advantage in voter registration in recent years.

The Democratic candidate, Raul Campillo is currently a Deputy City Attorney who came back to San Diego via Harvard Law along with the Clinton and Obama campaigns. He’s gained the support of just about all the elements of the Democratic Party, and has the aura of somebody who could go far in politics. The loss of his brother to opioid related causes was a motivator in his decision to get into the public service arena.

Republicans have an interesting candidate. Noli Zosa is a founder of the Dirty Birds wings restaurants, and prolific volunteer for city boards and commissions. His claim to fame arose from his leadership of an effort to save one of the last remaining roller shaking rinks in the region. Support from the city’s growing Asian-American population, along with the city’s Republican leaders has given him a high profile and a decent sized war chest.

He certainly looked like a reasonable candidate to me when I was researching him until I went to visit his Twitter feed: the account has been suspended. Since Twitter is free, it wasn’t for non-payment. And if you follow social media like I do, you know it must have been something really bad, cause getting bounced off twitter as an individual takes some work.

I think I’d go with the fresh face from Harvard Law if I was voting in D7.

Noli Zosa (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

City Council District 9
(Incumbent Councilwoman Georgette Gomez is running for Congress)

Sean Elo -Rivera (Democrat)
Website | Facebook| Twitter

Well, isn’t this a hot mess. Ballots are headed to the post office and the guy with the most connections in this race has dropped out.

Kelvin Barrios suspended his campaign following a series of revelations about his relationships with money. He’s under investigation by the County District Attorney’s office, and his big money backer, the union he works for (Laborers International Union of North America) pulled the plug.

Barrios received the most votes in the March primary, and had most of the local Democratic establishment behind him until a series of articles revealed some questionable practices.

And, because his name is on the ballot, if Barrios gets the most votes in the general election, he’ll be declared the winner.

Ugh. This means you shouldn’t just write this contest off.

Community College Trustee Sean Elo-Rivera is a fine candidate for the job. In fact, I was planning on endorsing him in this guide. He says he wants to transform San Diego from “America’s Finest City” for some to a world-class city for all.

So don’t skip past this guy if he appears on your ballot. San Diego has enough embarrassments to deal with without having Barrios on the City Council.

Kelvin Barrios (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

State of California Ballot Propositions

Proposition 14
Authorizes Bonds to Continue Funding Stem Cell and Other Medical Research

Californians are being asked by science types to renew support for stem cell research funding via the issuance of $5.5 billion in bonds over a ten year period. Payments from the General Fund will be $310 million annually for a period of up to 25 years.

Four years ago I would have bought into the argument against this, which holds that the federal government should take the lead. Now I fear the flat earthers in DC have done so much damage that hedging our bets seems like a good idea. And did I mention that San Diego’s research institutions are huge beneficiaries of this funding stream, with UCSD alone taking in $233,326,284?

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 14
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Initiative

There is no organized opposition to Proposition 14. 

Proposition 15
Property Tax Rates on Commercial and Industrial Land

Quick! Hide your children! The split roll meanies are hoping to change the way property taxes are assessed on commercial properties worth more than $3 million.

Those meanies say the 10% of the businesses paying 90% of the revenue this measure would raise would be providing a stable funding stream for communities and schools.

Obviously any talk of changes in property taxes in California means it’s time for the people who don’t believe in government to run the Save Proposition 13 flag up the pole.

The restructuring of CA’s property taxes by conservative interests in 1978 was about much more than protecting homeowners. The underlying idea was to starve government of resources, allowing privileged corporate landowners to accumulate wealth without having to fully fund the common resources they used.

Let’s fix this, already.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Schools and Communities First–Yes on Prop 15
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Initiative

Opponents: No on Prop 15 – Stop Higher Property Taxes and Save Prop 13
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

Proposition 16
An amendment to the Constitution of the State, repealing Section 31 of Article I relating to government preferences.

Do Black Lives Really Matter? How about Brown lives?  Why the heck are so many white people concerned about having something “taken” from them?

Back in the bad old days of CA Gov. Pete Wilson’s genteel racism (well, it looks that way now compared to Trump) the GOP got everybody worked up about “them people” taking advantage of white folk. So they created Proposition 209, which asked state institutions to ignore the economic, moral, and psychic deprivation inflicted on people of color.

Prop 16 will repeal 209. This is a direct result of political actions and discussions about systemic racism happening nationally. If passed, California would no longer be one of the nine states banning affirmative action as a tool to fight discrimination. And no, this doesn’t have anything to do with quotas; it just says you can’t pretend race doesn’t exist.

The opponents of Prop 16 are big on promoting a belief in meritocracy, a construct that cannot co-exist with inequality. Think about it. Achieving success based solely on one’s efforts could only exist in a theoretically communist society.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters:  Opportunity for All Coalition
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

Opponents: Californians for Equal Rights
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

Proposition 17
Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment

If Prop 17 passes roughly 50,000 Californians who have completed their prison term will have their right to vote restored. Approximately half of all industrialized nations do not have any voter disenfranchisement at all. Of those that do, disenfranchisement is almost always limited to a person’s incarceration.

The people who are offended by all the criminal justice reforms that have been approved by voters would like you to know they’re opposed to Prop 17. I’m personally sure their resistance has everything to do with the racial and ethnic makeup of the people who would be voting.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Free the Vote
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Text of Measure |

There is no formal opposition to Prop 17

Proposition 18
Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment 

Just say yes to first-time voters participating in a full election cycle (i.e primary & special elections) provided that they are 18 by the time of the general election.

The same people who think Donald Trump is a great president are muttering about the lack of emotional development in younger people. They haven’t put their money where their mouth is.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 18 – Vote for Our Future
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

There is no formal opposition to Prop 18

California Proposition 19: 
Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Constitutional Amendment

This is the real estate industry’s idea of reforming property taxes. They’ve been trying to get something passed to boost downsizing boomer home sales. This time around they added a sweetener that would give any increase in revenue to fighting wildfires. These folks are spending upwards of $40 million to sell this scheme.

I hate to say this, but I’m standing with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association on this one.  This is a clear abuse of the California initiative system, even if a conveniently placed lawmaker got it placed on the ballot after polling showed the language on petitions wasn’t working with voters.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 19 Vote
Website | Facebook | Twitter Endorsements | Text of Measure

Proposition 20
Restricts Parole for Non-Violent Offenders. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors. Initiative Statute

Here’s another attempt by law enforcement types to roll back reforms overwhelmingly passed by California voters over the past decade. Longer prison terms, diminished access to parole, and more DNA samples are their solution to the generally lower crime rates we’re suffering through these days.

Expect a bunch of scary tv ads chock full of people with darker skin and menacing tattoos warning the world about what will happen if Prop 20 isn’t passed.

Just say no to the prison-industrial complex by voting NO on 20.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 20: Protect Victims of Violent Crime
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Proposition

Opposition: No on 20 – Stop the Prison Spending Scam
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

Proposition 21
Expands Local Governments’ Authority To Enact Rent Control On Residential Property.

Didn’t we vote on this back in 2018? Why, yes, we did. And it lost. Because people perceived it wasn’t fair. Now we have a slightly revised version before us in 2020, sponsored and opposed by the same people who brought us the concept two years ago.

The core part of this proposition is that local governments would be able to adopt rent control laws on housing units, except on (a) housing that was first occupied within the last 15 years and (b) units owned by persons who own no more than two single-family homes,or condos. (and a few other things).

The small time property owners who will be the face of the opposition’s advertising aren’t the ones who should be worried. It’s the private equity groups and corporate landlords who continue to buy up vast swatches of housing that need to be concerned.

The rent is too damn high. Maybe the pandemic will change public opinion. I’ll vote yes on principle, but won’t be surprised to see this one lose, given the incredible differences in money backing each side.

Also, can we get a law that says the same issue can’t be on the ballot two elections in a row?

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 21
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

Opposition: No on 21
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements 

Proposition 22
Changes Employment Classification Rules for App-based Transportation and Delivery Drivers

This is the biggie in the 2020 election for Californians. A ballot measure written by three companies for their own benefit is buying ads about “freedom” for their workers.

Rather than do the right thing, these companies are spending nearly $200 million to get their way. Regardless of how you feel about the independent contractors vs employees debate, consider three very ugly elements included in this law before you decide to vote on it.

  • Prop 22 means that consumers cannot hold -based transportation (rideshare) and delivery companies liable if they are injured while using these services.
  • This measure only applies to workers in the specific fields used by the companies who funded it. Talk of including other professions is simply bs. because expanding or changing provisions in the act would require a ? vote of the legislature.
  • The “freedom” that comes along with being classified as an independent contractor ultimately undoes the social safety net. That’s why the rest of us are paying for Uber/Lyft worker’s unemployment insurance during the pandemic. And the companies pushing this thinking want it that way.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on Prop 22 | Save App based Jobs and Services
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsers | Text of Measure

Opposition: Sick of Gig Greed – No on Prop 22
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsers 

Proposition 23
Authorizes State Regulation of Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Establishes Minimum Staffing and Other Requirements. 

Oy! Another repeat of something we thought was decided in the last election.

The dialysis business is a poster child for everything that’s wrong with for-profit healthcare, and business is booming as Americans under-exercise and overeat their way into Type 2 Diabetes in a big way. It’s super profitable and not on the public’s radar as a bad player.

It’s safe to say this measure started out as an union-based attempt to get the two corporate players with a near monopoly in the dialysis industry to the bargaining table. It’s equality safe to say that management’s response vis-a-vis this measure is to threaten to make things worse for patients by closing down clinics.

Let’s pass it. Closing down clinics (which they won’t do) will just give impetus to making healthcare for all as a right the law of the land. And then, maybe, these clinics will be replaced by entities that put patients first.

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Kidney Patients Deserve Better
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Text of Measure 

Opposition: Stop the Dangerous & Costly Dialysis Proposition
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsers

Proposition 24
Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative

Everybody wants more privacy, right? Aren’t we all getting sick and tired of living in an economy where the sale of data about our personal business is the biggest driver of corporate profits?

Not long ago, the state legislature passed California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). Parts of it didn’t go into effect until this past July. It’s the cat’s meow of domestic privacy laws mostly because there aren’t other states that have taken this step.

Now, the backers of Prop 24 want to toughen up the law and make it less likely for lobbyists to whittle away at its protections. Sounds great, huh? Except maybe not. Smart people can’t agree on what the technical language in this 52 page law actually does.

Enough people I respect in the privacy protection world have raised their eyebrows on this to make me wonder… The best I’ve heard is that it’s a mixed bag. The ACLU and the League of Women Voters have turned thumbs down on Prop 24.

While California’s role as a leader in setting the pace for reigning in the excesses of certain industries is commendable, I have to think this is really more of a role for the federal government, (should we have one in the future).

Ultimately what would be really fabulous for a privacy act to enable would be a nice fat check in my mailbox paying me for the value my personal data creates. 

Longer analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Californians for Consumer Privacy
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

Opponents: Californians for Real Privacy
No Social Media

Proposition 25 
Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum

Part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s criminal justice reform agenda was the elimination of cash bail for many (but not all) crimes. SB10 passed the legislature and was signed into law. The bail bond industry gathered signatures for a referendum and a hold was put on the law going into effect.

The bail vs risk assessment (the use of algorithms to help judges decide on whether or not defendants will show up in court) business is problematic in several ways.

The algorithms are only as good as the people who write them, and  –surprise!– there are apparently a few people in the law enforcement and prosecution fields that are racist.

Bail, on the other hand, is inherently racist and classist. People with generational wealth can pay their way out of jail while awaiting trial. Poorer people in the exact same legal circumstances, with the same statistical likelihood to appear — or not appear — for trial cannot afford to pay their way out.

And the bail bond industry is hiding behind a veneer of being small business enterprises. The real money in the business comes from the insurance companies who underwrite bail bonds.

Let’s end this attempt to stifle a mostly good law by voting “yes” (we want the legislature’s effort to become law). And we need to insist on community involvement, more transparency and regular audits of any algorithms being used.

Longer Analysis if you insist.

Supporters: Yes on 25 #End Money Bail
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements | Text of Measure

Opposition: No on Prop 25
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

House of Representatives – District 49  

Mike Levin (Democratic Incumbent)
Website |Facebook | Twitter

 The 49th Congressional district has evolved away from being a Republican stronghold. Rep Levin has done a good job, fighting for veterans benefits and advocating for the environment. And, more to the point, he’s stayed engaged with his constituents via town halls.

His Republican opponent is unhappy about Levin’s unwillingness to appear in a debate. The old adage about wrestling with pigs applies here, and the Congressman is right to campaign on his service to the district.

Brian Maryott (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

House of Representatives – District 50  

Ammar Campa-Najjar (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

This is one of two Really Big Deal election contests in San Diego. (The other being getting rid of Sup. Kristin Gaspar)

It’s been an uphill climb for Campa-Najjar and yet he has persisted. He’s changed a bit since coming within spitting distance of Duncan Hunter in 2018; the rhetoric is toned down and he’s raised his profile as a do gooder in the East County.

Former Congressman Darrell Issa, operating on the premise of “if they liked a crook like Hunter, they’ll love me,” is the man to beat, if you look at voter registration in the district. He’s unbothered by collecting pandemic paycheck money for his real estate business while dumping millions into a political campaign.

A Democrat representing the 50th Congressional District would have been unthinkable just four years ago, yet here we are, with polling showing Campa-Najjar in a statistical dead heat. If he wins it will come down to two things: a big Democratic turnout in El Cajon/Escondido and enough Republican apathy about El Trumpo to make them lose interest.

Darrell Issa (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

House of Representatives – District 51  

Juan Vargas (Democratic Incumbent)
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Democrats have a 3 to 1 edge in voter registration in the 51st District. Vargas is an unindicted incumbent who hasn’t been caught paying off porno stars for sex. He –gasp!– usually votes in the best interests of his constituents. This is a repeat of the primary where hs opponent got less than 30% of the vote.

Juan M. Hidalgo, Jr (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Endorsements

House of Representatives – District 52  

Scott Peters (Democratic Incumbent)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Once upon a time, Republicans had a chance in D52. No more. Many of those previously reliable Republcan voters have no problem casting a ballot for a moderate Democrat like Peters. The Grand Old Party has moved on and left them behind.

An attempt from the (environmental) left to challenge Peters in the primary went nowhere.

In another time, I might have used this space to point out the disagreements I have with the incumbent Congressman’s track record. Not this year. He’ll hear plenty from me if and when a Blue Wave sweeps over DC and we need to get stuff done in a hurry.

Jim DeBello (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

House of Representatives – District 53  

Sarah Jacobs (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Georgette Gomez (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Incumbent Susan Davis is retiring. A cast of thousands appeared to show interest in running for the March Primary. In the end, it came down to two Democrats, both women whose ideological affinities were only slightly different.

You can’t talk about this contest without mentioning Sarah Jacobs money. From what I can see she’s used it wisely, getting her name out there and crafting an image of a caring person that we should send to Washington to fix things up. She’s obviously smart; represents a generational jump, and appears to want a life dedicated to public service.

What Sarah Jacobs has is panache. She believes she can do the job. I believe she could do the job. If she wins, and that is a strong possibility, I hope she doesn’t forget who she should be representing.

You can’t forget Georgette Gomez’s roots in the community. She’s been poor, been discriminated against, and seen the ugly reality of living in neglected neighborhoods.

Gomez has the support of virtually the entire institutional center-liberal-left in San Diego, not to mention a host of celebrity Democrats on the national stage. In an election where door-knocking was possible, I think she’d be unbeatable.

When it comes down to deciding who to vote for, what a candidate in a Dem-on-Dem contest will accomplish in Washington should be a primary consideration.

Let’s face it, Georgette got stuff done while she was on the City Council.

The activist gay Chicana got her colleagues to vote for her as president of the Council. A Republican Mayor pushed for her to head the Metro Transit System, and for the first time in years, good changes are happening there.

Good intentions aren’t trumped by good experience. I know there are some people who want to say Gomez’ time on the council has corrupted her. I disagree. While I could vote for Jacobs, I will vote for Georgette Gomez.

California State Senate District 39

Toni Atkins (Incumbent Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Toni Atkins is so well-liked as a politician in her district that the local Republicans couldn’t find anybody willing to run against her in March. Eventually, a write-in candidate emerged. Atkins received 91% of the vote in the primary.

She’s a woman who’s risen through the ranks and made a lot of allies. She’s willing to take on aspirational causes (healthcare for all in California, for instance) and sweat the details while the legislative process grinds on.

Linda Blankenship (Republican)
Website | Facebook  

California State Assembly – District 75

Marie Waldron (Incumbent Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Waldron is one of the few Republicans in San Diego with a sense of job security. She has a high profile as minority leader of the State Assembly and name recognition from her years on the Escondido City Council.  Furthermore, she’s an incumbent in a +5% Republican district with a hefty war chest.

That said, she’s a Republican, caters to the gun nutz and wannabe handmaiden movement, and is stuck in the Trump cult silo for now. The North County is changing, but not fast enough to send Waldron packing.

Karen “Kate” Schwartz (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

California State Assembly – District 76

Tasha Boerner Horvath (Incumbent Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Her colleagues in Sacramento must really like Boerner-Horvath; they pitched in enough money to make her #2 in fundraising in the first half of the year to ensure she can keep her seat. As a rookie, she’s become Assistant Majority Whip in the Assembly, and by all the accounts I read and heard, become an effective legislator.

Melanie Burkholder (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

California State Assembly – District 77

Brian Maienschein (Democratic Incumbent)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

The former San Diego City Councilman did the right thing and switched parties right after the last election. Now he has all the advantages of incumbency, a fat war chest, and the support of an ascendent political party. Republicans are angry at him for being sane. Too bad; with Trump at the top of the ballot, Maienschein will benefit from Democrats who are saying “throw all the GOP scum out.”

June Yang Cutter (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

California State Assembly – District 78

Sarah Davis (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter 


Chris Ward (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

With the top two primary systems fully in place, D78 was always going to be a Dem vs Dem contest.

What we’ve got here is a novice politician (Davis) with a big heart and a lot of influence from Bernie Sanders’ school of thought. She’s smart, and benefitted early from voters who might have confused her with Congresswoman Susan Davis.

City Councilman Chris Ward wants a shot at Sacramento, and he’s likely to get it, based on the institutional support for his candidacy. His record at city council was a good as it could be without committing political suicide. And he’s got a rockin’ good staff, some of whom I assume will move on with him.

California State Assembly – District 79

Shirley Weber (Democratic Incumbent)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Not voting for Shirley Weber would be like saying you hate apple pie and ice cream. She’s a political icon, who’s taken on politically impossible causes she believed in and won a surprising amount of the time. She’s been named Person of the year by Union-Tribune, and Voice of the Year by Voice of San Diego.

The Republican running against her isn’t running very hard; she’s already beat him like a cheap carpet in two elections.

John Moore (Republican)

California State Assembly – District 80

Lorena Gonzalez ( Democratic Incumbent)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

This is without a doubt my favorite contest in San Diego, from a purely entertainment point of view. Gonzalez is moving on in 2022, having already declared for Secretary of State, and I’ll miss her fire in social media and energy for good causes on the local scene.

She is the legislator Republicans and their wing nut brethren love to hate. Her proposed legislation gets an automatic “job killer” stamp from the big business set, even when it has nothing to do with them. The anti-vaxxer crowd went nuts over her support for making it tougher to cheat the system. She told Elon Musk to fuck off when he was moving to open his factories early in the pandemic.

But the real biggie Gonzalez has taken on are the corporate overlords of the gig economy. She wrote a law that said most independent contractors are really employees. Cue the hornet nest: consisting of a never ending stream of people who thought making a living without paying for job protections was freedom.

These folks really are delusional, having been convinced that uprooting the social compact between labor and capital was a good thing. And then there are all the threats from keyboard warriors about how “the people” are gonna rise up and vote Gonzalez out of office. They’ve obviously never spent a day in D80.

John J. Vogel (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Superior Court Judicial Office #30

Tim Nader (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Judicial races are a bit of an oddity. The system is about as rigged as a system can be. Judges quit, governors appoint their replacements who then run as incumbents. A trial lawyer who runs against an incumbent may as well move to another state.

That said, there are occasional contests where there’s no incumbent and more to talk about than hold many people candidate A threw in the clink vs Candidate B.

Democrat Nader was Mayor of Chula Vista (91-94) and has served on the South Western Community College Board since 2010.  Was a Deputy Attorney General for the state of California and in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.

Sarita’s got the local GOP/Law enforcement clan on his side.

We need to end the ethos of “us vs them in law enforcement.” Vote Nader.

Paul Starita (Republican)
Website | Facebook  

San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Five people determine how San Diego’s safety net functions. Or doesn’t.

In California, County Supervisors function as administrative overseers, local legislators, and -in zoning matters– judicial decision makers. As the state mandated conduits for money coming from both the legislature and the federal government, roughly 80% of the money they spend  is earmarked in some fashion.

For decades, there has been a mold that Supes were supposed to fit into: White, conservative, and San Diego State alumni. A union-led movement to impose term limits and the collapse of the Republican party, along with changing demographics are bringing this era to an end.

No Republican made the cut in the contest in District One. Two Democrats are facing off, and regardless of who wins the seat will be occupied by somebody not cut from the usual cloth. And it will be brown, too, which is nice given that most people down that way also happen to be brown. I’ll give my seal of approval to Vargas, if for no other reason than she’s not part of the old school politics circles in the South County.

Nora Vargas (Democrat) 
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Ben Hueso (Democrat) 
Website | Twitter | Instagram

District Two is a Republican vs Republican contest to replace a termed out Republican. Poway Mayor Steve Vaus is the lesser of two evils; something about Anderson gives me the creeps. Maybe it was his “bitch slap” comment. Maybe it’s his cozy relationship to ALEC, a subsidiary of  the Koch Brothers empire, which cranks out fill-in-the-blanks legislation. I’m just grateful I don’t live in that district.

Joel Anderson (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Steve Vaus (Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter

District three is where the action is for 2020. Incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar is running in a district that’s turning bluer by the day. She’s tried to shed her fan-girl moments with President Trump and claiming that she’s the bi-partisan voice at the county building. That’s a pile of malarkey!

Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer has brought in the heavy artillery. Everybody acknowledges this contest will mean either be the start of a new day at the county building or more of the same.

Labor, environmentalists, neighborhood activists and even some Hollywood folk have backed her. She’s got the chops to do the job as evidenced by her campaign’s substance and style.

She would be a great Supervisor, and Republicans would be outnumbered on the Board.

Terra Lawson-Remer (Democrat)
Website | Facebook | Twitter


Kristin Gaspar (Incumbent Republican)
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb October 5, 2020 at 3:17 pm

When it comes to Measure C, I think back to the time when city council races were decided by the city-wide vote, not by district. It firmly entrenched the usual suspects in city hall and did not allow for any type of progressive candidates to succeed, with a few notable exceptions. The deck was really stacked in favor of the business-as-usual crowd.

When it comes to school boards, I’m not so sure. Unless a school board its employees are not either completely incompetent or downright corrupt (hey prominent south bay school board, don’t get your knickers in a twist!), the general population doesn’t really get much traction in getting to know the candidates and studying the issues, either in the school district as a whole or as the population of a subdistrict. There are, however, people who follow school boards very closely and I kinda think that letting those people who care enough to do so should be allowed to vote, even if not living in the right district.

I’d be really curious to see what Norma Damashack has to say about this. Anybody know how to contact her?


norma damashek October 6, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Wouldn’t it be nice if a change to the “system” would facilitate a better educational outcome for San Diego students! But I have serious doubts that a switch to district elections is the kind of change that will bring us closer to that goal.

District elections for the school board may seem like an intuitive fix, but a better alternative might be a switch to instant runoff voting. That’s a change that would encourage a much greater array of qualified school board candidates while alleviating much of the financial burden of running citywide.

It could go a longer way to creating a diverse school board that enables mutual support for focused funding and programs under the umbrella of a comprehensive and integrated educational agenda for students throughout the district. It would also avoid inevitable unintended consequences.

(btw-I reachable at nsdamashek@gmail.com)


GML October 5, 2020 at 9:57 pm

I still hate propositions. No normal person has enough time to properly understand each one in order to make an informed vote on them. That is why we have elected officials. Way too many people are going to vote based on the last (or best) commercials they viewed.

As far as Measure A is concerned, while there is definitely an issue that needs to be resolved, increasing my already ridiculous property taxes is not something I will support to fund it.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman October 6, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Re Measure C: I’m a former San Diego School Board member (1996-2004) who was elected twice on the present “split system” of district primary and city-wide general election. Those were famously expensive races, with big givers from both Business and Labor who were wrangling for political dominance in the arena of public education.

In my opinion, San Diegans will be smart to vote No on Measure C (District-only Elections for School Board Members.) We should keep the present “split” arrangement to keep trustees’ focus on education, not individual political opportunism. If “democracy” were the issue, we would strictly limit special interest campaign contributions and make sure that every School Board candidate had a viable qualified opponent every four years — two issues that are strategically ignored in Measure C’ and actually have never been addressed.

Under the present “split system,” every one of our five school board trustees is obligated to be responsible for every school in this large California urban district. If representation became indifferent in some neighborhoods, I or another colleague could step up on behalf of students, families or teachers in those forgotten schools. With the present “split system,” communities have back-up: five school trustees are accountable for every school, not just the single trustee in whose district the school is officially located.

District-only elections are neither more nor less “democratic,” but they are designed to create a narrow pathway for small-district candidates for school board to advance to higher political office. School board service is thus down-sized to political steppingstone. Voters who care about public education and voters with kids in these public schools deserve school board trustees who are committed to improving this town’s public education system and to realizing families’ hopes and dreams for their children. District-only Elections for School Board doesn’t touch that, so I hope people will Vote No on Measure C.


Frank Gormlie October 7, 2020 at 10:25 am

99.9% of the research and work on this list was done by Doug Porter, although he got 3 races wrong, and the published list here reflects those changes.


Mat Wahlstrom October 9, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Have to respectfully disagree regarding the City Attorney race. Each day reveals more evidence that Mara Elliott has been an unmitigated disaster for San Diego, and we will be paying more in settlements for her malfeasance than Cory Briggs has rightly won.

Regarding the BID lawsuit specifically, I happen to have unpleasant personal experience of what’s at stake, as Doug Porter wrote about it: “I’m taking liberties by excessively quoting Dorian Hargrove’s reporting here because this is a BIG deal. Some day the behind-the-scenes activities of some (not all) San Diego’s Business Improvement Districts will be revealed. What’s been lacking is proof, and Brigg’s lawsuits may lead to that day of reckoning.” https://sandiegofreepress.org/2014/11/a-hard-won-and-bittersweet-victory-for-san-diego-taxi-drivers/

It also bears mentioning that the same issue of “direct standing,” that the City has used to thwart that suit and the one against the Public Facilities Financing Authority and which was initially granted by the Court of Appeals: the California Supreme Court last December remanded it back for reconsideration. Don’t believe the Justices would do that if they agreed he’s not “accountable to the public.”


Frank Gormlie October 9, 2020 at 3:40 pm

KPBS: “Briggs brings his own set of problems. His private practice has been criticized for forming dozens of nonprofits and then suing on their behalf, stalling major projects and collecting attorney fees through largely anonymous groups that a 2015 inewsource investigation found repeatedly violate state and federal laws. Nearly five years later, most remain out of compliance. A few have racked up a thousand dollars or more in outstanding balances with the state Franchise Tax Board, others were ordered by the California Attorney General’s Office to cease and desist operations, and many have failed for years to file required documents with the secretary of state. And while he’s won big cases, Briggs has lost, too. When the city tries to collect financial judgments from Briggs’ nonprofit clients, he claims they have no money.”



Geoff Page October 26, 2020 at 10:34 am

I’m with you on this one, Mat. Elliott has shown that she has political ambition more than anything else, meaning she is in lock step with the city’s establishment. Briggs has gone afte4r the city many times. Yes, he has a checkered past but at least we can be sure he will not be absorbed into the development sponge that runs the city.


Mat Wahlstrom October 9, 2020 at 2:51 pm

See “San Diegans for Open Government v. Public Facilities Financing Authority of The City of San Diego, Division SF, Case Number S245996, https://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/mainCaseScreen.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=2239355&doc_no=S245996&request_token=OCIwLSIkTkw2WyBJSCJdSENIQEw0UDxTJyNOIzNSXD9KCg%3D%3D


John Thickstun October 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm

La Prenza and Save San Diego Neighborhoods have endorsed Cory Briggs for City Attorney. Here, in addition to the fact Mara Elliott has become the tool of the San Diego insider career politicians and lobbyists club – for whom she is willing to mislead and outright lie to residents, are some of the reasons why.
“But someone in the City has the background and the courage to call the incumbent out for failing to protect the rights – and dollars – of taxpayers, and has a long history of winning legal challenges that may seem to insiders as frivolous, technical, or even nit-picky but have already saved us nearly one billion dollars.
Cory Briggs has stopped unlawful taxes for the Convention Center, challenged and overturned flawed local land use decisions, and exposed government agencies that denied the public complete transparency in their actions and decisions.
He has been criticized for suing government agencies – the City of San Diego in particular – more than anyone else ever, but he’s not given credit for how many times he has won and forced changes that have protected taxpayers, the environment, and the future of our city.”


Tom Griswold October 25, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Thanks for these recommendations. The additional insights that aren’t on the official voters guide are really helpful in making decisions.


Doug Blackwood October 26, 2020 at 2:01 pm

The “OB Rags”, rules with your voter guide ! Mahalo Rag staff!


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