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Why Should Sherri Lightner Stand Down?

If Councilwoman Sherri Lightner wants to be City Council president, she has every right to pursue it.

It seems pretty clear that San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner is all in on a surprising bid to become the first woman to serve as Council president.

Council President Todd Gloria has served in this role for two years. He has earned major praise for his leadership, particularly during the time when the role of Council president was artificially enhanced to “interim mayor” after Bob Filner resigned in disgrace.

Scott Lewis on Politics LogoBehind the scenes, as NBC 7 San Diego’s Wendy Fry first noted, Republicans on the City Council are gearing up to potentially throw their four votes behind Lightner to elevate her to Council president. And Council president is no symbolic prize. The person in that role controls the Council agenda with almost as much power as the mayor had less than a decade ago, before the city switched its government structure.

This is being treated with utter shock by progressives. CityBeat plainly told Lightner to “stand down.”

From what I can tell, this is the thrust of CityBeat’s argument:

If she’s truly on board for a more progressive San Diego, she needs to realize that Gloria continuing as council president is the best outcome. While he hasn’t always been successful, losing battles over affordable-housing funding and planning for Barrio Logan, we don’t think it was because of him.

Yes, this move is a stunner. Nobody made a bigger deal of getting Lightner through her re-election campaign than Gloria. And that was at a time when labor and others remained deeply frustrated with her lack of total commitment on controversial issues. Republicans and their allies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to oust her in favor of her rival, Ray Ellis.

That she would join forces with them is definitely a surprise.

But loyalty works both ways. She obviously has a different view of government and the city’s priorities than Gloria. Perhaps she wants to get different things done in the next two years than Gloria does.

CityBeat even made that case:

If Lightner’s considering this, we can understand why. (She didn’t respond to Fry’s request for comment or ours.) Like most politicians who have thoughts in their heads, she probably has her own ideas about how to move the city forward, and as president, she’d have two years (assuming the council gives her a second year) to pursue an agenda and leave a larger legacy.

I’m not exactly clear on why she has to put those interests aside. And I think it brings up uncomfortable questions about her having to defer to the current leader, a man who’s had a turn.

If she’s able to appeal to more of her colleagues than he is, well, that’s what this particular question is all about.

I asked April Boling, a local number cruncher, Republican and fan of Lightner, why Republicans find her appealing. She is, after all, often on the opposite side of things like minimum wage, affordable housing fees and other polarizing issues.

“Because of her engineering background, she looks at things analytically. On some topics, a spreadsheet can provide a wealth of information and she isn’t afraid of receiving information that way,” Boling said in an email.

Lightner has her fans. I’m not sure what she owes Gloria — or anyone else for that matter.

I definitely understand the appeal of Gloria. He has shined in his role and has major potential.

But this is a race to win over their colleagues. I can’t wait to see what happens. Let the best (wo?)man win.

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