The Engaged Voter’s Election Guide - Voice of San Diego

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The Engaged Voter’s Election Guide

We provide background and links on the biggest local and statewide races, all in one place.

 

You can’t put it off any longer. It’s time to head to the polls.

Whether you’re still wavering or just need a refresher, we’ve got a handy guide with plenty of details and links to stories about the candidates and propositions on Tuesday’s ballot.

The Mayor’s Race

City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Rep. Bob Filner are fighting to replace Mayor Jerry Sanders, who is being termed out of office.

DeMaio, a Republican, has put together specific plans to cut city spending and promote economic development; Filner, a Democrat, says he’d focus on neighborhood priorities and public services over developers and private interests.

Whoever is elected Tuesday will drive the city’s plans for the next four years because of the city’s strong-mayor form of government. Filner or DeMaio will become the San Diego’s second strong mayor.

Our Liam Dillon put together comprehensive guides on both DeMaio and Filner.

Check out our helpful scorecard that shows where the two stand on key issues and how their positions have changed.

We’ve also highlighted the most telling quotes from the campaign trail and compiled our Fact Checks of bold claims made during the mayor’s race.

Dillon also summed up the key takeaways from the nearly 30 mayoral debates.

City Council: District 1

The winner in the District 1 race won’t just represent northwestern San Diego residents. He or she will also determine whether conservatives or liberals dominate the city council.

If sitting Councilwoman Sherri Lightner comes out ahead, Democrats will be in the majority. If Republican challenger Ray Ellis unseats her, he’ll usher in a Republican majority.

Council races are generally considered nonpartisan but this one’s key because of the mayor’s dominance in the strong-mayor system. A council majority whose members’ views clash with those of the new mayor could translate into a stronger check on his agenda. A council with a majority that shares the mayor’s views could mean a clear vision for the city that becomes reality.

We put together a scorecard of the candidates’ views on key issues, including the city pension initiative and the proposed Regents Road Bridge.

In an overview of Tuesday’s top races, our Scott Lewis noted that Ellis and Lightner differ on surprisingly few policy issues but would bring vastly different approaches to the job.

We’ve also detailed some of the main issues in District 1 – which includes La Jolla, University City and Carmel Valley – as well as key endorsements and donations to both candidates.

52nd Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray and challenger Democrat Scott Peters are in a heated battle to represent the newly redrawn 52nd District, which includes most of San Diego.

Bilbray has focused on job creation and energy independence while Peters, a former San Diego Council president who now serves as a port commissioner, has touted his ability to reach across the aisle.

Last week, a SurveyUSA poll reported by KGTV-ABC found the two were tied in the district, which is split closely between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

That split has translated into lots of negative ads from national sources, a factor the Los Angeles Times highlighted in a recent story.

Last month, KPBS hosted a debate between the two candidates, which you can view here.

U-T San Diego also provided an overview of the race and the candidates’ positions.

Our Scott Lewis also noted that the results of the race will also reveal whether Peter’s support of a 2002 deal that kicked off the San Diego’s pension narrative will forever hamper his interest in a long-term political career.

State Senate District 39

State Sen. Christine Kehoe’s time in the state Senate is nearly over due to term limits and two veterans of the state legislature are vying to replace her.

Democrat Assemblyman Marty Block and former Republican Assemblyman George Plescia both hope to represent District 39, which includes the urban center of San Diego County.

This race hasn’t gotten much attention this cycle, though redistricting means the conservative Plescia has a better chance against Block than he might have had a few years ago.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the district’s increased contingent of independent voters and noted that Plescia, who was booted as state GOP leader “for not being confrontational enough” with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a more centrist image than others in his party.

Pomerado News talked to Block and Plescia about the issues that matter most to them and what they’d do if elected.

San Diego County Supervisor

Steve Danon and Dave Roberts each hope to be the first newcomer to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 16 years.

Danon is a Republican who previously served as chief of staff to Bilbray. Roberts, a Democrat, is deputy mayor of Solana Beach.

U-T San Diego recently documented each candidate’s positions. KPBS hosted a debate that you can watch here.

Our Scott Lewis also weighed in on this race, and others, here.

San Diego Unified School Board

San Diegans will also get a chance to pick two new school board members.

In a parent’s guide to the race, our Will Carless wrote that whoever is elected will have a lot of power to shape students’ futures.

Current board president and Sub-District A board member John Lee Evans hopes to win a second term but faces a challenge from former school administrator Mark Powell.

Evans, a child psychologist, was elected to the school board four years ago and has touted his track record as a reformer.

Powell talked to Carless about what he would bring to the post here.

Candidates Marne Foster, an educator at the San Diego Community College District, and Bill Ponder, a retired university administrator, are vying to replace current Sub-District E member Sheila Jackson, who is stepping down after eight years. Carless sat down with both Foster and Ponder to ask what they’d do if elected.

To learn more about the candidates’ positions, watch this debate we hosted back in September.

The ballot measures

• School bond: Proposition Z: The San Diego Unified School District is asking voters to approve a $2.8 billion bond to build new facilities, repair and upgrade current ones and pay for new technology in local schools.

If approved, homeowners in the district will pay another $60 a year for every $100,000 of their home’s assessed value.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association has been extremely critical of the proposal but the district says the bond is essential to continue upgrading dilapidated facilities, and ensure its day-to-day budget doesn’t take a severe hit.

We put together a guide to the proposition, as well as a breakdown of the criticisms.

VOSD’s Scott Lewis also noted something that’s been largely overlooked in heated debates about the proposed measure: Prop. Z will set aside an unprecedented amount for charter school facilities.

• Cash for education: Propositions 30 & 38: Dueling education propositions are competing for your vote.

Both would raise taxes and use the money for the schools but there are stark differences between the two.

Here’s our guide to both propositions and a separate explainer on the ultra-complex Prop. 30, which one finance expert called “the most complicated proposition I have ever read.”

Lewis and NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia also discussed the ballot items in a San Diego Explained segment.

• Budget reforms: Proposition 31: Prop. 31 would introduce a series of budget reforms in the state, including performance reviews of state programs and new limits on legislative power.

The Los Angeles Times put together a helpful overview.

The California Capitol Network detailed the arguments from supporters and detractors here.

KPBS featured some analysis of the pros and cons of the measure by a UC San Diego political science professor.

• Union dues for political causes: Proposition 32: Prop. 32 would prevent unions from using dues automatically withdrawn from members’ paychecks for political purposes.

The California Teachers Association and other unions are using time and significant cash to fight the proposition, as VOSD noted last month.

We asked a Prop. 32 supporter and an opponent to make their respective cases. You can read their arguments here and here.

• Car insurance changes: Proposition 33: Prop. 33 aims to make the state’s car insurance market more competitive by giving discounts to those who have maintained insurance for five years and penalizing those who haven’t. Its primary backer is George Joseph, the founder of Mercury Insurance Group.

A similar initiative, Prop. 17, failed two years ago and as KPBS notes, the newer version adds exceptions for the military, children living with parents and those who have lost their jobs.

The Los Angeles Times took a look at Joseph and his goals, as well as those of his top detractor.

• Law enforcement items: Propositions 34, 35 & 36: Voters will also get a chance to weigh in on a handful of law-and-order propositions this year.

Proposition 34 would end the death penalty in California. Proposition 35 would up the penalties for human trafficking. Proposition 36 would revise the “Three Strikes Law,” which requires a sentence of life in prison for a third felony conviction, even if the third crime was not considered violent or serious.

Read more in our Reader’s Guide to the three measures.

For more details on Prop. 34, check out this Sacramento Bee story. The Los Angeles Times also has helpful stories on Props. 35 and 36.

• Labels for genetically modified foods: Proposition 37: Backers of this ballot item say grocery shoppers have a right to know if that cereal or corn they’re buying contains genetically modified ingredients.

Those opposed to the measure, including food giants such as General Mills and Monsanto, argue that the proposition will hike grocery bills and increase state bureaucracy.

Our guide to Prop. 37 highlighted the San Diegans with a stake in the potential new law.

The Los Angeles Times has more details in this voters’ guide.

• Tax breaks for multistate corporations: Proposition 39: Voters will also determine whether multistate corporations that sell products in California but do most of their business elsewhere should continue to get tax breaks.

U-T San Diego covered the key arguments from Prop. 39 backers and detractors; the Sacramento Bee focused on a less-discussed portion of the proposition that would provide a half-billion dollars annually for energy upgrades at schools and government offices.

State Senate redistricting: Proposition 40: Early last month, an Orange County Register headline referred to Prop. 40 as “confusing; abandoned; still on the ballot.”

It’s all true.

Last year, a group of Republicans was concerned they’d lose state Senate seats in newly formed districts created by an independent redistricting commission, so they backed Prop. 40 in hopes of retaining the original maps.

But then the state Supreme Court ordered California election officials to use the new maps, a move the GOP said rendered Prop. 40 useless.

That’s where the confusion begins. The item was never removed from the ballot.

So although Prop. 40 is a referendum, a “yes” vote upholds the newly drawn maps and a “no” vote would force the state to go back to the drawing board.

This KPBS story includes more details on that oddity, and concerns that Californians could inadvertently vote the wrong way.

Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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