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VOSD Podcast: Special Election Hits a Wall

Hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts talk about the seemingly insurmountable challenges standing in the way of the mayor’s tax hike proposal and SoccerCity, the plan to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site. Also: Omar Passons on his transition from politically engaged citizen to political candidate.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to hold a special election in November, but this week opposition to the idea came out in force.

The special election ballot would likely include the mayor’s proposal to hike the hotel tax to pay for a Convention Center expansion and increased homeless services and road repairs, plus the SoccerCity proposal to redevelop Qualcomm Stadium.

One this week’s podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts talked about the seemingly insurmountable challenges standing in the way of the two proposals.

Just over the past few days, City Council members Chris Ward, Barbara Bry and David Alvarez all explained why they don’t think either proposal meets the requirements for holding an expensive special election this year. (Councilman Scott Sherman, meanwhile, affirmed his support for a special election.)

Measure L, which voters overwhelmingly passed in November, set a high bar for calling a special election, essentially saying city leaders shouldn’t ever put a measure on the ballot outside of a general election unless there’s an extraordinary exception.

More people show up to vote during general elections, so opponents of a special election say the mayor’s pitch goes against the will of San Diego voters.

“It’s fascinating watching this happening right in front of our eyes,” Lewis said of Measure L’s impact. “This is literally the tip of the spear right now.”

An Engaged Citizen Runs for Office

Omar Passons is a local attorney who, for years, has been engaged as an activist and thought leader who often publicly voices his opinions on some of the region’s biggest political issues.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Photo by Sam Hodgson

He joined the podcast this week to talk about his transition to political candidate — he’s running for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors.

Passons detailed his decision to run as a Democrat, his personal background and said he’s championing “universal access to high-quality child care and preschool for every child in San Diego County.”

Passons also said the county could be doing more to tackle the region’s housing crisis. He said county supervisors should be more actively involved in building subsidized, affordable homes.

“That’s an example of something where, if we are going to address homelessness in a meaningful way, part of what we need to do is to is to actually spend the money as an entity on building some of those modest homes,” he said.

Also on the podcast, Lewis and Keatts bemoan the lack of politicians willing to boldly champion the legal marijuana movement, they give an update on Lincoln High School’s search for a principal and Keatts shares details about a poll he took that’s floating the idea of a 2 percent hotel tax increase that would only fund housing and homeless services.

Hero of the Week

The San Diege city attorney’s office gets the accolades this week for scoring a a $6 million state grant to fund its innovative Community Justice Initiative, a program that allows chronic, non-violent criminals with drug problems to avoid incarceration.

Goat of the Week

The Union-Tribne found that Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his aides met with SoccerCity investors 25 times between last January 2016 and this February. It’s fine to meet with investors proposing a huge land-use deal for publicly owned land, but the mayor gets the goat for being so tight-lipped about it.

Subscribe to the VOSD Podcast on iTunes or get the RSS feed here. Stream or download it here or read the full show transcript.

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