What We Learned This Week - Voice of San Diego

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What We Learned This Week

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A person votes at the San Diego Convention Center polling location. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

Elections are the lifeblood of the Take Industry: Journalists and analysts (myself and VOSD included) love to surface trends and derive meaning from the outcome.

There seems to be a pretty clear through line, for example, between the amount of voters who supported Todd Gloria for mayor, the effort to raise taxes to fund affordable housing (Measure A) and the effort to raise the coastal height limit in the Midway District (Measure E). A natural takeaway is that voters want to see more aggressive solutions to the housing crisis.

Journalists are always far less eager to admit a consistent truism: Each election is filled with confounding contradictions.

Instead of trying to tie ourselves in knots to explain why, for example, voters decided to exempt app companies from AB 5 but also rejected most of the candidates who ran anti-AB 5 campaigns, we could simply acknowledge the obvious: Voters are inconsistent. Voters are often confused. There might not be any line to draw between certain outcomes other than “Well, both of those things sure happened!”

We saw some big hints about these inconsistencies before the election, with The Voice Poll, our first-ever scientific, commissioned poll of county residents.

Respondents consistently voiced inconsistent positions: They said they trusted their local police department, but also support defunding the police. The people who thought certain government entities were going in the wrong direction nonetheless supported the very politicians running those entities. Likewise, the people who thought government entities were going in the wrong direction supported … the challengers who’d bring a different perspective to those groups.

Statewide, voters ushered in even more Democratic lawmakers to the state Senate yet rejected some of Democratic lawmakers’ biggest accomplishments.

All votes should be counted; the will of the voters should be sacrosanct.

But it’s also fine to acknowledge that more often than not, voters usher in some weird, wildly contradictory outcomes.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Congrats on making it through this week, truly. Here are some takeaways:

Todd Gloria’s ascent – and the new coalition that made it happen – are signs the city is changing, and might start acting like the big city it is. The County Board of Supervisors, meanwhile, might start spending more to address homelessness and other issues now that a Democratic majority is taking the helm for the first time in at least a generation. Speaking of which, Oceanside went ahead and elected the only woman in the 12-person race. We broke down several other interesting races on a special election night podcast, as well as the winners and losers. I spoke to the author of the measure to enact a much tougher police review board about what will happen next.

At the state level, some weird juxtapositions: California voted in more Democratic lawmakers but reversed or rejected some of their biggest policies.

In School Boardland, union-backed candidates once again strolled easily into office. But this may be the last time that happens, thanks to a reform to the way those elections are carried out that voters also approved.

Every year our Voices of the Voters posts produce some very memorable moments, and already this dispatch from La Jolla has joined the Hall of Fame. Elsewhere around the county, voters in the South Bay are electing a new county supervisor for the first time in decades, but that race took a backseat to the presidential contest and several of the statewide ballot measures. Voters in the Mid-City area expressed deep concerns about housing, homelessness and development. And in Oceanside, where a whopping 12 people ran for mayor, voters unsurprisingly had a hard time keeping all the candidates straight.

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In case distance learning wasn’t providing enough instability for kids this year, an early retirement incentive offered by San Diego Unified means some teachers will exit the classroom midyear, without a clear plan in place to handle the disruption.

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Perhaps one election takeaway is that our human leaders no longer matter, because the robots are actually in charge now.

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The latest snapshot of what’s in the Tijuana River is as gross as you’d expect, but it also points to the need for more consistent testing.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“As Californians figure out what to do with thousands of buildings made empty by pandemic and recession, we should hold ourselves to a baseline standard: Let’s not be as scared and as stupid as San Diego.” – We deserved this, guys.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said Esther Sanchez was the only Democrat in the Oceanside race.

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