Photo by Sam Hodgson
Scott Sherman’s political career was sparked at least partly by mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio.
Sherman said he met DeMaio in 2010 while campaigning for anglers’ rights under the Marine Life Protection Act, a state law that protects parts of the local ocean from fishing. He said DeMaio convinced the City Council to abstain from endorsing a map of protected sites for San Diego. That impressed him so much, Sherman said, that he offered to help DeMaio with future political campaigns.
“Six weeks later, the phone rings and it’s Carl,” Sherman said. “He says, ‘Hey I’m running for mayor, can you do something for me?’”
Sherman held a fundraiser for DeMaio. Soon afterwards, he said longtime political insider (and former District 7 candidate) April Boling approached him and asked him to run for City Council. Since he didn’t know anyone in politics, Sherman said, he emailed DeMaio for advice.
“He said ‘Absolutely, I think you should do it,’” Sherman said. “Next thing I know, he’s sending out emails to all his buddies saying ‘Here’s this guy I know who’s running in District 7, you should all get behind him.’”
But while Sherman’s opponents have tried to paint him as “DeMaio’s guy,” the businessman is adamant that he’s his own candidate.
Like DeMaio, Sherman’s a registered Republican, sure. He supports DeMaio’s pension initiative and talks a lot about the need for managed competition of city services and other policies DeMaio supports. But Sherman rejects any claims that he’s part of an orchestrated team of Republicans corralled by DeMaio to take over City Hall.
“I didn’t ask for it or anything else, it just kinda happened,” Sherman said. “I’m nobody’s guy.”
Along with his three opponents, Sherman has entered rather a strange race.
The boundaries of District 7 were significantly redrawn by the city last year, a process that resulted in the district’s current councilwoman, Marti Emerald, running in an entirely new district. That leaves District 7 without an incumbent, and four candidates — all of them white males — have jumped at the opportunity to represent what has become a distinctly less racially diverse and wealthier district.
I spent last week getting to know the neighborhoods of the new district and learning something about the issues facing residents. Then I took those concerns to each candidate in turn and quizzed them about why they would make the best representative for the district.
Sherman, who owns an insurance business, is the major Republican candidate in the race. He’s been endorsed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, the three current Republican City Council members and the conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego.
The June primary election will be a big test for Sherman. With no Democratic presidential candidate on the ballot, June’s primary will likely bring out a smaller proportion of Democratic voters than November’s election. Sherman said he hopes to capitalize on that to win June’s primary election outright, with more than 50 percent of the votes.
Let’s find out some more about him.
Top Three Priorities
• Fiscal Responsibility: This is Sherman’s big talking point. It boils down to this: Sherman says he’s run a small business for two decades, and he said he wants to strip away the bureaucracy that holds businesses back in San Diego and that he wants to make sure taxpayers are getting the best deal for their money.
Asked to elaborate, he said he supports Proposition B, the city’s pension reform measure and said he wants to reduce the number of permits small businesses are required to have to operate.
• Potholes and Managed Competition: Sherman said the way potholes are fixed in the city today makes no sense.
He said he wants to see private companies competing with public workers to see who can fix potholes the most efficiently, for the best price.
And he supports contracting out other city services too, with the goal of getting taxpayers the best bang for their buck. That’s what he does when he sells an insurance policy, he said, and he sees no reason why the city can’t also ensure it’s getting residents the best deal.
• Responsible Development of Grantville’s Mission Gorge Corridor: Sherman lives in Allied Gardens, which borders Mission Gorge Road, where thousands of apartments are slated to be developed in future years.
He said he wants to see that growth develop responsibly, with developers building at least one new park in the neighborhood and with apartment projects adhering to the vision of building a river park along San Diego River.
“I’ve lived in Allied Gardens my entire life. I live in the house I grew up in. Grantville was my backyard and playground when I was a child, and I like my community kinda the way it is, but I also understand that development is going to have to come,” Sherman said. “But we have to do it smartly.”
Best Way to Describe His Pitch
He’s all about business.
Sherman hits all the buzzwords about government accountability and making sure taxpayers are getting the best deal. He always comes back to his business background. Whether in negotiating fair deals with developers, getting teams of pothole fixers to compete against each other, or cutting down on bureaucracy, he says he would work hard at City Hall to make San Diego a more attractive place to do business than it is now.
What He Doesn’t Want to Talk About
There are a few points on which Sherman was rather vague in our interviews.
He said he disagreed with DeMaio on some non-fiscal issues, but said he didn’t know which ones. Apart from saying generally that “water use issues” might be an area where the two men disagree, he wouldn’t, or couldn’t elaborate.
He was also noticeably roundabout on the issue of allowing developers to pay so-called “in-lieu fees” rather than building parks and other infrastructure in Grantville. While he said he would insist on at least one park in the area, he also suggested that developers could be allowed to pay the fees, as long as those fees were spent in the same area where they were building.
And Sherman didn’t want to talk much about the fact that those same developers have paid thousands of dollars into his campaign.
He scoffed at the idea that a $500 campaign contribution could sway his opinion on the big divisive issue in his community, but failed to address the fact that lots of those $500 contributions added together might pose a more formidable challenge to his decision-making if and when he was elected.
Interesting Fact About His Life
Sherman was a single dad for 13 years. After splitting with his ex-wife, he moved back to San Diego, where he joined the family business and raised his daughter. Also, his first paycheck was $43.
What He Sees as Important in Each Area
In Grantville, Allied Gardens and San Carlos, the important issue is the development mentioned above, which Sherman said he plans to have a very hands-on approach to if elected. He said he’s worked with the community for decades, and said residents and developers need to start talking to each other in order to find compromises.
In Linda Vista, Birdland and Serra Mesa, Sherman said he wants to make sure residents have a representative of his office that they know and trust. Residents in the area are worried their voices won’t be heard, and Sherman said he will make sure those communities have ample opportunity to contact him if and when they need to.
In Tierrasanta and Mission Valley, Sherman said residents and businesses need to get the benefit of his fiscal reform ideas. The most important thing Sherman said he can do is make sure that his constituents are getting the best deal for their taxes. That means getting streets paved efficiently and cutting bureaucracy for businesses, he said.
Get in Touch With Him:
Office phone + email: 619.634.5199 + email@example.com
Next up: A guide to District 7 candidate Rik Hauptfeld.
Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5670.
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