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Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Four members of the San Diego City Council are returning to the campaign trail, despite each having been a candidate one or more times in the past year and a half.

Half of the city’s voters will have the opportunity to change their elected council delegates June 6, just months after the body was restored to full strength. The upcoming election poses the possibility that the already-embattled legislative body will be reshaped once again, although the droves of candidates that ran for vacant seats last year are staying home this spring.

Council members Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, Donna Frye and Ben Hueso will defend their council seats in the June 6 primary, each enjoying an air of incumbency that likely prevented a situation like last year’s special elections, where 26 candidates ran for two empty positions. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent in June, the top two vote-getters in that race will advance to a runoff election in November.

Faulconer bested a field of 16 other candidates and Hueso defeated eight others in special elections that were held last November to replace two resigned councilmen, but the number of candidates they will face this time around is much smaller. In June, Faulconer will face one opponent and Hueso will defend his post against two others.

Experts say the candidate pools have narrowed between last fall and now because the incumbent status poses obstacles to would-be challengers that were not in play when the seats were open.

“First and foremost is the power of incumbency,” said political consultant Christopher Crotty. He said that Faulconer and Hueso will have an easier time raising funds and organizing their campaign because they are sitting officials, albeit relatively fresh faces.

Brian Adams, a political scientist at San Diego State University, said the candidate field likely dwindled because those two council races were so recent. Mustering up the funds to run again so soon after being defeated is a major obstacle for challengers, Adams said.

“It’s a lot easier for [incumbents] to raise funds than challengers, especially when you have to raise them in a relatively short amount of time,” Adams said. “A lot of time, people will take one shot and will run out of money, so they won’t run again.”

Two of Hueso’s challengers in last November’s election will compete again for the District 8 seat, which represents San Diego neighborhoods south of downtown and along the Mexican border. Teacher Remy Bermudez and businessman Tim Gomez will run again, despite their failure to garner enough support to advance to the January runoff, where Hueso easily defeated school board president Luis Acle.

Both Bermudez and Gomez say the experience they gained last year should help their chances in June.

“I have some experience under my belt and know how the drama works,” Gomez said.

Hueso said he expected others to compete for the full four-year term, but said he is also a little frustrated that he will have to spend some time campaigning when he was just elected to serve his district.

“I was hoping nobody would decide to run and unfortunately I have to go through with raising money and campaigning door-to-door at the same time I’m trying to get something done for our city,” Hueso said. “The fact that we have campaigns is very difficult, it’s trying.”

Faulconer will face attorney Kennan Kaeder, who chaired the county Democratic Party from 2002 and 2004, for the right to represent District 2, which includes the city’s downtown, peninsula and beach neighborhoods. In January, Faulconer edged environmental attorney Lorena Gonzalez in the District 2 runoff by garnering 51 percent to her 49 percent. Gonzalez mulled a June rematch, but opted to bow out earlier this month.

Kaeder said he wanted to oust Faulconer because it appeared he was “in the pockets of developers” after raising so much money from the real estate industry in the last election.

Faulconer said he has accomplished a lot in the few months he has served, such as keeping officials from relocating a regional detoxification center to Pacific Beach and starting work on the aging Mission Beach seawall. He said he is confident that voters will realize that he’s a relatively fresh face to City Hall, but added that he doesn’t expect a free pass.

“I think people know I’m the new guy, but some people want to say, ‘you’ve been in there for three months, what have you been able to do?’” Faulconer said.

Young and Frye have also recently undergone campaigns.

Young won a special election in January 2005 to replace the late Councilman Charles Lewis in District 4, which encompasses Southeast San Diego. His opponent for the upcoming June election, University of Phoenix administrator Bruce Williams, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Even with just a year under his belt, Young said he was confident that he had a track record that voters would find impressive for an official seeking re-election. He touted the development projects and youth programs he has launched since getting elected.

“It’s a great advantage for me because we have accomplished the things we said we would,” he said.

Frye has held her City Council seat since 2001, but has endured two elections for mayor in a span of 12 months. She was defeated last November by Jerry Sanders. She said she didn’t feel fatigued by her ongoing campaign endeavors and said she wouldn’t let the upcoming race interfere with her responsibility to District 6, which includes Clairemont, Kearney Mesa and Mission Valley.

“The council priorities always come first,” Frye said. “Unfortunately there are sometimes when the forums a very difficult to schedule because my council work is going to take precedence.”

Frye’s opponents in June are Sandy Summers, an often vulgar speaker during City Council hearings, and homemaker Judy Riddle. Both Summers and Riddle were unavailable for comment.

Please contact Evan McLaughlin directly at

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