As long as we’re talking today about the curiosities of San Diego city politics, how about this one: We’re less than a year away from the San Diego city primary election. By any measure, City Hall is still mired in its long-running political and financial crisis. The public is dissatisfied with service levels, from pothole-filling to public safety response times. City employees — especially police officers — are deeply alienated for all sorts of reasons. Political bickering — the very opposite of the post-partisan governing style of Governor Arnold and Mayor Bloomberg — is still the order of many days at San Diego City Hall.
I feel safe in saying that, in any other big city in America facing this panoply of problems, serious challengers would by now have emerged to the city’s top elected officials. Yet here in San Diego, less than a year out, there are no declared (or undeclared — or even seriously rumored) challengers to the mayor or the city attorney. This is clearly an unusual situation, and the question is, why is it occurring in San Diego? Why, in this time of great crisis for the city of San Diego, might we very well not have the benefit of contested elections between qualified candidates for our highest offices? Is there something about our civic culture that encourages this kind of political lethargy?