At the moment, this is the most interesting race in the city, hands down. City Attorney Mike Aguirre is the dominant political figure in the city. One cannot have a conversation in this town about politics without his name coming up within minutes — and the conversation stays with him.

The candidates at this time are Aguirre, Dan Coffey and Bill Gentry, and mulling things over — Alan Bersin. Dan Coffey is an attorney and a nice guy but the consensus is no chance.

Bill Gentry is a deputy District Attorney and an Army vet with service in Iraq.

Alan Bersin is a former U.S. attorney, former superintendent of San Diego City Schools, currently chairman of the airport authority, extremely bright, competent — and hated. I know Alan. I like him. I wish we had taken some of his advice when I worked for Mayor Dick Murphy. He is really a good guy. But if Aguirre is the most divisive public figure in San Diego, Alan Bersin is a strong runner-up for the title.

I have already had people say to me “I can’t stand Aguirre but if it is a choice between him and Bersin, I’ll take Aguirre.”

The residue of his tenure as school superintendent lingers and lingers and lingers. I saw polling data on him during those years and it was awful. And given his personality, any race between Aguirre and him would be a food fight for the ages. This town does not need that.

I think Gentry is the ideal candidate: solid, good record, low key, a good lawyer, a vet — just the kind of person needed to lower the decibel count and temperature in City Hall. And if this town needs anything, it needs a city attorney whose public profile is way way lower than we now have. A good solid lawyer like Bill Gentry with prosecutorial experience is just what the doctor ordered.

People tell me: “Yeah but he is unknown. No name ID.”

My response is this: So what? That is what campaigns are all about. It doesn’t matter what Gentry’s name ID is now. It only matters what his name ID is after a campaign and when people are voting. Because of the visibility of this race his name ID will be more than high enough.

This is going to be the No. 1 race in the city.

— JOHN KERN

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