Here’s what to look for in 2010 on the government and politics beat:
Elections | It will be more than just people on the ballot in 2010, but the people are pretty important.
Next year’s hottest election is likely to be the District 4 County Supervisor’s race where 16-year incumbent Ron Roberts is in for a fight against state Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, D-San Diego, with termed out San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye still looming as a possible candidate. If Roberts loses, it would break up the longest running political show in San Diego, the 15-year tenure of the same five Republicans on the county board.
Elections will take place in San Diego City Council Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8. Incumbents Kevin Faulconer and Tony Young are running in Districts 2 and 4, respectively, but there are open seats in the other two. Frye has endorsed her Chief of Staff Steve Hadley to be her successor in District 6 and former state Assemblyman Howard Wayne also is running. In District 8, the older brother of incumbent Ben Hueso, Felipe, is running, as is Nick Inzunza Sr., the uncle of former Councilman Ralph Inzunza. If you’re tired of family dynasties, newcomer David Alvarez is in the race, too.
Also on the city ballot will be a referendum on the “strong mayor” form of government, which could permanently install the current executive and legislative branches of San Diego government and add a ninth City Council district.
Big Decisions on Big Buildings | Let’s tick them off one-by-one.
The downtown schoobrary: In October, the council sent the project out to bid, updating a 4-year-old, $185 million cost estimate. It will decide on awarding construction contract next summer.
Civic Center: Also in October, the council agreed to negotiate with a Portland-based developer to hammer out a deal for a new City Hall. Negotiations could last until next October, but city officials hope it could be done sooner. Sanders has said he wants the project to go before the voters.
Convention Center: There’s no timeframe on a proposal to expand the city’s Convention Center, but Mayor Jerry Sanders has been negotiating with hoteliers, the Port Commission and other stakeholders to develop a financing plan since August.
Chargers stadium: The city expects a consultant to return with financing options for the downtown stadium in the next couple months. After the Super Bowl in February, a Los Angeles developer is expected to shop his stadium proposal to teams around the country, including the Chargers.
The Elusive Long-Term Fix | Last month, my editor sent me links to stories we did on previous city budget seasons since Sanders first took office. They reflected a slow and steady progression in cuts to city services and departments and little to no movement on addressing long-term liabilities. Recent statements from the Mayor’s Office and City Council have indicated they will target these issues in the next six months. We’ll be there to see.
My favorite stories of the past year are pieces that tried to put in context some of the big and significant decisions politicians and city residents are making.
No better place to start than big and important buildings. Last week, I wrote about the downtown football stadium effort for the Chargers and the team’s seven-year history of looking for somewhere new to play.
In August, I broke down the arguments behind a possible $1 billion expansion of the city’s Convention Center. These stories followed the path blazed by my predecessor who explained how a proposed downtown library became a schoobrary. Look for a story from me soon on the push for a new City Hall.
Finally, the strangest story I did this year was this one about San Diego’s medical marijuana problem. It involved me spending some time at a marijuana dispensary, which is something we just don’t have back East. I returned to the office bursting to explain my shock and surprise. A colleague, nonplussed, looked up at me and said, “Welcome to California.”
— LIAM DILLON