Less than five months before the June primary, the four major mayoral candidates took the stage on Friday for their first debate together.

Our Scott Lewis sat on the media panel, where he asked the candidates some questions. Afterward, Lewis asked his Facebook subscribers if anything stood out to them from the debate and offered his own takeaways:

(If you missed the debate, check out Liam Dillon’s write-up of it and the Lincoln Club’s our special page on the candidates.)

I’m looking forward to watching the full debate again. I will say I was pleased that so many of the narratives we focus on at VOSD drove the debate and:

1) Bonnie Dumanis came off very sincere to me. Not that she is a snake-oil salesman normally; I just wasn’t expecting it to strike me like that. She seemed down to Earth and humble. I’m not sure if that rallies a campaign but I thought it was notable. It became clear her pension is a significant liability. She’d have possibly been better off defending pensions in general rather than squaring this deep contradiction.

2) Carl DeMaio is entering a new period. He’s going to have to play a political game he hasn’t before. He clearly decided to double-down on the strategy to appeal to people’s anger about the city’s finances and bitterness about public employee unions. I get a dose of that anger every day from readers so I know how attractive it is. But I wonder how far it will take him.

3) Bob Filner is obviously a showman — great with the one-liners and getting more of a grasp of the city’s problems. But he’s clearly still far too dismissive of details. I do not think San Diegans want a mayor who simply laughs off the problems we’ve been trying to work through for years. His ideas are not tethered to reality. If he figures out how to demonstrate they’re possible, he’ll be very strong. Big if.

4) Nathan Fletcher was very smooth and prepared. But he’s also still asking us just to believe in him, his ability to bring people together and his vision. If he were to get into the final with DeMaio, he’s going to need to go many levels further into all the issues the city faces. DeMaio has an expert talent in framing issues. Fletcher will have to match that or be ready to fight DeMaio’s wars.

So what did you take away from the debate?

Dagny Salas is the web editor at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact her directly at dagny.salas@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5669.

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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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