I spent my morning talking to voters in District 1, where challenger Ray Ellis hopes to unseat Councilwoman Sherri Lightner in the City Council race.

The race is a big deal citywide because the winner will determine whether the San Diego City Council is mostly Republican or Democrat. (For more on the importance of the race, check out this recent San Diego Explained.)

But most voters I talked to today at Carmel Valley and La Jolla precincts were more excited to vote in the presidential election or on state propositions than on the local races.

Some told me they didn’t follow local politics closely; others, particularly when it came to the mayor’s race, didn’t feel passionately about their vote.

One of my first stops was at Carmel Creek School.

There, I met Carmen Vacar.

Carmen Vacar, 46, of Carmel Valley says voting is a point of pride for her because she grew up in Romania. #SDvote twitter.com/LisaHalverstad…

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 6, 2012

Vacar said she felt mostly strongly about Proposition 30, which aims to increase education funding.

She struggled to decide who to support in the mayor’s race, and ultimately voted for Rep. Bob Filner because she felt uncomfortable with Councilman Carl DeMaio. Still, she questioned her vote at the last minute.

“In the booth, I kept thinking, ‘Should I go for what I decided last night?’ I held my nose and went for it,” she said.

And Vacar voted for Lightner because she said she generally believes government benefits from more female leaders.

Carmel Valley resident Sammy Chang was also excited about Prop. 30, and had a lot to say about his support for Lightner:

Carmel Valley resident Sarah Widner admitted she was less engaged in the local races.

Sarah Widner, 26, of Carmel Valley says she came out to vote for @barackobama. Says she “doesn’t really care” about local issues. #SDvote

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 6, 2012

Widner, who usually supports Democrats, said she wanted to ensure the Republican presidential candidate didn’t win.

“Mitt Romney is so back and forth on all the issues,” she said. “I don’t really know what his views really are.”

Next I headed to Carmel Valley Community Park.

There, I met up Robert Brooks.

Robert Brooks, 73, of Carmel Valley said the mayor’s race was a tough call but he went with @carldemaio. twitter.com/LisaHalverstad…

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 6, 2012

“In most cases, you’re asked to go with the lesser of two evils,” Brooks said of his DeMaio pick.

Brooks, who was most motivated by a desire to elect Romney, said he didn’t vote in the District 1 council race.

After chatting with Brooks, I drove to La Jolla.

One voter at the La Jolla Christian Fellowship stuck out to me almost immediately.

La Jolla resident Isabel Cruz came to the polls decked out in #Prop37 gear. #SDvote twitter.com/LisaHalverstad…

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 6, 2012

(Note: Cruz’s outfit appears to be in violation of California’s elections code, which bars anyone from displaying a ballot measure’s number or logo within 100 feet of a polling place. A violation, known as electioneering, is a misdemeanor in the state.)

Cruz, a chef, was passionate about the need for labels on genetically modified foods.

“Why are (the corporations who have denounced Prop. 37) so afraid for people to know what’s in their food?” she said. “I want to have the right to choose.”

But Cruz said she’d rather not comment on the local races.

My next chat was with a La Jolla resident who rode his bike to the polls.

La Jolla resident Gerhard Gessner, 59, on his vote for @sherrilightner: “I think she’s done a good job.” #SDvote twitter.com/LisaHalverstad…

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 6, 2012

Gessner, who said he would like to see La Jolla pull away from the city of San Diego in the future, said he appreciates the fact that Lightner is open to those discussions.

It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a La Jolla resident.

“She’s more local (than Ray Ellis),” Gessner said.

I was lucky enough to chat with several other voters throughout the day. Many of them shared similar views or weren’t willing to give a full name or have their picture taken. Still, I’d like to thank all the folks who took the time to stop and chat with me today.

Do you agree or disagree with those who shared their views? Do you know others who are passionate about national politics but must be persuaded to consider local races? I’d love to hear from you.

Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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