In tough times, it’s comforting to stick with what you know.

Voters in Ocean Beach, Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs shared that message repeatedly as I visited polls Tuesday morning. Most told me they’d just voted for Kevin Faulconer, Nathan Fletcher or Mike Aguirre thanks to personal interactions or a good sense of where those candidates are coming from. Many were well acquainted with Faulconer, who represents their neighborhoods on the City Council. (None I spoke to supported Councilman David Alvarez.)

A couple acknowledged they weren’t as up to speed on the issues as they’d like to be but nearly all agreed that the sexual harassment allegations that sunk Bob Filner’s mayorship in some way influenced their vote.

“I just want somebody who’s not going to embarrass the city in any way,” said Ocean Beach resident Katherine McGrath, who voted for Fletcher.

McGrath said she enjoyed learning about instances where Fletcher worked with leaders of different political persuasions during his two terms in the state Assembly and hoped he’d be more of a uniting figure than Filner.

I met McGrath outside the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club, my first stop of the day.

That’s where I also met Todd Costello.

OB resident Todd Costello voted for @kevin_faulconer b/c he wants to see more financial discipline. #SDmayor

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Costello said city Democrats have over-invested in city programs and Faulconer has shown he’s willing to make the tough decisions necessary to manage the budget.

Ocean Beach residents Michael Buxton and Donna Zoll were more enthusiastic about Aguirre, the former city attorney.

Buxton zeroed in on Aguirre’s background and track record as an elected official.

OB resident Michael Buxton voted for Mike Aguirre b/c he’s a “real person w/ real experience. #SDmayor

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Zoll said Aguirre’s commitment to the environment and community concerns were crucial to her, as was his willingness to fight for San Diegans.

OB resident/Aguirre supporter Donna Zoll says he’d “stand up against business as usual.” #SDmayor

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

But Zoll was particularly struck by an interaction she had with the former city attorney years ago. When the two first met, Zoll said she criticized other city leaders and Aguirre stopped her.

He’s not just a fighter, Zoll said, he cares.

After chatting with Buxton and Zoll, I headed to St. Peter’s by the Sea Lutheran Church on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and met someone who remained uncertain about his vote.

Ivar Leetma of Sunset Cliffs is trying to decide whether to vote for @nathanfletcher or @kevinfaulconer.

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Leetma seemed to be leaning toward Faulconer, mostly because he’d like to avoid another special election. Faulconer is largely expected to place first in today’s election and though it’s unlikely, he could win outright if he gets support from more than 50 percent of voters.

Beyond that, Leetma said he was most focused on electing a mayor who will make the city more business-friendly.

“I’d love to have it be a place where people want to do business,” said Leetma, who felt Alvarez hadn’t shown he has the experience to do that.

(Leetma later caught up with me on Twitter and said he’d gone with Faulconer.)

Sunset Cliffs residents Dan Kamdar and Madhavi Shah both said they voted for Faulconer because he’s a Republican who brings more certainty than the other candidates.

Dan Kamdar of Sunset Cliffs: kevin_faulconer is the most trustworthy & knowledgeable candidate. # SDmayor

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Mary Maslanik, another Sunset Cliffs resident, said she voted for Faulconer based on his track record in the community.

“You can actually see the work that he does,” said Maslanik, who cited Faulconer’s support of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Voters at my next stop, a Courtyard Marriott near Liberty Station in Point Loma, were also Faulconer fans.

“He has seven years’ worth of experience shadowing Mayor (Jerry) Sanders, who did a great job turning the city around,” said Claudia Betzner, who said Faulconer used to go to her church.

Polly Milford has also gotten to know Faulconer and said she appreciates his Christian faith.

“I feel like he’ll have the kind of value system we need for our city and that he’ll make all his decisions based on what’s a godly principle, not based on politics,” Milford said.

Their polling place was pretty quiet so I decided to head to Phil’s BBQ, an Election Day hub I thought might be more lively.

Quirkiest polling location today: @PhilsBBQSD. Ballots and BBQ should go together, right? Cc: @saralibby

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

It was also pretty quiet. (No, they weren’t serving BBQ to voters or reporters. Sigh.)

The first Phil’s BBQ voter I encountered was Point Loma resident Jesus Fimbres, who supports good food but isn’t thrilled with labor groups – or the candidates they back.

Jesus Fimbres of Point Loma is concerned w/ union endorsements. Candidates w/ them didn’t get his vote.

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Fimbres voted for Faulconer.

Fellow “BBQ voter” Andi Hargis of Point Loma decided to go with Fletcher.

Point Loma resident Andi Hargis voted for @nathanfletcher. “I know him best.” #SDmayor

— Lisa Halverstadt (@LisaHalverstadt) November 19, 2013

Fletcher’s apparent fight against Mission Beach flies sold her.

For a few years, residents and business have dealt with an influx of the beloved creatures. Hargis said Fletcher has tried to help with that.

(Note: We’re not certain about Fletcher’s work on Mission Beach’s fly problem but Faulconer has previously pledged to assist residents trying to solve the problem. On Wednesday, Hargis contacted me to clarify that she misspoke on Election Day and actually voted for Faulconer.)

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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