Ethan Lewis emerged from his polling place at Featheringill Mortuary near Rolando Village and said he’d just seen where the country is headed.

“Future of our country – in a mortuary,” said Lewis, a 27-year-old restaurant worker.

Lewis, who wore the dog tags he got in the Army, said he voted for Donald Trump because of security lapses under Hillary Clinton’s watch that contributed to American deaths in Benghazi, Libya. Lewis considers Clinton’s actions traitorous, though he is not a huge fan of Trump’s.

“He’s an idiot, but he’s not a traitor,” Lewis said.

In interviews at polling places in City Council District 9 – which includes City Heights, Kensington-Talmadge and the College Area – voters expressed a mixture of frustration, disdain and hope.

District 9 is home to the last truly contested City Council race, though it’s between two Democrats, Georgette Gomez and Ricardo Flores.

“I think those two candidates are as flawed as our two candidates for president of the United States,” said Charlotte Holmes, who is retired from a career working with troubled youth.

She voted for Gomez because Flores is “never there in his office,” because Flores is working part time in his job as chief of staff to Marti Emerald, the current District 9 councilwoman. And Emerald? Holmes said the councilwoman was a “do-nothing.”

Photo by Ry Rivard

Holmes said she backed Gomez because Gomez might be more likely than Flores to lose a re-election bid in four years.

“I voted for Gomez because I figure she’ll be easier to get rid of,” Holmes said.

Katherine Rotherham, a retired college counselor, saw it far differently. Flores has come to her house in Kensington twice – once way before the June primary and again a few days ago. He won Rotherham’s vote.

“Georgette strikes me a little bit like Donna Frye,” Rotherham said, referring to a former city councilwoman. “You need to be able to work with people.”

Clinton Kisner, an architect, backed Flores because he was backed by Rep. Susan Davis, who Flores used to work for. He also voted for Todd Gloria for state Assembly and Toni Atkins for state Senate.

Photo by Ry Rivard

Lea Pace voted for Gomez, though, because she liked what she’d read about her.

Pace was at a Kensington polling station with her husband, David Pace. They both had another pretty clear goal: Help fund public transit and cut down on traffic.

David, a nuclear scientist, said they hoped to live in San Diego for “decades to come” and he wanted to ensure traffic doesn’t get more congested. That’s why they voted for Measure A, which funds public transit projects and highway improvements.

Using the same logic, they both voted against Measure B, which would allow 1,700 homes to be built in rural San Diego County, near Valley Center. The housing would be more affordable than similar houses in the city, but the project would increase traffic because it’s so far away.

The Paces were also suspicious of both Measure C, which would raise hotel taxes to build a joint stadium and convention center, and Measure D, which would raise hotel taxes to help build a convention center and possibly a stadium.

The ads for both seemed slanted and “made us suspicious,” David said.

Vic Sotelo, who is retired, picked his way through what he called the “tedious” ballot measures and came to the same conclusion as the Paces on Measures C and D: no.

San Diego just isn’t a sports town, Sotelo said. It’s a tourist town.

“I think the tourists deserve more red carpet treatment,” he said – not higher taxes. “If you want a sports venue, all you gotta do is drive up to L.A.,” Sotelo said.

David Pappert, who did quality-control work for electronics companies but had trouble finding work, had a similar concern: What if the hotel taxes don’t raise enough money for pay for a stadium?

“If something goes wrong with filling up the hotel tax, where are they gonna get the money?” he said.

Carl North is a San Diego Chargers fan. He thinks the tourists should pay for a new stadium, so he voted for Measure C.

“I think it would be good for the city, as long as we don’t have to pay for it,” said North, who is out on disability from his job instructing truck drivers.

North voted in City Heights but spent the night before Election Day going over the ballot with his grandson, who is old enough to vote and is heading off to college next year. North was careful to tell the young man that his vote was his own and that he’d have to do it on his own in years to come, when North may no longer be around.

“There’s no such thing as not voting,” North said.

Kiana Arruda and her boyfriend Giovanni Montes were both voting for the first time Tuesday at the mortuary.

They knew a little about local ballot measures – they supported Measure A because, as Arruda said, “the roads could use a lot of work” – but they showed up to support Clinton, and to vote against Trump.

“His remarks against women, I really don’t agree with,” Arruda, 20-year-old psychology major at Grossmont Community College, said of Trump.

Mindy Mulligan, a stay-at-home mother who had just picked her son up from preschool in Kensington, said she supports Clinton and her husband supports Trump – but either way she thinks the country will be fine.

Photo by Ry Rivard

“I’m optimistic with either result,” she said.

Others, of course, are not.

Outside the polling place at the Kensington Community Church, Kieran Leavy bounded down the stairs and walked over to me when he saw I was interviewing voters. Leavy is here on vacation from County Laois, Ireland. He showed up at the polling place just to see what us Americans are up to. He wanted to make clear we’ve made a mess of ourselves.

“I think these candidates are very poor for this great nation,” he said. Particularly Trump, who he summed up as “no manners, very racist, so wrong.” Then Leavy walked off as the noon bells chimed to continue his vacation and leave America in the hands of the Americans.

Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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