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San Diego Sports Arena / Valley View Sports Center
The Valley View Casino Center / Image via Google Maps

Regular listeners of our podcast know that we’re obsessed with polls and joyous when pollsters call us. The next best thing is when someone passes along a recording of a call they get.

SDSU political science professor Brian Adams is the hero this week on that front. Competitive Edge Research and Communication sent out an email-based survey about the future of land around the Sports Arena (Valley View Casino Center).

Adams passed along the question:

Shall the city approve a privately-funded project which replaces the current sports arena with a new, modern arena; includes mixed-use commercial, retail and residential housing on the 120-acre city-owned site; is consistent with the community plan except that it requires an exemption from the 30-foot building height limit so the maximum height of any building at the site cannot exceed the 75-foot height of the current sports arena; and includes infrastructure improvements.

So yeah YOU’VE GOT OUR ATTENTION. We asked Competitive Edge’s John Nienstedt who the client was. He would not say.

This is the second such poll we’ve heard about. Several months ago, Scott got an automated survey asking for his opinion on the land, whether they should increase the height limit there (for the past 40 years, land west of I-5 and north of downtown in the city of San Diego has been restricted to a 30-foot height limit on development) and what kind of development should go there.

The background: The city owns a tremendous swath of land around the arena, not just the parking lot. It leases it out to places like Phil’s Barbecue. Those leases will not last forever. What’s the city got cooking? Exempting any new project from the coastal height limit would require a public vote.

Peters: Being Mayor Would Be Fun

We had U.S. Rep. Scott Peters on the podcast this week. We talked to him about why he voted against a continuing resolution to keep the government operating, his feelings on net neutrality (they’re not straightforward) and the Convention Center.

And yes, we got into some gossip. We asked if he would consider running for mayor of San Diego in 2020.

“I’m totally considering it,” he said. He even tested out a message for his campaign: The city needed more imagination.

He also said he was not sure Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was the best spokesperson for the Democratic Party

Big Investments in Zapf, Cate

The Lincoln Club and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce have gone in big for City Councilman Chris Cate and Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.

The independent expenditure committees for both now have almost exactly $300,000 each. The Lincoln Club gave each $100,000 and the Chamber gave each $200,000.

Why it matters: Cate seemed invulnerable several months ago but the controversy around his sharing a confidential document with SoccerCity developers weakened him and may have inspired some Democrats.

Incumbents are notoriously hard to oust. But both Zapf and Cate also face a tougher path than they might have in the past: No matter what happens in the June primary — even if they win 75 percent of the vote — they’ll have to go to a runoff.

Zapf is fighting off several Democratic challengers for the coastal District 2 race. None of them have, from what we can tell, independent campaigns supporting them.

Send us some thoughts: Zapf will be on the podcast next week. Got questions for her? Send them in.

The Resistance, DA Edition

Both District Attorney Summer Stephan and her predecessor, former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, attended the Women’s March last week. We asked for comment on why but they didn’t want to get into it.

District Attorney Summer Stephan is second from left. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

Stephan and Dumanis are both Republicans in good standing with the local party, and the march is pretty explicitly anti-Trump — it was held on the anniversary of his inauguration.

But it does have broader appeal, and Stephan seems to have been most motivated by her longtime work on sex trafficking.

“The bottom line is equality and real dignity for girls and women is personal for us mothers,” she wrote on Twitter.

She also posted a pic that included Dumanis, who is now running for county supervisor.

The lens of politics: Regardless of what motivated them to attend the march, Dumanis and Stephan are definitely targeting Democratic voters.

On Facebook, Stephan bought ads highlighting her support from another lawyer and leader of prosecutors in town: San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. She is a rising star among Democrats.

Dumanis also targeted Democrats on Facebook. Her post didn’t go so well. The comments are brutal.

Labor Council Blesses Fletcher

The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council this week endorsed former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher in his bid for the 4th District County Supervisor seat.

Why it matters: The endorsement brings with it both financial support and the ground campaign of volunteers who can bring voters to the polls down the home stretch.

It shows just how far Fletcher has come in winning over the progressive arm of the Democratic Party. In 2013, his mayoral campaign ended before it started when the Labor Council rejected his candidacy and recruited Councilman David Alvarez to run against him and Republican Kevin Faulconer.

This year, he was the only candidate in his race that the labor council spoke to.

Wait, what? Yea – the group didn’t invite any of the other Democrats running for the seat to come talk. Attorney Omar Passons, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña and the city’s former deputy fire chief Ken Malbrough didn’t get a chance.

Passons took it in stride, writing a blog post this week titled “Labor leaders do not owe me anything.”

Saldaña was not so sanguine.

Saldaña is a member of the American Federation of Teachers, a very politically active union that is part of the labor council.

“I have skin in this. I pay money into this organization,” she said. “It’s like, what am I paying for? Omar wrote a gracious statement saying he didn’t expect anything. I’m an AFT member – I did expect the courtesy of a heads up. Meanwhile, I always hear that we need to elect more rank-and-file union members.”

She said she asked multiple people at the labor council how the process would work, and was told any candidate who went through a “Labor 101” training would be invited to speak in March. That didn’t happen.

Malbrough couldn’t be reached for comment.

A new Labor Council: Saldaña was critical that neither Passons,  Malbrough nor she were invited. She also questioned why Genevieve Jones-Wright, candidate for district attorney, wasn’t invited in yet either. She will attend in March.

“They didn’t invite one African American candidate for that strategic meeting – what does that tell you about the Labor Council right now?” she said.

Other candidates for other upcoming elections got nods after the meeting. Matt Strabone, who’s running for county assessor, celebrated the endorsement on Twitter.

She said people in the room told her the Labor Council leaders asked candidates whether they would take money from Mickey Kasparian, the former Labor Council president, who started his own splinter group amid allegations of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination.

Keith Maddox, the current head of the labor council, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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