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As Imperial Beach considered marijuana regulations this spring, some of the input came from Darnisha Hunter, who works for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and is running for the Imperial Beach City Council.
On June 6, Hunter presented the IB City Council with a list of recommendations for improving the proposed regulations, which she said had come from members of the community at a church forum. Personally, she said, she did not agree with what the city was doing.
“But as a person that works in government, when people say they want something your job is to figure out how to make it happen,” she said.
An email exchange obtained by Voice shows that Imperial Beach city manager Andy Hall spoke with Hunter shortly before that City Council meeting in June — and then documented their phone chat in an email from her official San Diego account.
Three days later, Hall passed along Hunter’s recommendations to two IB Council members who sat on a committee working on marijuana regulations.
Hall told Voice that while he was aware Hunter worked in the San Diego mayor’s office, she didn’t mention it or give the impression that she was speaking on behalf of Faulconer. “I felt she was speaking to me as a resident of IB,” Hall wrote in an email.
Hunter also responded with a statement: “My interactions with the City of Imperial Beach have been in my capacity as a resident and do not reflect the positions of my employer nor was it my intention to relay that effect.”
The Union-Tribune reported this week that Hunter is hosting a backpack giveaway in the South Bay city for Faulconer’s office, and the timing of the event has caused some officials to wonder whether Hunter was leveraging her position in San Diego to boost her profile in IB. The mayor’s office said her role includes hosting events across the region.
“Normally, you organize events in your own city. My residents don’t want me organizing events in San Diego,” said IB Mayor Serge Dedina.
This post originally appeared in the Aug. 11 Politics Report.