In the last weeks before Election Day, District 2 voters have been inundated with political mail attaching Councilwoman Lorie Zapf to President Donald Trump, and past comments she made that homosexuality is a sin and gay people shouldn’t serve in public office.
That mail has largely come from labor unions that sense an opportunity to give Democrats a sixth Council vote, which would let them override any veto by Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Business groups on the right, meanwhile, are emptying their coffers to tell voters just how much Zapf disagrees with them on everything. They seem to see it as their best bet to keep the seat from Democrat Jen Campbell, a retired physician and first-time candidate.
The race for D2 has become the mostly closely watched and hotly contested in the final days of the election season, as Andy Keatts reports in a last look at the race.
If Zapf loses, she’d be the first Council incumbent to fall since 1991. But there are 10,000 more Democrats than Republicans in the district, and the race appears to be highly competitive.
To get a sense of just how important San Diego’s political interests find the race, consider where the spending total in the district could end up. If every group involved in the race spends everything they have on hand, that would mean $2.4 million spent to influence District 2 voters, with 70 percent of that going to Zapf. In the last midterm general election, just 40,000 people voted in the district, meaning the city’s parties, unions and business interests could be spending nearly $60 per voter.
Lead Leads Bond Debate
Unsafe water has become the central issue in the campaign to pass a $3.5 billion bond for San Diego Unified School District.
The money to remove lead from the school system’s drinking water, though, is not at the center of the bond, Will Huntsberry and Ry Rivard report. Only about $45 million, or about 2 percent, is expected to go to improve water quality, which became an issue last year following some scary test results from sinks and drinking fountains across the region. Lead is unsafe at any level and can damage children’s brains.
San Diego Unified has an ambitious plan to remove much of the lead from its plumbing and fixtures, but it’s not sure how much it will cost or how long it will take. But it’s sure it needs a new bond to do it.
As officials acknowledge, the district still has $2 billion in unspent bonds. But they now say that money can’t be used to replace pipes, though they promised to do just that in its previous pitches to voters.
- In a new op-ed, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and a public health advocate throw their support behind the district’s bond, Measure YY, citing the district’s new promises to replace the plumbing and install water filters. They argue that the tax money will ensure the district adopts a stronger lead standard than both the federal and state governments, giving San Diego schools the cleanest drinking water in the country.
Fighting Over the Small Stuff in National City
Politics is divisive by its nature. Policy disagreements are healthy.
But National City is taking the infighting typical at city halls and elevating it to an art form.
Adriana Heldiz reports that National City’s elected officials are split into two warring factions and their disputes have begun bleeding into otherwise non-controversial topics — like community gardens. One Council member said he didn’t seek a second term this year in an attempt to change the city’s political dynamic.
Community organizers say the tension among elected officials isn’t new, even though it reached a fever pitch this summer with a made-up sexual harassment allegation. But the tension does, they say, further alienate the electorate.
Hunter Still Has the Edge
Despite being indicted by a federal grand jury, Rep. Duncan Hunter is still favored to keep his seat in the 50th Congressional District, where President Donald Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016.
Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens suggests that keeping a Republican — any Republican — in office there is important to many voters. The reasoning, as Smolens sees it, is that if Hunter beats the charges against him, or if he’s convicted and a special election is held, the GOP is likely to remain in control.
Separate profiles of Hunter’s Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, zeroed in on his family’s background:
- CityBeat focused on the first-time candidate’s maternal relatives, one of whom was a farmworker in Mexico.
- The U-T offers a wide look at the other side of the family, noting that Campa-Najjar’s father emerged during his time in the Palestinian Authority as one of its internal critics. He was reportedly fired earlier this year when Campa-Najjar condemned his grandfather’s involvement in terrorist acts.
In Other News
- A new study, co-written by scientists at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says ocean temperatures have been warming faster than a United Nations group recently warned, meaning the planet could have even less time to avoid global catastrophe. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego Police Chief Dave Nisleit said his department will not ban the carotid restraint, as recommended by a community police review board (except in assaulting or life-threatening circumstances). The chokehold, which applies pressure to the throat, is already banned by SDPD. The carotid restraint targets the side of the neck, cutting off blood to render someone unconscious. (Union-Tribune)
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it doesn’t have the capacity to process asylum-seekers who approach the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Some have been waiting weeks and months in Tijuana, where police abuses against migrants are rampant and homicides are at an all-time high. (KPBS)
- Lime recalled some of its scooters in Los Angeles, San Diego and Lake Tahoe because of defective batteries that were at risk of catching fire. (10News)
- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that medical exams of children taken into protective custody by San Diego County and done without a court order or parental consent are not constitutional. (Union-Tribune)
- UC San Diego is planning to slow its enrollment growth for a couple years while it absorbs the larger-than-expected increase in students. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.