The San Diego-Tijuana region is home to many millions of people, each with their own needs and perspectives and stories to tell. Somehow, last week, we narrowed the list of most influential locals to about a dozen and present today the 2018 Voices of the Year.

It wasn’t easy. Over multiple meetings and for several hours, the crew here made arguments for and against the inclusion of certain figures. The discussions were spirited and intense. At times, it was cutthroat.

Seriously, check out this photo. So many deep thoughts …

Monday we will release our 2018 Voices of the Year and the Voice of the Year. This was us, deep in deliberations.

— Scott Lewis (@vosdscott) December 15, 2018

Things got especially tough when the time came to pick the top spot. Our three finalists were Jack McGrory, Monica Montgomery and the migrant caravan members, and the dispute was settled by ranked-choice voting. We’re not spoiling anything here, so read on to see who won and who all made the full list.

Taken together, the 2018 Voice of the Year list reflects San Diego’s place at the center of many national conversations, as well as some of the lingering local policy dilemmas that continue to bewilder us all.

We say this every year, because it bears repeating: Being recognized on this list is not the same as being honored. It’s merely a reflection of the fact that, for better or worse, these folks were at the center of the biggest local civic discussions over the last year.

Mickey Kasparian Falls to Challenger

Todd Walters has won election as president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 135, the union long led by Mickey Kasparian. Rick Slayton, who oversaw the election for the national union, confirmed the news to VOSD Sunday.

“He will be president,” Slayton said when we asked if it was official. Slayton said Walters had won overwhelmingly by a 2-1 margin.

UFCW Local 135 represents about 12,000 members in San Diego and Imperial counties — mostly supermarket employees but also some casino, pharmacy and retail employees. Walters will walk right into major issues. In particular, a contract with Southern California grocery giants will need to be renewed.

But the change will also have major implications for local politics and for San Diego school board member Richard Barrera. Scott Lewis pulled together all we know about the change in a new story.

Roberts Backtracks on Vaccine Comments

Outgoing Supervisor Ron Roberts is walking back comments he made to KPBS last week suggesting that San Diego County’s delayed declaration of a public health emergency around hepatitis A was the result of a shortage of vaccine. That justification raised more questions than it answered.

For instance, in the months before the public health declaration, officials had emphasized that only at-risk groups — including homeless San Diegans and drug users — needed the vaccinations, and they never spoke publicly about a shortage.

After a request from Lisa Halverstadt to clarify, a spokesman for Roberts said the supervisor’s comments were based on his own interpretation of the situation. The county also confirmed that there was no shortage of vaccine for the region’s high-risk population.

Politics Roundup

  • SANDAG, the region’s transportation and planning agency, seems to be coming to terms with the fact that it won’t make good on the promises it made to voters in 2004. Also in the Politics Report, San Diego’s new City Council president just handed out big committee assignments at City Hall.
  • Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, for instance, will the chair of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee. She pledged during her campaign to give the Community Review Board on Police Practices subpoena power so it could independently investigate allegations of misconduct. As the U-T reports, critics have long argued the volunteer review board lacks the power to do its job effectively, isn’t diverse enough and works too closely with the Police Department.
  • Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, a Democrat who flipped a North County district long held by Republicans, gave us a sense of what it’s like to be a freshman legislator and where she stands on a couple contentious issues. On housing, for instance, she’s in favor of subsidies and tax credits to spur more affordable development, but expressed concern that the current infrastructure in coastal communities couldn’t support greater density.
  • San Diego’s conservative business class is at a crossroads. In the Trump era, can they continue to rely on the GOP to drive their agenda? Also on the podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Sara Libby and Andy Keatts interviewed newly elected Community College Board Trustee Sean Elo about his grassroots campaign and priorities in office.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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