National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

As the San Diego mayor’s race continues without a Republican candidate, the top two Democrats in the race are on the attack against each other.

This week on the podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby reviewed the latest dust-ups in the race.

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry released a video on Facebook touting her vision for Balboa Park, putting down Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s record on the park and elevating the park as a matter “critical” to the upcoming election.

As noted in last week’s Politics Report, Bry’s camp aimed to scandalize the fact that Gloria had a 2020 campaign open for his state Assembly seat. That’s neither illegal nor uncommon.

Gloria, however, failed to file a required form declaring his intent to run before he began raising money. For his part, Gloria tried to set things straight in a recent KUSI interview.

That Happened: The Robots of Lilac Hills

This is the first installment of what could be your favorite new VOSD podcast segment.

“That Happened” features a moment in the region’s not-too-distant history where something so uniquely San Diego took place. We’ll feature events so weird and memorable that in retrospect we can only say, “Well, that happened.”

The year was 2015.

Keatts and VOSD reporter Maya Srikrishnan published a big investigation revealing all the ways one developer had tried to get the Lilac Hills Ranch project approved.

This was a big sprawl development project near rural Valley Center. Keatts and Srikrishnan found the developer had tried to bully a family into selling off its land to make way for the project, had pumped tens of thousands of dollars in to a county supervisor’s campaign and the election of local fire board officials.

In the face of all the criticism that followed, the developer still had to try and persuade the county that it was worth approving the project anyway.

Their answer: Robots.

The developer partnered with a local robotics company and said that if approved, the development would feature robots that could carry residents’ groceries home, or walk their kids to school — as well as robot vehicles to could ferry people around the neighborhood.

In a press release, the company’s CEO said invited the reader to dream this dream, too. “Imagine Uber but where there are neither drivers nor cars.”

That happened.

Meet Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis

The first Latina mayor of National City, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, joined the podcast this week for an interview.

This is Sotelo-Solis’ first year as mayor after serving on the City Council.

Sotelo-Solis discussed the need for equitable housing development throughout the San Diego region and whether she — and her constituents — would be up for a sales tax increase to fund transit.

She said she’s still in the listening stage on MTS’s proposed ballot measure but said she hasn’t heard her constituents express any opposition yet. She added her office has not officially taken a stance but, “personally, I think it’s important.”

The interview starts at minute 24 of the podcast.

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Nate John

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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