The Morning Report
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The Democratic presidential primary and a hotel-tax measure that would fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs were foremost on some central city voters’ minds as they flowed into the polls Tuesday morning.
In fact, North Park resident Drew Cass confessed those were the only two issues he voted on when I met him outside the North Park Library early Tuesday morning.
Cass was eager to support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and Measure C, largely due to the new money it promises to address homelessness.
“I’m optimistic hopefully that it will help with the homelessness problem around here,” said Cass, who said he’s noticed more street homelessness near the library since he bought his nearby condo two years ago.
North Park resident Travis Kushner, who voted for Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic nomination, said he ended up voting for Measure C too – after lots of debate with friends about the homelessness funds it promises.
“I have to hope that the measure will actually do what it says,” said 32-year-old Kushner.
My next stop was the Linda Vista Library, where I met Sanders supporter and Clairemont resident Karen Crawford.
Crawford, 57, said she believes Sanders is committed to caring for citizens. She was less convinced on Measure C.
“I spent so much time researching it and ultimately it was the only issue I did not vote on my ballot because I could not decide,” Crawford said.
Crawford said she couldn’t decide whether the lack of specific plans for the homelessness money in the measure would ultimately be helpful or hurtful as the city tries to combat the problem. She also questioned whether it was appropriate to commit to the four-decade hotel-tax hike and whether it would be better for the city to pursue a measure entirely focused on its homelessness crisis.
Leticia Fernandez, 57, of Linda Vista came to a different conclusion amid her own questions about Measure C: “No, no, absolutely no.”
Fernandez said she is concerned that homelessness has seemed to rise as the city spends more on the problem – and that street repairs aren’t materializing despite many promises from politicians.
“I think we’re being misled,” Fernandez said.
Hillcrest resident Joe Ortega, who turned in his ballot at the Mission Valley Library on Tuesday morning, was more focused on supporting the Convention Center expansion that Measure C promises to fund.
“I’d like to see it expand and get more money into the hotel industry,” Ortega said.
Ortega, a supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden, said he was also eager to do his part to “get rid of Trump.”
Mission Valley resident Everett Leonard, 80, said the promise of a Convention Center expansion also inspired his yes vote on Measure C.
“Of course, I voted yes,” Leonard said. “I’d really like to see the Convention Center expanded.”
But Leonard, 80, admitted he was concerned about whether two-thirds of city voters would agree with him.
East Village resident Richard McNamee, who I caught up with outside affordable housing complex Alpha Square, said he was hopeful that fellow voters would back Measure C – particularly because it increases taxes for visitors rather than taxpayers.
“I think that’s a good idea,” McNamee said. “Have the tourists pay for our improvements.”
While he was skeptical about the need for a Convention Center expansion, 89-year-old McNamee was adamant that more resources are needed to address homelessness. McNamee said he was twice evicted and nearly became homeless himself.
Gaslamp resident James Torrence, who I ran into near his polling place at the Chabad of Downtown, had a different view on Measure C.
While Torrence said he believes the city needs more money to tackle the crisis, he was concerned about business interests’ involvement in crafting the measure and what he decided was a lack of accountability and specifics on how its homelessness money would be doled out.
“Our leaders need to plan a little better,” Torrence said.