College Area residents cast their votes on Election Day. / Photos by Bella Ross

Community members in the College Area who cast their ballots Tuesday cited homelessness and housing as the most pressing issues in San Diego and their motivation for coming out.

“I definitely think the San Diego homeless population is a huge issue,” Sara Boquan, 45, said. “I work in Barrio Logan, I live here. I see it and I think it needs to be a holistic approach. I don’t think housing is the only answer to it.”

Boquan voted for Barbara Bry for mayor and Georgette Gómez for the 53rd Congressional District, which includes the neighborhoods around San Diego State University’s campus. Boquan works in education and said Gómez would be particularly good for higher ed.

“I appreciate her politics and her perspective,” Boquan said. “I think Susan Davis definitely left huge shoes to fill. Susan Davis was a huge supporter of education and I think Georgette Gómez is as well.”

Julie Hamilton, who was decked out in her “Vote Twice” shirt to encourage participation in primary elections, said she cast her vote for Bry.

“I don’t have a strong opinion on short-term rentals, but she’s really the only candidate who took it on,” Hamilton said. “She was the first one to really start raising issues on 101 Ash Street by saying, ‘Wait a minute, why are we doing this? We need to look closer.’”

When it comes to Bry’s main rivals in the mayoral race, Scott Sherman and Todd Gloria, Hamilton said, “their positions change with whatever direction the wind blows.”

Bry proved to be a popular choice among several College Area community members. Rhiannon Jones, 42, said her vote for Bry came down to the candidate’s stance on AB 5, a state law limiting when employers can classify workers as independent contractors, because she works as an independent contractor.

“I had difficulty choosing between her and Todd Gloria, but I ended up voting for Barbara Bry partially because they have different stances on AB 5 – not that the mayor can do a whole lot about that,” Jones said.

Jones added that she’s also met Bry and enjoyed her on a personal level.

On SDSU’s campus, Juan Moran, 48, said he voted for Sherman, even though he doesn’t think Sherman will win in the general election. Homelessness and housing were Moran’s biggest concerns.

“I actually voted for Scott Sherman because I actually got to meet the person,” Moran said. “Even though he’s not going to win the (mayoral race), I voted for him because I thought he was a good guy and he’s been in politics for a while. But I know, more likely, he’s not going to win.”

As for the congressional race, Jones said she found Sara Jacobs to be the most qualified and well aligned with her values. As mother of a middle school-aged child, she said, gun safety is a priority.

“I went through everything on her website and I liked her stances on everything,” Jones said. “I know she cares very deeply about gun safety like I do. I know she’s very qualified and I know she’s very good on international relations, which I think is important for somebody who’s going to be in Congress.”

Many of the voters I spoke to Tuesday, though, said local issues had largely taken a backseat to the presidential race. The opportunity to oust President Donald Trump was all the reason they needed to come out.

Some SDSU students left their ballots half-filled, or they voted for candidates they weren’t even familiar with. David Sigel, a junior and computer science major, was among them.

“I recognize the importance of local elections,” he said. “I would encourage all of my friends to be active in figuring out who they want to vote for in local elections just as much as they want to vote in the nationals. But this is my first time voting in this district so I’m not really sure.”

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