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The gatherings the two local parties hold on election night are, by definition, political functions. Democrats and Republicans both – a few blocks apart from each other – rent out hotel ballrooms to celebrate their candidates’ various triumphs and rally the troops heading into November.

That’s why it was so jarring when judicial candidates got on stage at both parties with expressly partisan messages.

Judge-elect Alana Wong Robinson thanked the Democratic Party on stage at their party and even said, “Go Dems!” It was an easily avoidable bit of bad optics for someone who has twice been accused in court papers – including once this week – of being biased against former Rep. Duncan Hunter because she supports Democrats.

Her opponent, Mark Skeels, was even more overtly partisan when he appeared at the Republicans’ gathering Tuesday night. He railed against “San Francisco” judges (huh?) and said he’d enforce the law from a “conservative” perspective – then promised to enforce immigration laws, which is something Superior Court judges … don’t do.

Just a day later, four members of the City Council announced they want to seek a ballot measure to change the system guiding how city officials receive legal advice. The current system, in which an elected city attorney provides legal counsel, “is ill-advised and does not serve either the city’s officials or its citizens well,” they wrote.

A day after that, a federal judge made jaw-dropping and unprecedented findings about Attorney General William Barr as he presides over a case seeking the publishing of an unredacted copy of the Mueller report. The judge – appointed by President George W. Bush – says Barr fed a “one-sided narrative” to the public that was at express odds with the truth.

All of this happened within the span of three days.

It all stood in stark contrast to another bit of local legal news that happened less than six months ago.

As District Attorney Summer Stephan was weighing whether to leave the Republican Party.

“I want to make sure every person out there knows that I’m their people’s prosecutor. And if having a party makes one person out there feel that they can’t get a fair justice, that worries me,” Stephan told us.

Less than two weeks later, she changed her affiliation to no party preference.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Hey, not sure you heard but THERE WAS AN ELECTION THIS WEEK.

We talked to voters at polling places in central San Diego, College Area, North County and the South Bay about the biggest issues motivating them.

The 53rd District congressional race is already drawing national attention because of the two candidates’ starkly different backgrounds. Measure C still looks close but might not meet the required two-thirds threshold – so here’s what happens next. It’s not clear who will take the No. 2 spot in the mayor’s race, but here’s what either possibility could tell us about where the city is at. Scott Lewis found a thread of consistency in voters’ apparent rejection of Measure A and B. And members of the business community are still trading barbs over Measure A even after its likely defeat.

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Amid the election coverage and coronavirus panic, you might not have seen this well-reported – and actually uplifting! – story about an elementary school in City Heights that’s defying the odds by closing the achievement gap between wealthy and poor students.

In less uplifting education news, residents are suing Poway Unified over its Prop. 51 state bond spending. And school officials are worried about the changes they might have to make under AB 5, since many of the coaches, instructors and other school workers they hire are contractors.

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In other government news, the state law requiring companies to include a woman on their board of directors sure seems to be working in San Diego.

Meanwhile, the city has reshuffled management over the troubled 101 Ash St. project.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“They always seem so presidential, and then, every time, like clockwork, the second they enter the race, it turns out that something is the matter with them and that a vote for them would betray the ideals I hold dearest.” – This column from 128 years in the future sure sounds familiar!

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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