Barbara Bry Cindy Marten Faulconer San Diego
From left: Former Councilwoman Barbara Bry, San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten and former Mayor Kevin Faulconer / Photos by Adriana Heldiz

In 2020, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. Locally, anger rose along with awareness of wrongdoing, and plenty of people let loose on each other. On the bright side … well, there wasn’t really a bright side. Even apes were frustrated, as you’ll see. Here’s a look back at the year in memorable quotes:

Women Let Loose on Touchy Topics

• “We had a mayor who decided to run the city by press conference. He never wanted to connect with anyone he felt unsafe with.” – Francine Maxwell, president of the NAACP San Diego Branch, on failed attempts to meet with Mayor Kevin Faulconer

• “That area is a slum. We will shed blood if anybody tries to enlarge that choice beyond that area.” – November voter Geraldine Walker, who supported an exemption to the city’s coastal height limit for the Midway District – but only the Midway District

• “[Democratic Party leadership training for women] didn’t prepare us for this bullshit. Even with in-depth training, it knocks you off your feet.” – Tiffany Boyd-Hodgson, a North County water board candidate who reported harassment from an opponent (whom she beat like a drum)

• “They pulled the rug out from under my kid. That should be the class you save. If you find a girl who is interested in calculus, you don’t squash that. You nurture that.” – Zuri Williams, a parent whose daughter’s AP Calculus at San Diego’s troubled Lincoln High was suddenly cancelled – something that hurt her academic career and would be unlikely at many other campuses

• “As the campaign progressed, I became more aware of what I will quite frankly, call a culture of corruption. And it was the special interests in this town who have benefited from this over the years. Who’ve spent a lot of money, uh, beating me.” – Failed mayoral candidate Barbara Bry, after the election

• “This contract has been a disappointing experience.. During the last year, we have come to understand from reliable sources that the navigation center project was orchestrated more as a public relations undertaking than a needed and important component of a homeless continuum.” – Fran Butler-Cohen, CEO of Family Health Centers, in a blistering email to the city about a partnership that soon fell apart

Newspaper’s No. 2 Suggestion Makes Quite a Stink

• “Bry might well be a tougher manager who is better at making City Hall more transparent and accountable — perhaps a Mayor Gloria could use a chief of staff like her.” – A U-T editorial endorsing Gloria

• “It’s a striking example of sexism. This is the bias that millions of women have been fighting our whole lives.” – Bry in a response about the editorial to the U-T

Mayor on Trump: Ugh, He’s Godawful. Oh Wait, He’s Great!

• “I could never vote for Trump. His divisive rhetoric is unacceptable and I just could never support him.” – Mayor Kevin Faulconer on June 6, 2016 (NBC 7)

• “I voted for the president. I thought he was going to be the best for the economy.” – Faulconer to the L.A. Times on Dec. 7, 2020

Give This One an A For Effort

The state of our district tonight is unstoppable!” – San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten in her state-of-the-district speech in November, when traditional education had … stopped.

Politics Is Who You Know … and When You Know

I was the first person to ask for it, and I got it.” – Carlsbad political consultant Kevin Sabellico, 22, on how he managed to get a plumb gig as an elector in the Electoral College by asking his congressman – back in 2019

The Personal Cost of the Pandemic

“My mom never complains. She’s of that generation, and she’s a Texan. But she’s now reflecting in our conversations, ‘What is there to live for?’” – Jan Thompson, daughter of 95-year-old Ruth Bailey, on her mother’s isolation in a Lemon Grove nursing home during a COVID-19 lockdown

Department of Lorena Gonzalez

• “F*ck Elon Musk.” – Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in a tweet that got nearly 200,000 likes. (To be clear, Gonzalez, not VOSD, is responsible for the asterisk.) She followed up by tweeting that “California has highly subsidized a company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union busting & bullies public servants. I probably could’ve expressed my frustration in a less aggressive way. Of course, no one would’ve cared if I tweeted that.”

• “[Writers] were right. I was wrong.” – Gonzalez on the backlash from freelance writers who lost work due to the landmark labor law AB5. She supported a fix. [Disclosure: I spearheaded a lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of freelancers.]

Department of Newspaper Apologies

• “Across the decades, few outside the White male establishment have not been dismissed or disadvantaged at one time or another by the Union-Tribune.” – Jeff Light, publisher and editor of the U-T, in a public apology

• “For at least its first 80 years, the Los Angeles Times was an institution deeply rooted in white supremacy and committed to promoting the interests of the city’s industrialists and landowners.” – an editorial apology in the Los Angeles Times

At Least No One Demanded a Duel (Yet)

• “#MAGA #AmericaFirst cc: Condescending upper middle class elites like @vosdscott and @SDuncovered who have abandoned the American working class while pretending to care about the same. #truth.” – Tony Kvaric, head of the county Republican Party and hashtag enthusiast, referring to VOSD CEO/editor in chief Scott Lewis and Matt Hall, editorial page director at the U-T.

• “I work every day to make payroll for 17 people. Your rich ass spends all day thinking up new ways to lick the boots of a demigod while your organization withers. Get in your panzer and drive off already.” – Lewis’ response

2020 Gotta 2020

• “It’s not worth a lifetime of BAD KARMA!” – A flier offering a reward for the return of a stolen Buddha statue

• “Make Carne Asada Burritos $5 Again.” – Slogan on a red cap, per a post on the San Diego section of Reddit

• “An exciting moment of interaction.” – The San Diego Zoo’s description of an October incident when gorillas in an exhibit got into a rumble and broke a layer of the window glass separating the animals from people

Even the gorillas are sick of this year.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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