Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox appears with a live bear during a campaign event in San Diego on May 11, 2021. / Photo courtesy of

The good news: This year is over at last! The bad news: Just about everything else. But even as we worried our way through 2021, San Diegans had plenty to say. Here’s a sampling of a few memorable quotes:

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say… Come Sit By Me!

• “Well, let’s not get carried away here. Let’s just see how it goes with you.” – County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher to Jim Desmond, a fellow supervisor and ideological rival, after praising the new members of the Board of Supervisors in January.

• “I think they are brainwashed into thinking something that isn’t real.” – San Diego Councilwoman Jen Campbell, who survived a recall attempt, on critics who say the city should just ban Airbnb-style rentals for good.

I’ll say no to brainwashing, but a light brain rinse sounds positively refreshing.

• “Rhetorical hyperbole, vigorous epithets, expressions of contempt, and language used in a loose, figurative sense have all been accorded constitutional protection.” – Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil, throwing out a defamation suit against the city attorney over campaign claims.

“Rhetorical hyperbole, vigorous epithets, expressions of contempt, and language used in a loose, figurative sense.” Or as I like to call it, lunch.

Big Announcements

Dude, I’m not dead.” – Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s response on Twitter to former San Diego Councilman David Alvarez announcing plans to run for Assembly without asking if she was going to run.

Caltrans: Write Right. Not Wrong Way.

“A wrong-way driver would not even see the sign. It is facing the wrong way.” – a user on Reddit commenting on the bizarrely worded local freeway signs that urged drivers to “SAVE LIVES/DRIVE SOBER/NOT WRONG WAY.”

Recalling the Recall

• “I’m a much better speller now.”– Vista governor candidate Daniel Watts who ran on a platform of eliminating tuition for public higher education. He appeared on “Wheel of Fortune” in 2003 and failed to solve the puzzle “EN_O_ THE SHOW.” One of his guesses: “Endog the show?”

• “Beastly solutions” – a promise from Rancho Santa Fe governor candidate John Cox, who tooled around town with an actual Kodiak bear.

• “No person shall offer for sale, give away, bring into or maintain within an area coming within the jurisdiction of this ordinance, any lion, tiger, bear, monkey, wolf, cougar, ocelot, wildcat, skunk…” – a San Diego city animal ordinance that had an exception for zoos but not Republicans.

•  “In 2018 Gavin Newsom won the Governorship by 62%-38%. Mark my words: when all the votes are counted, we believe the recall will show Newsom has LOST a chunk of that margin!” – conservative talk-show host Carl DeMaio, predicting the results of the governor recall election. Newsom actually won with… 62% of the vote.

• “A reason I’d be bad at politics is, if I were Newsom, I’d give my televised victory speech in a tight shot, then, as I’m wrapping up, the camera pulls back to reveal I’ve been seated at The French Laundry the entire time.” – local Twitter user Michael Tae Sweeney.

Trump? Um… Hey, Look Over There!

 • It’s a hypothetical question, obviously.” – former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, refusing to say whether he’d want an endorsement in the governor recall race from former President Donald Trump. Faulconer supported Trump in 2020.

• “I think it’s safe to say if he won’t say that he wants it that he likely doesn’t deserve it.” – Donald Trump Jr., on Twitter.

Music to Our Ears?

• “Singer-songfarmer.” – Singer Jason Mraz’s description of himself now that he’s growing coffee plants in North County.

Guess it really is all about the wordplay.

• “There’s so much we can do. It’s all happening on the Zoo.”  – Lyrics from “The Great Adventure,” a song written and performed by singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins for a TV channel created by the San Diego Zoo and Rady Children’s Hospital for young patients

Needs more Messina.

The More Things Change…

“Strolling down Fifth in the evening, the ear is rasped by notes from asthmatic pianos, discordant fiddles and drunken voices boisterously singing ribald songs. Noses are offended by garlic, swill and fried meat coming from some chophouse. The eye is pained to see men lying drunk on every corner… it is fully as bad as the Barbary Coast in San Francisco.” – the San Diego Union complaining about downtown nightlife in 1887, per a VOSD history flashback.

Even worse, it takes 20 minutes to find an open spot to park your horse.

Department of Crime and Punishment

• “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for home and battle…. Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR-15 type rifle.” – local federal Judge Roger Benitez in a ruling that threw out California’s assault weapon ban.

My Swiss Army Knife has faithfully defended me against many an unopened bottle.

• “This was nacho average DUI crash. The DUI driver crashed into the @tacobell in San Ysirdo. First lettuce taco about DUI. Not to spill the beans but in 2018 29% of traffic deaths were bcuz of DUI.” – one of a series of tweets about a car crash from the San Diego Police Department. They were soon deleted.

Mistweets were made.

“Apparently that disclosure isn’t a violation of HIPPO.” – L.A. Times reporter Phil Willon after the governor announced that two San Diego Zoo gorillas were infected with COVID-19.

Yes, police? I’d like to report a language crime. I swear, I’m not lion! [Click] Hello?!

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported a Twitter exchange involving Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s “Dude, I’m not dead” reply was directed at former San Diego Councilman David Alvarez. She did not direct the reply at former Councilwoman Georgette Gómez.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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