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In a quiet election cycle in the city of San Diego, the District 2 City Council seat could be the most-watched race at City Hall, but voters who spoke to Voice of San Diego weren’t fired up about up incumbent Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell or major challengers Joel Day, Mandy Havlik, Linda Lukacs or Lori Saldaña – or any of the candidates on their primary ballots, for that matter.
“I’m not too thrilled about anybody I voted for to tell you the truth,” Ocean Beach resident John O’Neil said Tuesday morning as he left the Ocean Beach Recreation Center.
O’Neil, 75, said he ultimately voted for Campbell because he “didn’t like the other ones, basically.”
Campbell is vying to hold onto her seat representing the district that includes Clairemont, Ocean Beach and Point Loma.
Debates over dense housing development, long elusive but recently approved vacation rental regulations pushed by Campbell, the redevelopment of the city’s Sports Arena property in the Midway District and homelessness are major issues in the district and are also major contention points in the District 2 City Council race.
Campbell last year survived an unsuccessful recall effort over her approach to her post.
Former state Assemblywoman Saldaña, dentist Lukacs, Peninsula Community Planning Board member Havlik and former city boards and commissions chief Day argue they could better serve the coastal district. The race is dominated by Democrats. Lukacs is the only Republican running for the District 2 seat.
Clairemont resident Ted Young, who I met outside Clairemont Covenant Church just after 8 a.m. Tuesday, said he was looking for “something different” when he filled out his ballot.
The 59-year-old ultimately decided to vote for Day after reading more about his background and past experience at City Hall and UC San Diego.
“I was waffling because I think Jen Campbell is good and Lori Saldaña is good, but after reading up more on Day, I went with Day,” Young said.
A few minutes later, fellow Clairemont resident D.J. Brancheau, 51, told me he was also looking for a change though he acknowledged he’s not entirely dissatisfied with how things have been going in the district. He is, however, unhappy with the overall direction of the city.
Brancheau said he was particularly impressed with Lukacs’s experience as a dentist and dental hygiene professor and decided to vote for her.
“I went outside the norm of what I normally do,” Brancheau said.
My next stop was the South Clairemont Recreation Center, where I met 57-year-old Clairemont resident William Jones, who also voted for Lukacs.
The former Democrat said he was also unhappy about the direction of the city, which is now led almost entirely by Democrats, and hoped Lukacs could bring a more conservative perspective.
“I think the city of San Diego is messed up,” Jones said.
Fellow Clairemont resident Vanessa Martinez, 24, later told me she was more optimistic about Campbell, who she voted for after reading candidate interviews by the Union-Tribune’s editorial board.
Martinez said she appreciated Campbell’s perspectives on addressing homelessness.
“I was looking for someone who was going to take care of homelessness in a very empathetic way,” Martinez said.
Thomas Schlegel, 72, who I met later outside the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, was quick to tell me who he backed over Campbell though he said he wasn’t “totally hostile” to the sitting councilwoman.
“I voted for Lori Saldaña because I’m an old timer,” he said. “I feel good about her historically.”
Schlegel was referencing Saldaña’s track record as a former three-term state assemblywoman first elected in 2004.
After chatting with Schlegel, I headed to a very picturesque polling place: the Southwestern Yacht Club in Point Loma.
There, I met 61-year-old Point Loman Maria Plum who said she’d like to see the city and district address rising public safety concerns and work to make the city more clean and efficient. She decided Lukacs was the best candidate for the job.
“To be honest, I checked who the Republican pick was,” Plum said.
Plum didn’t want her photo taken so here’s a view from her polling place. You’re welcome.
Gail Hutcheson, 67, walked to the yacht club with a visiting friend and sister-in-law to drop off her ballot. Hutcheson said she’s passionate about the Midway redevelopment and hopes the city manages to remove the coastal height limit in the area that now limits options there.
“You have to put the housing somewhere,” Hutcheson said.
She voted for Day and looks forward to hearing more from both Day and Campbell about this and other issues. She expected that Campbell, who has the incumbent advantage, would make it to the general election.
“It seemed like two good people to have for a runoff,” said Hutcheson, who also declined to have her photo taken.
Fellow Point Loman Vickie Randle, 66, rode her bike to the polls on Tuesday.
Randle said she voted for Campbell because she’s convinced the incumbent is compassionate about aiding homeless San Diegans and addressing health care and food needs.
“I liked all of her positions on all efforts to help those who are so much in need,” Randle said.