File illustration by Adriana Heldiz

Let’s face it, ballot guides are helpful for when voters are in a pinch staring down the dozens of little bubbles on their ballots, but they don’t allow nearly enough room for the full complexities of local races.

What candidates hired private investigators to follow their opponents? Which ones changed their positions on ballot measures? What bonds are strikingly similar to past ones? And which candidates are losing support because of changing priorities?

If you ask us, that’s the good stuff. The kind of content that helps voters make informed decisions on what candidates best represent their interests. That’s why we’ve rounded up all our election stories on some of the hottest races in this helpful San Diego Election Hub. 

Bonus: Our editors ran through this year’s ballot on the VOSD Podcast. Listen here.

San Diego City Council

Of the four San Diego City Council races, just one is for an open seat. Given the power of incumbency, that open District 6 race is the one we’ve been especially interested in. The seat is also open after Councilman Chris Cate, the last remaining Republican in city elected office, has termed out. With both candidates in the November runoff as Democrats, no matter who wins, the seat is turning blue.

Like everywhere else in the city, housing-related issues have emerged as the key issues in District 6. Both candidates — Kent Lee, director of the Pacific Arts Movement, and Tommy Hough, a county planning commissioner — have stressed that they have nuanced views on housing, but their views on development represent the clearest divide in the race.

Lee, endorsed by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and the San Diego County Democratic Party, has emerged as the YIMBY-aligned candidate. Hough, endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, has appealed to a familiar, NIMBY-leaning coalition.

Consistent with that divide, they’ve fallen on different sides of a ballot measure that would reform the city’s trash collection law, with rhetoric reflecting a yes-no political spectrum that will be familiar to anyone who followed the 2020 mayor’s race.

Bonus: Voice’s Jesse Marx moderated a debate between the candidates at Politifest 2022. Listen to the full discussion here or watch it below.

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San Diego Unified School District Board and Measure U

In 2020, San Diego voters approved Measure C, which changed board elections from city-wide races to ones in which the residents of each sub-district elected board members. The change was seen as a way to level the playing field and give candidates with less resources a chance to be more competitive.

November’s election will be the first to use those new rules. Voters will put two new members on the five-person San Diego Unified Board of Education.

Click below to read our profile on each of the candidates.

The school district is also going to ask voters to allow it to borrow $3.2 billion to fund projects across its facilities. This ask would give the district the power to levy a tax on property owners of up to six cents per $100 of assessed value — or about $480 a year on the median priced home — though board members have stressed that this won’t represent an immediate tax increase on households in the district, because it will replace an expiring tax measure.

McWhinney explains why voters might feel a bit of déjà vu when they read the language of Measure U — it’s the fourth measure in 14 years, and many of the infrastructure investments listed in the measure have been included in those previous measures, too.

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Midway Height Limit

Two years ago, city voters approved a measure that would remove the Midway-Pacific Highway community plan area from the coastal height limit — a restriction approved by voters in 1972 that prevented new buildings above 30 feet in the area north of downtown, west of I-5.

But a group called Save Our Access sued, arguing the city needed to analyze the loss of views for surrounding areas before putting the measure on the ballot, and a judge agreed. The city thinks it has fixed its error this time around, so it’s asking voters the same question it asked two years ago.

The measure is not strictly about the redevelopment of the Sports Arena — where the city earlier this year selected a developer to build thousands of homes, including homes reserved for low-income residents, and to build a new arena — but that’s included in the area, and the city and developer argue the project requires the change.

The history of that Sports Arena project casts a shadow across the measure — as Scott Lewis described earlier this year, before the arena, that area was a neighborhood called Frontier, with thousands of homes built to accommodate a previous generation’s housing crisis.

Mayor Wants Midway Rising Team to Redevelop Sports Arena Land

This post originally appeared in the Aug. 23 Morning Report. Get our latest stories and roundup of local news in your inbox by subscribing today. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced Monday that he has chosen to recommend the Midway Rising team to redevelop the nearly 50 acres of land the city owns on Sports…

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Politics Report: The Midway Redo

As part of their effort to interview all the candidates for local positions, the Union-Tribune’s editorial board asked Councilwoman Jen Campbell how she will combat the high cost of housing in San Diego.   She acknowledged that costs were way too high and we needed to do more. She said her opponents in the race –…

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You May Never Look at the Sports Arena the Same Again

There was once a thriving, diverse neighborhood in the Midway Area called Frontier. It came because of a severe housing crisis, squalor in the streets and federal intervention but neighbors and the city always hated it. The arena there now is a landmark of a successful effort to re-segregate the city and erase Frontier.

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San Diego Sheriff

The campaign for San Diego County sheriff is one of the most high-profile in the county, as it’ll choose the leader of the law enforcement agency for the unincorporated county and every city without a police force. The agency also manages county jails, where years of inmate deaths have stacked up and have become one of the top issues in the race.

Without an incumbent on the ballot, it’s also an open contest for the first time in decades. The position hasn’t been held by a Democrat in recent history, which could change if Undersheriff Kelly Martinez, who has locked up support from many of the region’s establishment entities, defeats John Hemmerling, the former head of the city attorney’s misdemeanor prosecution unit.

Whoever wins this race will serve a six-year term, after the state legislature passed a law that aligned sheriff and district attorney elections with presidential cycles, where voter turnout is higher.

We hosted sheriff candidates Kelly Martinez and John Hemmerling at Politifest for a lively debate on some of the office’s most pressing issues.

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The People’s Ordinance

Trash used to be valuable and almost 100 years ago San Diegans were furious to learn someone was selling it to businesses in Los Angeles. They passed a law requiring the city to collect it.

The city was eventually supposed to charge a fee but the law was changed to not allow the collection of a fee if people were able to get their trash to the street. That now means that the vast majority of single-family home resident in San Diego do not pay a special fee for trash collection, while almost all apartment or condo-dwellers must pay private companies to haul their trash away.

Measure B would change this law, allowing the city to go through the process of adding a new fee for trash collection. If they did so they could generate some $40 million to $70 million to cover what the city currently pays out of its general fund to collect trash. It could also charge a fee so that it could finally comply with a state law requiring cities to collect food waste from residents.

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County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk

One of the four countywide elected positions, County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk is the most hotly contested it’s been in recent history after the retirement of longtime office holder Ernest Dronenburg. The role handles property tax assessments — and the process of appealing those assessments — and issues birth, marriage and death certificates.

Former San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry ran for the office after losing her bid for the mayor’s office, and quickly patched up whatever disagreements she had with the region’s Democratic establishment from that race and sewed up support from most of that side of the aisle.

Jordan Marks, a county chief deputy assessor, has worked under Dronenburg and argues he’ll continue to keep the machine running at what he considered a well run, professional operation. Bry has focused on a scandal out of the office that didn’t generate much media attention at the time as evidence that the office needs a shake up, and our Lisa Halverstadt dug through court records to explain what happened in that case.

Why Assessor Candidates Flipped on Abortion, Coastal Height Limit

One of the fiercest debates at Politifest this year featured the two candidates for the obscure office of county assessor/recorder/clerk. Jordan Marks, a Republican, who works in the office now as taxpayer advocate and former City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, a Democrat, who ran for mayor in 2020, had some intense criticisms for each other, their…

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South Bay Mayors

The race for mayor in Chula Vista has been interesting to watch. Candidates Ammar Campa-Najjar and John McCann have some big differences. 

Campa-Najjar spent a good chunk of his time running for a seat in North County, which has opened him up to criticism over his interest in running in Chula Vista and residency questions — McCann hired a private investigator to follow his opponent, but that didn’t work out so well. 

Campa-Najjar, though, told us at a recent live podcast that he’s proud of his Chula Vista roots and that he definitely lives in the city. He’s concerned with the city’s ever growing problem with hiring and retaining police officers, but also wants to make sure firefighters get paid more for the work they do. 

McCann is currently a council member. He has some ideas for addressing the city’s police recruitment problems. Grab a snack and listen to their live debate here.

Meanwhile in National City … three candidates are in this race. That’s current Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, former mayor and current council member Ron Morrison and council member Jose Rodriguez. 

The three also joined us for a live debate, and it was hot.

Politics Report: South Bay Rumbles

If Alejandra Sotelo-Solis wins re-election as National City mayor, it won’t be because things have been easy for her. She lost the support of many labor unions. (Not the firefighters! As she’ll point out.) She lost the Democratic Party. And this week she faced perhaps the most personal setback among setbacks when her longtime ally,…

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VOSD Podcast: Live! at Politifest South

To kickoff Politifest 2022, we put on a special, first-ever Politifest South: a two-part podcast recorded in front of a live audience at the Emo Brown Foundation focused on the biggest races of South County. Part One: National City National City mayoral candidates Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and City Councilmembers Ron Morrison and Jose Rodriguez covered…

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