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Hotly-Contested District 4 Election Less Than A Week Away

May 15, 2013 1:22 p.m.


Myrtle Cole, Senior Care Advocate

Related Story: Hotly-Contested District 4 Election Less Than A Week Away


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. There's a runoff election coming up in the 4th San Diego City Council District next week. Two candidates remain from what was a crowded field vying for the seat vacated by former councilman Tony Young. District 4 covers eastern and southeastern San Diego, the neighborhoods of Emerald Hills, Encanto, Bay Terrace, Valencia, We invited the candidates Myrtle Cole and Dwayne Crenshaw to join us today. Both accepted. But a half hour before the show started, Dwayne Crenshaw canceled. So Myrtle Cole is here, former office manager for councilman Tony Young, welcome to the show.

COLE: Thank you for having me.

CAVANAUGH: One of the things that separates you and Dwayne Crenshaw is that your opponent has a very specific outline of what he plans to do in his first year in office. What do you intend to accomplish within that first year?

COLE: Well, first, he has had ten years to plan that. This is his fifth time running for office. Third time running for the 4th City Council District. So when you have ten years to plan, I'm sure that you should have a plan. My plan is to work with civic San Diego, diamond BID, and community leaders, developers, labor, to make sure that we have jobs and services in our district. I'm going to make sure that this process for getting a permit is streamlined. We can attract more investors like that. So I want jobs and services in our community. We spent over $1.6billion In District 4, and $807million went outside of our districts for apparel, electronics, retail. So have to bring those bases back into our districts. So I plan to meet with Civic San Diego and sit down and have a specific plan of bricking those services into our community. I've already given two names to the mayor to put on the Board of Directors in our community to make sure that they sit with Civic San Diego and identify some projects that we can get in and have shovel-ready projects in our community.

CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you about something that I know you don't like the idea of, bringing a Walmart into the District 4 neighborhood. You're opposed to that. But as you say, so many dollars in District 4 going outside the district to buy all of those things, groceries, electronics, and all of those. Many of those dollars one might assume are going to big-box stores in other areas of the City of San Diego. Target, Walmart. So don't you think that a big-box store in District 4 might be the answer to that?

COLE: You know, I don't mind thinking about a Target or a Vons or Ralph's. We do have a Ralph's in Paradise Hills. They're good-paying jobs. That's what we need in our district. We need good-paying jobs. Jobs where employees like their jobs, that have good benefits. We don't need poverty wages. And that's what continues in our district. We have poverty wages. We need to bring those big boxes that respect their employees, that pay good wages and benefits. And I will welcome them. I will welcome them.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. You say you see yourself as an heir to former District 4 councilman Charles Lewis and George Stevens. How do you intend to pick up that mantel?

COLE: You know, I stand on their shoulders. What I do, I saw what George Stevens came in, things started changing in Direct 4. The respect came back. He demanded people to say not just southeastern or not just southeast San Diego, but southeastern. Little things he started doing to bring that respect. Charles did the same thing. Charles and George Stevens had a love and a passion for this district that I carry because I was with Charles every single day when I ran his campaign to get elected. And I felt that passion, and that's what I carry, and that's what I bring into the 4th Council District, the passion and the love for my residents. And I want us to do better, I want us to have a better quality of life and move to a higher level

CAVANAUGH: And hasn't District 4 though changed since the days of George Stevens and even Charles Lewis? It's even more diverse in population. How will you represent that change?

COLE: Absolutely. We have 42% Latinos, we have 24% Asians, we have 20% African Americans. It has changed. But I represent people. I will represent all people in my district. I will have a diverse staff that will reflect the district. That's what I will have. And everyone needs a good-paying job, everyone needs health benefits, everyone needs groceries and to be able to shop in their own district. That's what everyone needs.

CAVANAUGH: You've been promoting something that you call the Gaslamp East vision. What is that?

COLE: Charles Lewis had the Gaslamp East vision in 2002, and I was with him every day, and I saw his vision. The vision is basically -- imperial avenue corridor, it's mixed-use. On top would be modern urban housing. On the bottom will be restaurants like your seafood restaurant, Mexican restaurants, restaurants that can you sit down and have a date night with your wife or husband and have a glass of Chardonnay or a cappuccino and sit down outside, like a sidewalk cafe style, just like the Gaslamp. Also there would be retail, you can walk down the street and maybe get a birthday card for your spouse or children. We need things like that in our district because, again, we go outside of our district to spend our dollars to do that. We want to Gaslamp east in our district. We want to be able to have restaurant, have people from other district, other cities to come into our district, come into Gaslamp east and spend their dollars in our district.

CAVANAUGH: Now, there's a rally today in District 4, it's going to be urging the San Diego City Council to increase the linkage fee. Of that's the fee developers pay that's supposed to fund the building of affordable homes. What's your position on increasing this so-called linkage fee?

COLE: I do support that. And I will be at the rally today to support it. We need more affordable housing. But we also need other options. And when I get into City Council, I will look thea other options also to create more affordable housing in Council District 4, but I do support increasing linkage fees to go into the affordable housing trust fund.

CAVANAUGH: You're supported by the San Diego Democratic Party, the labor council, mayor Bob Filner, among others. If you're elected, how do you intend to maintain an independent voice on the City Council?

COLE: What some of those people you named -- they want the same things that I do for my district, and for their district. We want liveable communities. We want to be able to have walkable neighborhoods. We want a better quality of life. The mayor wants that for the City of San Diego. And he wants that for Council District 4. That's what he wants. So that's what we will work on. That's exactly what I want. So that's why I am so honored to have their support because they know that we've been neglected in District 4, and they will work with me to make sure those needs occur.

CAVANAUGH: A mailer was sent by the group, the labor council that endorses you. This implied your opponent, Dwayne Crenshaw sold out the community by spending money apparently from a legal settlement on law school. Do you stand by the accusations in that mailer?

COLE: I didn't see that -- I have not seen that mailer. I don't know anything about that mailer. It did not come from our camp.

CAVANAUGH: You have not seen it at all?

COLE: No, there are, some things I don't look at. I'm too busy walking to voters in my district to look at mailers.

CAVANAUGH: Haven't you heard the controversy about this particular mailer?

COLE: There's been several. There's been several mailers they was told that have been out. But I don't even address those issues. I'm just trying to walk to voters, talk to voters, and get them to vote for Myrtle Cole on May21st.

CAVANAUGH: If Dwayne Crenshaw had kept his appointment to be here today, we agreed to interview the two of you separately. And you're certainly not the first political candidates to ask for that. But there's been a lot of animosity in this race. Why is that?

COLE: I believe that this is his third time running, and he's desperate. Third time running for a District 4 seat, and he's desperate. So the attacks are just something that I'm not used to. And I don't want to be in a room with people that attack me. I just want to address the issues. That's all I want to do. At every single forum, at every single meeting, just want to address the issues. And that does not happen. I get attacked.

CAVANAUGH: One of the things that you are called in this is an outsider of District 4 because you have to change your residence to the old boundaries of District 4 where this particular election is taking place. How do you respond to those charges?

COLE: Council member Marty Emerald left district 7 to run in district 9. No one said anything about that. Council president Todd Gloria moved into his district to be able to run in council district 3, no one said anything about that. Bob Filner lived in Chula Vista to run for mayor in San Diego. I'm in good company.

CAVANAUGH: All right then! I'm wondering if, as I said, is this a sort of an animosity between Dwayne Crenshaw and you, it's a hard-fought race. But I wonder if that says anything to us about your ability to get along and work with difficult people at City Hall. &%F0

COLE: You know, I've been on this earth for quite a while. I can get along with anyone and everyone, and I will get along with the council members at City Hall. There's no doubt about it. I will. I'm endorsed right now by David Alvarez, by Todd Gloria, I've spoken with Sherri Lightner, Marti Emerald, and I will get along with Scott Sherman because that's what I do. That's my nature. And we will agree to disagree without being desperate and attacking each other. I don't think that's going to happen on City Council. We will agree to disagree.

CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you one last question, myrtle, and that is sort of a wrap-up question. Why should people vote for you?

COLE: Because I am the candidate that has the integrity, I have been supported by so many different people that know my history, that know my work ethics. Juan Vargas, Congressman, Christine Kehoe, people I've worked with. They know my work ethics. Juan Vargas walked with me last week. You don't do that unless they believe and trust in someone. And they trust and believe in Myrtle Cole. And that's what will make a difference. Again, I'm not the smoothest person when it comes to talking. My opponent is because he has ten years of it. But I'm honest, I have the integrity, I have the passion, I love this community, and I want this community to grow and thrive. So that's why I think people have endorsed me. Again, Shirley Weber, Bob Filner, mayor. The list goes on and on. Fire, police, nurses, teachers, because they know they can trust me, that I will do the best job I know how to do when I get into City Council. That's what separates me.

CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with District 4 candidate Myrtle Cole, thank you very much.

COLE: You're welcome. Thank you.