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San Diego City Council District Races: What’s at Stake?

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego City Council will look very different next year with half the incumbents termed-out and fresh faces vying to represent Districts One, Three, Five, and Seven. KPBS reporter Alison St John spoke with two political consultants -- a Democrat and a Republican -- about what is at stake in the coming elections.

Since 1988 San Diego city council members have been elected not by all city voters but by the voters in their district. The mayor on the other hand is voted for city wide. The goal was to balances the interests of neighborhoods with the interests of the city as a whole. 

The strong mayor form of government has given the mayor's powers a boosts. Long time political consultant Larry Remer, a Democratic, says now there's a battle going on for the soul of the council.

Remer:  So now we have four city council seats that are up and it's really a power struggle between the business community, the hotels and developers who are funding candidates in all the districts, and the community people, the environmentalists and those who are not in it for big profits.

Another prominent political consultant, Jennifer Jacobs, a Republican, sees the battle running along different fault lines.

Jacobs: It all comes down to whether or not you are going to put people who have the taxpayers at the forefront of their priorities, or if you are going to be electing people who are beholden to labor unions and they don't want to be say "no" to anybody.

Jacobs and Remer are pitted against each other in the race for District 7, including the College Area and Tierra Santa, epitomizes the struggle.

Jacob: There is no greater difference between two people than you will find between Marti Emerald and April Boling -- that will make a huge difference in the direction the city of San Diego goes.

Remer: This election is very important and this particular seat, the one between April Boling who is backed by the downtown people, the hotel people, the developers versus Marti, backed by the environmentalists and by the working people – that's what’s at stake here.

Most of the front runners in all four districts have spent over $100,000 on their campaigns so far, in this high stakes race for control of the city council

Alison St John, KPBS News.     

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