Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Who Won And Who Lost In Tuesday's Primary Election
TOM FUDGE (Host): I’m Tom Fudge sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh, and you’re listening to These Days on KPBS. Yesterday, Californians went to the polls to decide who they want to run for governor and U.S. Senate this coming November. Locally, San Diego County voters elected a new sheriff. We’ll be hearing from him later in the show. The popularity of term limits endures in our region as county voters decided county supervisors should be subject to term limits as well. And in the City of San Diego, they’ll be adding one more member to the city council and making the strong mayor a permanent part of the local landscape. The list goes on, and we’ll try to pick out some of the interesting parts of it as we talk politics this hour. If you want to join the conversation or talk about a race or a result that you thought was remarkable, you can call us at 888-895-5727, that’s 888-895-KPBS. Joining me in studio now and for the remainder of the hour are Gloria Penner and Carl Luna. Gloria, of course, is the KPBS senior political correspondent. Gloria, thank you.
GLORIA PENNER (KPBS Political Correspondent): Good morning, Tom. Good to be here.
FUDGE: And Carl Luna is professor of Political Science at San Diego Mesa College. He’s a lecturer on politics and International Political Economy at University of San Diego. Carl, thank you.
CARL LUNA (Political Science Professor, San Diego Mesa College): Morning, Tom.
FUDGE: Good morning. And let’s start by talking about county supervisors. I want to get to that strong mayor thing pretty soon but, first of all, San Diego voters, San Diego County voters, decided that county supervisors should be subject to term limits as well, and that one won by a big margin. What do you think about that, Gloria?
PENNER: Well, it really did and, of course, Labor came out in force for that one. SEIU, which is the local Service Employee International Union and represents county workers was behind it and they got many more signatures to get it on the ballot than they needed. They needed 77,000; I think they got about 20,000 more than that. And the Labor itself came out and made sure that the voters knew what was going on and put some money behind it and, lo and behold, they won.
FUDGE: Carl, was this a victory for Labor or was it a victory for term limits?
LUNA: A little bit of each. Labor got what they wanted in this particular case, which is to try to shake up the board though it’s going to be the better part of a decade before it actually happens.
FUDGE: Well, and that’s the ironic thing, isn’t it? Because they were upset at this board, this fully Republican board, but it’s not really going to affect them. I mean, you know, by the time these term limits go into effect, the members of this board are going to be on Medicare and, you know, they’re going to be retired, right?
LUNA: Or possibly life support but that’s…
PENNER: I think some of them have to be on Medicare already.
FUDGE: Uh-huh, yeah.
LUNA: But in – term limits in general is very popular to voters. I mean, they’re about as popular as puppies. The only problem is, when they grow up they turn into pit bulls. You end up with a dysfunctional system. Somewhere down the pike you’re going to be changing over all the time, you’re going to have people who don’t know what they’re doing in office. Funny thing is, the county is relatively well managed, albeit at the expense of social welfare programs and the rest. We voted to limit the power of the county board of supervisors while creating a strong mayor in a city which is much less functional.
PENNER: But the point is that there is a feeling that every 8 years it’s kind of good to have fresh ideas and fresh blood or new blood—I don’t know how fresh it will be—to come in. And this does start with the next election cycle, 2012. Anybody who is elected to the board of supervisors in 2012 can expect that they will only get two terms if they’re reelected in 2016.
FUDGE: Let’s stay with the Labor aspect of this political race just for a bit because Gloria I think you said that Labor had a victory in passage of the term limits…
FUDGE: …for county supervisors. That was a big thing that they were supporting. But they also – Labor also had some losses during this election in San Diego County.
PENNER: Well, it did, definitely. In the City of Chula Vista, the ‘yes’ vote, which will allow the City of Chula Vista to hire without vowing that they’re going to do the prevailing wage or union contracts, this allows them to go ahead and hire people and decide on themselves how much they are going to pay them. There will be no requirement that they follow union benefits or union pay scales. And Labor, of course, was very much in favor against – Labor was against Proposition G, and G passed. And the same happened in Oceanside where there was a Proposition K which would allow Oceanside to become a charter city. That gives Oceanside more control over how it’s going to hire, who it’s going to hire, and how much it’s going to pay. So in both cases, Labor lost.
FUDGE: Right. Project labor agreements is what we’re talking about…
PENNER: We are.
FUDGE: …and that is the thing that Prop G, by the passage of Prop G, it says what, Gloria, that the City of Chula Vista doesn’t have to enter into them? Or cannot enter into them?
PENNER: That’s right. Doesn’t have to.
FUDGE: Doesn’t have to.
PENNER: The concern there is that if it doesn’t enter into them, they could lose some state and federal funding because for state and federal contracts, you have to enter into project labor agreements and pay the prevailing wage.
FUDGE: Carl, what’s your take on this one?
LUNA: Proposition G as in Gaylord, that’s what Prop G was ultimately about. Remember the waterfront development project for Chula Vista fell apart in part because of labor issues and costs, so this was an attempt to encourage more development but at the expense of being able to bring in cheaper labor and not always going to be local labor. That was one of the other issues, that you would hire local workers at a prevailing wage. This will allow you to bring in workers from anywhere to do the work.
LUNA: So it may hurt Chula Vistans while helping the bottom line in Chula Vista.
PENNER: And this is particularly important now because there’s been real movement on the bayfront development with an agreement now between Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego and it looks as though that bayfront, which has been thought of as being developed for the last 30 or 40 years may actually have a leg up now.
FUDGE: And I’m Tom Fudge. You’re listening to These Days. I’m speaking with Gloria Penner and Carl Luna about politics and we’re going to start talking about the strong mayor form of government which had a victory in yesterday’s primary election in the City of San Diego, and we’re going to start by talking with a person who is one of the big supporters of that, and this is City Councilman Kevin Faulconer who joins us by phone. And, Kevin, thank you very much.
KEVIN FAULCONER (San Diego City Councilman): Tom, good morning.
FUDGE: I should also mention that Kevin Faulconer did win his primary to continue as the District supervisor (sic) in District 2. Do I have that right, Kevin?
FAULCONER: District 2, indeed, yes.
FUDGE: Okay, well, congratulations on your victory there. But let’s talk about the strong mayor form of government. It passed, I believe, with 60% of the vote in the City of San Diego. What’s your reaction to that?
FAULCONER: Well, very strong turnout. To have it pass by such a margin, I think, speaks volumes about the mood of the electorate in not wanting to go back to the old city manager form of government. And I was, was and am, a strong, strong supporter of accountability under the strong mayor system of government which the change, I think, Tom, has been remarkable in terms of some of the reforms, particularly on the financial end that we’ve been able to do as a city with the mayor working with the council. And I think yesterday’s result really was clear that people do not want to go back to the system that got this city into so much financial trouble, particularly the pension crisis.
FUDGE: You used the word accountability and that is a word that is used a lot in describing why the strong mayor form of government is the better of the two options. Why does strong mayor form of government make the city more accountable to the voters?
FAULCONER: Because you have somebody who’s in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city that is accountable to the voters. Under the old system, of course, you had an unelected city bureaucrat running the day-to-day operations of the city. And now you have a mayor and no matter who he or she is in the future, you know that they are accountable because they are elected directly by the voters. So I think for not only that reason but the dynamics between the mayor and the council, it’s a much more open, transparent back and forth that’s – that plays out, rather than a lot of behind the scenes activities that used to happen in the old city manager form of government and I think it was pretty clear that yesterday voters said we don’t want to go back, we want to continue the changes that we’ve made. And so I was glad to see that happen.
FUDGE: Another thing that came with Prop D is adding another city council member. The city council will go from eight members to nine members. One reason for that is with nine members you can break a tie. It can be hard to do that when you have only eight. And also, as a result of adding a city council member, the council will have to vote – get six votes to override a mayor’s veto. I think I’ve got all that right. How disruptive, how difficult is it going to be to add that other city council member, that additional one?
FAULCONER: Well, that won’t occur until 2012 after the census. And I think you hit the nail on the head, one of the big things is going to be it strengthens the veto process. Right now you have a system where it’s the same number of votes to override a veto potentially as to pass the initial legislation. That’s not certainly how it works nor should it work. So I think it’s going to be much positive to have – so you don’t have tie votes on the council anymore. You have a strengthened mayoral veto, and I think from an overall perspective it’s just – it’s a much better check and balance system. And I think it really completes the process of all the changes that have been made, you know, adding the independent budget analyst, the changes that we made a couple years ago by ensuring that we have an independent city auditor. I think last night’s strong support on Prop D shows that the citizens out in San Diego want to continue strengthening the checks and balances and moving forward, and so I was really – really quite pleased by the strong showing.
FUDGE: I think Gloria Penner wants to get in on our conversation…
PENNER: I do.
PENNER: I do. And congratulations, Kevin Faulconer.
FAULCONER: Thank you, Gloria.
PENNER: I thought that it was rather interesting that you and Proposition D came up with just about the same number of yes votes, somewhere around 61%. Do you think that that’s significant? That people who voted for you probably also voted for Proposition D?
FAULCONER: Well, of course, Prop D was citywide and I was just out here in the…
PENNER: That’s true.
FAULCONER: …in District 2. But I made it a big part of my campaign. There’s no doubt that I thought and I’ve spent so much time, as you know, as chairman of the city’s audit committee on fiscal and financial reform issues, and having seen the old system of government with the city manager hide the ball system, you know, I was outspoken along, of course, with the mayor, and I, you know, I was really, really pleased that the – it showed with such a strong showing because as you probably remember, when the trial system of the strong mayor was put into place several years ago, that was a – that passed with a much smaller margin. I think last night, Gloria, really showed, with the vote total, people are happy with the new system. They don’t want to go back to the old system.
PENNER: Just one other question. The opposition felt that the mayor was less accountable because he would not have to vote in public because he would no longer be a member of the city council.
FAULCONER: Yeah, and I’ll tell you, and some of those folks said they wanted the mayor to be back on the city council running council meetings. I think we want the mayor running the City of San Diego. We don’t need him running city council meetings, and so I think that the change that has happened has been better. When the mayor makes a decision, whether he supports something or vetoes something, it’s all done in public. There’s no guessing as to that, so I think that argument, Gloria, at the end of the day, was a red herring and I think voters saw through that.
LUNA: Well, actually, I supported Prop D but let’s be clear about this. The problem with the old system was not an unelected city manager, the city manager was hired by the city council, could be fired by the city council. We’ve replaced an unelected city manager with an unelected chief financial officer reporting to the mayor. The big problem was always a city council and a mayor who were not willing to take the political heat to balance off the budget to deal with the pension crisis. The idea of the current system, create a mayor who can kick the city council in the butt. Now, the question is, will we get a strong mayor who can do so?
FAULCONER: Well, and I will tell you, you know, to Carl’s point, I think if you look at the changes that the council has made particularly if you look back last year where the council unanimously decided to make six percent reductions in compensation and benefits, I don’t think you would’ve seen a city manager propose that. I think Mayor Sanders stepped up, said we have to make this change. He went out publicly and said that. He got the council to agree with him. And I think that’s a very good example of what you would not have seen under a city manager form of government, who would’ve tried to just go out and get five votes and not rock the boat so much. So…
FUDGE: Okay, one more quick one from Carl here before we let you go, Kevin.
LUNA: Yeah, well, that only became a problem over the last 8, 10 years with the city manager when you had the problems with the pension fund.
FAULCONER: Yes, that’s right.
LUNA: And one of the things we have to realize as a city, when you get the grand jury coming out and saying that you should at least think about the bankruptcy option, we’re not anywhere near out of the woods yet. One more dip into a recession, this town is going to be in a world of pain. The question, can a strong mayor get us through it.
FUDGE: Okay, well, I think we’ll have to leave it at that. Kevin, thank you very much. I do have one more question for you. Are you going to run for mayor?
FAULCONER: The only thing I’m focusing on right now, Tom, is working with our current mayor, Mayor Sanders, and helping turn this ship around financially. And I was delighted to be reelected last night. I’m humbled by the support from my constituents, and that’s going to be my main focus over the next couple of years.
FUDGE: Okay, well, we’re humbled as well. Thank you very much, Kevin.
FAULCONER: Thank you very much.
FUDGE: Kevin Faulconer is the District 2 city council representative, and he won reelection in yesterday’s primary. I’m Tom Fudge. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS. And we’re going to take a break but we’ll be back with more politics talk and we will take your calls at 888-895-KPBS.
FUDGE: I’m Tom Fudge. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS, and we’re talking politics during this hour because we’re looking back on yesterday’s primary election. And my guests are Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College, and Gloria Penner, KPBS senior political correspondent. If you would like to join our conversation, call us at 888-895-5727 if there’s a race that you – or a result that you thought was remarkable. Let’s talk a little bit more about the city council races. And there were two open seats, Gloria. The two incumbents who were running, Kevin Faulconer, we just talked to him, won outright. So did Tony Young in his district. But district – I believe District 6, which is Clairemont territory, was up for grabs. What happened there?
PENNER: Well, actually there will be a runoff. It was – it looked as though in the beginning it was going to be a tight race, Lorie Zapf supported by the Republicans. And I thought it was interesting, so many of the comments made after the election had to do with who was a Republican and who was a Democrat, and so much for nonpartisan politics. I mean, this is about as partisan as you can get. Lorie Zapf is a businesswoman, and she actually got $20,000 out of the local Republican party because of a little gap there having to do with a court ruling as to whether political parties can contribute to city council races. So she kind of caught up financially with Howard Wayne, who was supported by Labor and by the Democrats.
LUNA: Former Assemblyman Howard Wayne.
PENNER: Exactly, former Assemblyman, and he is running behind her at the last count and actually it’s the final count. She got 36% of the vote, he got about 25% of the vote. And the big surprise there was that Steve Hadley, who was the chief of staff for Donna Frye, who is the District 6 councilperson, he only got 17% of the vote, and that tells you that Donna Frye’s coattails are not very long. They are not very long in her own district, and they certainly were not very long when it came to strong mayor because she was very vociferously opposed to the strong mayor.
FUDGE: Now District 8 of the City of San Diego is in the South Bay. It’s a seat that’s being vacated by Ben Hueso and, coincidentally, there was another person with that last name in the race.
PENNER: Yes, that was his brother, his older brother, Felipe, and he is going to be in a runoff with David Alvarez. David Alvarez is a staff person for Denise Ducheny, who is a popular state Senator from that area. And so it’s Alvarez versus Hueso in a runoff. I think the big surprise is that Nick Inzunza, who has the Inzunza name, maybe it wasn’t a surprise because he has the Inzunza name, he came out with only a little under 18% of the vote, so he didn’t make the runoff. He is the uncle of former city councilman Ralph Inzunza, who had to resign under a cloud.
FUDGE: Under a cloud of conviction on corruption charges.
PENNER: Yeah, I think it was called Strippergate, wasn’t it?
PENNER: Right, exactly.
FUDGE: Carl, what do you think is going on in these city council races?
LUNA: Well, without an incumbent, you had things mixed up. In the 6th District, Lorie Zapf had the advantage of having unified Republican vote. Downside is the unified Republican vote was only 36%. So you look at the Democratic vote split between Howard Wayne, Steve Hadley, I think come November if Howard Wayne can campaign effectively enough, he can win that seat. His biggest problem is that he’s kind of old school, kind of old – old play, and Lorie Zapf is kind of a new model of the populous insurgent. Down in the South Bay, what really is remarkable to me is you look at the numbers of votes cast, you get people elected president of their school Associated Student Body with about as many votes.
FUDGE: With a dozen votes.
LUNA: Yeah, you’re sitting there looking at a thousand votes here…
LUNA: …1800 votes there. The voter turnout was abysmal, and in the 8th District it was even more abysmal.
PENNER: That’s not a district that tends to vote eagerly. That’s a district where you have a sense that people are dragged to the polls kicking and screaming. And, in fact, one of the candidates, B.D. Howard, actually walked the district several times, knocking on doors, speaking to people, and his vote count was not – actually it was higher than Nick Inzunza’s. So maybe walking the district is what people in District 8 needs to get them pepped up for a vote.
LUNA: And a gap between Howard and Alvarez was only 500 votes, so if he had walked a few more houses, Mr. Howard may have actually been able to win this thing.
FUDGE: It goes to show what it takes to win a local election like this, especially in a primary where turnout, of course, is low. Bill Gore, let’s talk about him. He has been the acting sheriff in San Diego County for about, what, a year or two. He was appointed by outgoing Sheriff Bill Kolender, and this was his first election and he won pretty big. I was expecting a runoff in this one. What about you guys?
PENNER: Yeah, I kind of thought that Jim Duffy would do better than he did. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, Tom. Do you have them?
FUDGE: Yes, I do. And, let’s see, give me a minute to…
LUNA: I’ve got them.
FUDGE: …to get them. Okay give…
LUNA: Gore won with 57%.
LUNA: Duffy came in third at 21%. And Jay La Suer took advantage of the kind of the anti-incumbent and the eight – well, the Arizona immigration overflow into San Diego with 23%.
PENNER: Well, that is a surprise. I truly expected – Again, here we have another Labor-backed candidate, and that was Jim Duffy. Not only Labor-backed but he had the endorsement of the Deputy Sheriffs Association, just about all the peacekeeping associations and that didn’t seem to make it for him. You know, incumbency, we may have anti-incumbency fever but I don’t think it’s striking in San Diego because the incumbent was Bill Gore. Even though he was an appointed incumbent he still had that imprimatur of being the sheriff.
LUNA: Well, I actually kind of saw this race as a gang war. I mean, it was the Duffy gang versus the Kolender gang, and the Kolender gang won. So this is…
FUDGE: And they call it – the Kolender gang was – and this, of course, is something that Duffy was saying, is the downtown elite crowd, and Gore was definitely the establishment candidate. No question about that.
LUNA: Yeah. But he also came across as, you know, in the various debates he was doing and in his campaigning, he came across as the nice, solid FBI guy. Duffy came across as the former sheriff’s son.
PENNER: What that – But that FBI might have become a problem for him because the Ruby Ridge incident was brought up several times during the campaign and Ruby Ridge was not the proudest moment for the FBI and Bill Gore was there.
LUNA: Well, the advantage for Mr. Gore is most San Diegans think of Ruby Ridge as some sort of a punch drink.
FUDGE: Well, one thing we should mention…
PENNER: Speak for yourself, Carl.
FUDGE: …we’ve been calling Gore the FBI guy but he is definitely a San Diegan. His father was a high-ranking official in the San Diego Police Department. As a matter of fact, his father was a close associate, back in the old days, with Bill Kolender. So…
PENNER: In fact, might have been considered his mentor.
FUDGE: Yes, yes. So, anyway, we will be hearing from Bill Gore in about 10 minutes so stay tuned for that. We’ll hear from the man who has been elected sheriff of San Diego County so stay with us. I’m Tom Fudge. You’re listening to These Days. My guests are Gloria Penner, KPBS senior political correspondent, and Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College. He’s also a lecturer at the University of San Diego. We’re talking about yesterday’s primary election and trying to look at some of the local results. If you have a question or comment, call us at 888-895-5727. Let’s move our focus to the City of Chula Vista. We talked a bit about Prop G already, which allows the City of Chula Vista not to go into project labor agreements. Let’s talk about the mayor’s race. I guess this is another situation, Gloria, where the incumbent won. Cheryl Cox was the incumbent and she came out with more than 50% of the vote.
PENNER: Yes, and for those people who did not support Cheryl Cox, this was a surprise because Cheryl Cox, although she has the family name Cox, married to Greg Cox who is, guess what, a supervisor, member of the board of supervisors, she sort of was in charge of Chula Vista during the time when Chula Vista was having some major problems, certainly huge economic problems. The Chargers stadium in Chula Vista’s bayfront didn’t work out, a university for Chula Vista didn’t work out, Gaylord Entertainment for the bayfront didn’t work out.
FUDGE: But she won anyway.
PENNER: But she won anyway. So maybe this is one aspect of incumbency working or maybe Steve Castaneda simply didn’t make the case for himself. Again, he was the Labor’s choice and, once again, Labor lost out.
FUDGE: Carl, anything you want to say about Chula Vista? The mayor’s race.
LUNA: Well, it’s interesting that with all the city cuts and the reduction in services, reduction in staff, that the incumbent won. But this was a primary, the turnout was very low, it was skewed much more to the right this time. I haven’t seen the final numbers on it, but more conservative because of the top of the tickets, the state Senate race, the state governor’s race, so this was a better night in conservative San Diego for conservatives.
FUDGE: And Steve Castaneda, her main opponent, I think it’s worth mentioning the fact that he has been accused of lots of things. He was accused of perjury. More recently, he was accused of campaign finance violations. Now I need to say that he’s been cleared of all this stuff, he hasn’t been convicted of anything but I wonder if some of that controversy stuck to him.
PENNER: Well, you know, when people vote, sometimes they don’t give it a great deal of thought and they vote with their reaction, their emotional reaction, and the name Castaneda might not have brought up positive visions for that candidate.
FUDGE: In the City of Chula Vista, another remarkable thing is that they elected a city attorney for the very first time. The city attorney in Chula Vista used to be an appointed office and now they’re electing their city attorney. Does this mean that the winner is going to be Mike Aguirre?
PENNER: Well, I’m not sure. Now, I have to tell you, I don’t have my notes in front of me and I can’t remember but one of them doesn’t even live in the city of Chula Vista.
LUNA: Robert Faigin’s from Lakeside.
PENNER: Okay, he didn’t win. But the local guy, Glen Googins did win even though he had some problems when he worked in the city attorney’s office, as I recall. I don’t know what Chula Vista’s going to get with this except a very expensive position. The city attorney will earn more than any other city worker, any other city manager. He’s going to earn well over $200,000 a year. So they’re expecting a lot out of him and we’ll see what he gives.
FUDGE: Some of our listeners may have been wondering what I was talking about when I said, well, are they going to get another Mike Aguirre? What I meant by that, Mike Aguirre’s a former city attorney in San Diego and he was a very controversial figure because he took a very political approach to the job and with – when you elect a city attorney, does that mean you’re electing somebody who comes in with some kind of political agenda?
PENNER: Well, they certainly come in with their own constituency. They haven’t been appointed. They have voters who actually, in this case, 10,846 people in Chula Vista said we want Glen Googins. So he knows that he has a small army of almost 11,000 people behind him and sometimes this does turn your head. We’ll see.
LUNA: Yeah, but then again in San Diego Mike Aguirre was the one elected city attorney who actually acted politically. Our current city attorney is much more of a cipher. He’s much more just a technocrat taking care of city business. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Googins comes in into Chula Vista, keeps a low profile, pockets the money, does the job and runs on being an incumbent.
PENNER: You know, not everybody would agree with you, Carl. There are people who say that the current city attorney in the City of San Diego, Mr…
PENNER: …Goldsmith, actually has already started to edge into establishing policy and that’s – that he’s moving more and more in the direction of not just making sure that the law stands but interpreting the law.
FUDGE: Let’s take a call from Stephen in Escondido. Stephen, go ahead. You’re on These Days.
STEPHEN (Caller, Escondido): A couple minutes ago you guys were just mentioning that it doesn’t seem like any candidate that was endorsed by Labor had won last night and I’m from Escondido, I’m in the 50th congressional district, and we had a new candidate from Escondido running for congress person for the 50th District and she was endorsed by Labor and lost by quite a few points last night. That was Tracy Emblem. And I’m wondering, are there any people that were endorsed by Labor that actually won and if they – is there some sort of anti-Labor thing going on right now that you guys are aware of?
PENNER: Well, what I see is that some of the people who were endorsed by Labor are in runoffs. Howard Wayne was endorsed by Labor. Actually Tony Young was endorsed by Labor and Tony Young, the incumbent for District 4 in the San Diego City Council did win. In the board of supervisors, you know, they are now forced into a runoff, which is rather amazing. And in the board of supervisors District 5, Steve Gronke, who is a Vista city councilman, is the one that will be opposing Bill Horn. So in a way that’s a win because, you know, it’s not usual that a member of the board of supervisors has to run in a runoff race.
FUDGE: …anything from you?
LUNA: And in some of the races we haven’t been looking at, the school board races, the Unified School District, the community college races, you saw Labor-backed candidates doing fairly well as they have been for several years.
FUDGE: Well, since you bring up the school board, let’s talk about San Diego Unified School District because those were very interesting races. In fact, one incumbent, and I don’t know what district she is in, but Kathlyn – Kathleen? Katherine?
PENNER: Katherine Nakamura, that’s…
FUDGE: Thank you. Katherine Nakamura…
PENNER: …District B.
FUDGE: …looks like she – She was the incumbent and it looks like she has not made the runoff.
PENNER: You’re right. At this point it’s Kevin Beiser and Steve Rosen.
FUDGE: And Kevin Beiser was the union candidate.
PENNER: Oh, he was.
FUDGE: Yes, he was.
PENNER: I didn’t know that.
FUDGE: Yes, he was.
PENNER: Okay, so, yes, she didn’t make it. Well, this is really interesting. I think – Well, it’s not the first time that a school board candidate hasn’t made it. There have been other times as well. But there’s real distress there because they’ve been through so many superintendents in such a short period of time. I think it’s like 4 superintendents in 3 years or 3 superintendents in 4 years, and you wonder who do you blame for this. Do you blame the superintendents? Or do you blame the school board? Well, this is the first real election that they’ve had since all of this mess has happened and the last superintendent resigned and so these two, who are up, Katherine Nakamura and John De Beck, they kind of got the brunt of it.
FUDGE: One thing I don’t think we talked about earlier on, even though we talked about the term limits passing for county supervisors, is the fact that you brought up, Gloria, that two supervisors are going – long time supervisors, Bill Horn and Ron Roberts, did not win outright. They’re going to be facing a runoff. Why do you think that is?
PENNER: Well, I think they’re really surprised at that because this has to be a first for them in a long time. Why is it? Maybe for the same reason that term limits got passed in Proposition B. There’s been a lot of publicity lately about the board of supervisors not taking care of the safety net for the needy, the poor, the food stamp program. And, yes, the city is – the county is well managed but, you know, that doesn’t touch people as much as the fact that there are people who are going hungry and who don’t have to go hungry, who haven’t qualified for the food stamp program because it isn’t easy to qualify for it. In fact, it’s pretty hard. In the case of Ron Roberts, his opponent is Stephen Whitburn. Stephen Whitburn was the campaign manager for the candidate for District 3, Todd Gloria, two years ago. So he’s got a little bit of a political connection there.
FUDGE: Stephen Whitburn, did – I’m sorry, did you say he was the campaign manager…
FUDGE: …for Todd Gloria?
PENNER: Yeah, he…
FUDGE: No, he opposed – he opposed Todd…
PENNER: Oh, he opposed…
PENNER: That’s – thank you so much.
FUDGE: All right.
PENNER: Okay. It’s early. Yeah, Stephen Whitburn opposed Todd Gloria.
FUDGE: Yeah, he ran for the seat but he lost to Todd Gloria.
PENNER: And now he’s back.
FUDGE: Okay. Any comment from you on that – on the subject.
LUNA: First off – first off, it’s amazing that these actually went to a runoff because that hasn’t happened since sometime in the 13th century. Second, it’s amazing that it’s amazing. And you would anticipate every now and then board of supervisors to be switched up. This is one of the reasons why there’s been so much attention on this. And Gloria’s correct. When I said that the county is well managed, it has been well managed but precisely by cutting back on major services, creating problems – they lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding because we have the worst record in the state for having people get food stamps they’re already eligible for.
LUNA: And while that looks good to a conservative base, it hurts the bottom line at the county and all the businesses that would be getting that money.
FUDGE: You’re listening to These Days. We’re talking about yesterday’s primary election. And we’re going to take a break but when we return I’ll continue my conversation with Gloria Penner and Carl Luna, so stay tuned.
FUDGE: Coming up in the next hour of These Days, Michael Hiltzik joins me to talk about his book “Colossus.” It tells the story of the Hoover Dam, which may be a great national symbol of strength and progress but it has also had many consequences, good and bad, for life in the U.S. Also, we’ll talk about a new musical whose story focuses on the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Stay tuned for that in the next hour of These Days. Right now, we’re talking politics as we look back on yesterday’s primary election. I’m joined by Gloria Penner, the KPBS senior political correspondent, and Carl Luna, professor of Political Science at San Diego Mesa College. And, Gloria – And we’re going to hear from Sheriff Bill Gore in just a minute. But first, Gloria, you had a comment you wanted to make about changing demographics…
FUDGE: …in San Diego County.
PENNER: Well, we were talking about the board of supervisors and this phenomenon that both supervisors who were running and are now being driven into a runoff and we were asking ourselves why, and one thing we didn’t say was that the board of supervisors is known as a Republican bastion, all five of the members of the board are Republicans but the County of San Diego is now skewing Democrat, both the city and the county, the city a little more heavily. And Ron Roberts really represents the City of San Diego on the district but also the county now has slightly more Democrats than it does Republicans, so this may be showing up in this particular election.
LUNA: And what’s interesting with the turnout being more conservative, the fact that these two members of the board of supervisors were forced into a runoff does not bode well for them come November when you’re going to have a more diverse electorate.
FUDGE: And with that, let me welcome to our program Bill Gore. Sheriff Gore was one of the candidates in yesterday’s primary for the office of sheriff. He was facing two strong challengers but he came out on top with enough votes to win the election outright. Bill Gore, thank you very much for joining us.
BILL GORE (Sheriff, San Diego County): Thanks. A pleasure to be here, Tom.
FUDGE: Well, I guess the first obvious question is to ask you what was your reaction to yesterday’s election.
GORE: Well, I was obviously very pleasantly surprised. You know, I know it’s difficult to win in the primary with three people in the race but I managed to pull it off and I think that I’m very grateful to the voters of San Diego County. Obviously, they believed in the message I was trying to get out in my positive campaign, talking about, you know, realistic solutions to real crime problems and keeping politics out of the race as best I could.
FUDGE: And you complained, I think, occasionally about the fact that your challengers were trying to paint you as a bit of a bureaucrat, the guy in a blue suit who never really worked the streets. And what was your reaction to that?
GORE: Well, I think that when you don’t have much of a campaign, you attack the opponent. I would probably point at my 40 years in law enforcement at the federal and local level, and we talked about working the streets, which I did in the FBI. It’s a little different than working in the sheriff’s department but I think that’s the strength I brought to this office, is the ability to work with federal and state and local law enforcement. In this time of extremely tight fiscal times, to say the least, I think we cannot afford a duplication of effort or be out there reinventing the wheel. We have to strengthen partnerships at all level of law enforcement like we’ve never done before. I think that’s a quality I bring to this job, and I think the voters saw that also.
FUDGE: Now that you’ve won the election, I guess it’s time to get back to work. What do you see, as you look at your four-year term that’s coming up here, what do you see as one or two big challenges?
GORE: Well, I think obviously the overriding challenge is going to be getting through this worst recession we’ve had since the great Depression. But we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball. We’ve got to focus on what the real crime problems are in here. We have, you know, 800 homicides last year in Tijuana, and violence is out of control. So what we’ve got to do is keep working and keeping our eye and focus on what we call our Border Crimes Initiative, our Stone Garden program that partners us with federal law enforcement, Border Patrol, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, not to turn deputy sheriffs into immigration officers but to address crimes in San Diego County that we face every day because of our location on the border, the drug smuggling, the human smuggling, the cross boarder kidnappings, the gang activity and their involvement with the cartels in Mexico, those are legitimate roles for local law enforcement and that’s what we’re going to keep focused on here with the sheriff’s department. Also, we know because of budgetary constraints or federal lawsuits, there’s going to be a release of prisoners from our state prison system. What we’ve got to do and what we’re doing with the sheriff’s department is partnering with parole and probation so that our deputy sheriffs that are out there in the field have instantaneous access to all the information on known offenders that are in our society on parole or probation. Hopefully, this’ll keep them from reoffending. If they should reoffend, it’ll give us good tools to make quick arrests and keep this crime rate in San Diego County low.
GORE: I think people lose sight of that. We’re at a 25 year low in our crime rate in San Diego County, so we’re doing something right. We just got to keep our eye focused on good, sound law enforcement policies and procedures.
FUDGE: Gloria Penner, did you have a question?
PENNER: Yes, I did. First of all, I wanted to make a comment and that is it was a vigorous campaign, so congratulations, Sheriff Gore.
GORE: Thank you, Gloria.
PENNER: You’re welcome. Many people feel that you solidified your image as the sheriff during the Chelsea King and Amber Dubois horror, that the community was really shaken by the murder and rapings of those two young women and that you were a reassuring presence. And for many people, this was the reason that they voted for you.
GORE: Well, I think that – if that was the reason, I said from the beginning when I was appointed sheriff that I expected to be judged by my performance or on my performance. And if the voters thought I performed well, I’m thankful for that. I think what it really is, is a testament to the men and women of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, and beyond that what came through, hopefully, to the people who were watching in horror, as you say, in their living rooms, was that it wasn’t just the sheriff’s department, although we had the lead in the investigation. What you had was the San Diego Police Department, the FBI, the Border Patrol, all of law enforcement coming together to solve these just terrible, terrible crimes. That’s what good law enforcement’s about and that’s what I tried to make the focus of my campaign, is that it’s collaboration. It’s everybody working together to come up with a common solution. We did that very well, I think, in that case and although it didn’t have the ending that we would like it to with – hopefully would’ve been nice if we could’ve found Chelsea alive but I think you saw the District Attorney, everybody working together and having that case from start to finish, 90 days is practically unheard of in law enforcement.
FUDGE: Okay. Well, Bill Gore, thank you very much for joining us, and, again, congratulations on your election.
GORE: Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Gloria.
PENNER: You’re welcome.
FUDGE: …that was Bill Gore, who has been elected county sheriff for the first time. He was appointed sheriff a couple of years ago. We also have another guest who is going to join us by phone and that is Lorena Gonzalez. Lorena Gonzalez is with the San Diego and Imperial County Labor Federation. And she and others were big supporters of Prop B in San Diego County, which led to term limits for county supervisors. Lorena Gonzalez, thank you very much.
LORENA GONZALEZ (Spokesperson, San Diego and Imperial County Labor Federation): Thank you. Thank you for having me.
FUDGE: Well, what is your reaction to this election? What do you think of the results?
GONZALEZ: Well, you know, I – we won big last night and we lost big last night and it’s – You know, we’re overall extremely happy about what we’ve been able to accomplish at the county board of supervisors, both with winning term limits and accomplishing our goal, which was to bring attention to the county board and force the county board of supervisors to have competitive races. We’re seeing it already and we’re going to go into runoffs for both the Horn seat and the Roberts seat. But the turnout was dismal, it was terrible, and we really felt the consequences of that. When folks show up at the polls, workers win. When they don’t, we lose. And so although we’re excited about term limits and what happened at the county, we’re excited about some of our big wins with Ben Hueso in the Assembly and Mary Salas, hopefully keeping her lead for the state Senate, big labor wins, but we’re disappointed with some of the results as well.
FUDGE: And you’re disappointed, I assume, with Proposition G in Chula Vista and Proposition K in Oceanside on the project labor agreements.
GONZALEZ: Well, especially Chula Vista, you know, we spent a lot of time down there but the turnout just – I’ve never quite seen anything like it. I think when the final numbers come in, we’ll see about, maybe 25% and in a city that is predominantly Latino and predominantly Democrat, it was – the electorate yesterday was not. It was mainly an absentee turnout and mainly a Republican turnout and, again, when people show up at the polls, when we have high turnout like we do in presidential years or in gubernatorial years when there’s a runoff, then workers win. But when people don’t come out, we can’t win.
FUDGE: Okay, well, Lorena Gonzalez, we’re almost out of time so I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go. Thank you very much for calling in.
GONZALEZ: Thank you.
FUDGE: And that’s Lorena Gonzalez with the San Diego and Imperial County Labor Federation. We want to hear from one more person who’s calling in and that is Lori Saldana, who’s a member of the Assembly and she is here, she wants to talk a little bit about the performance of female candidates in this election. Lori Saldana, what do you have to say about that?
LORI SALDANA (Representative, California State Assembly): Hi. Good morning. Am I on?
FUDGE: You’re on.
SALDANA: Okay, thank you. Well, I think at the state level it’s very interesting that the Republicans are making this the year of the woman just like the Democrats did almost 20 years ago. And I think Meg Whitman is going to give Jerry Brown quite a race, and I think Carly Fiorina, as well, is going to really challenge Boxer. I think they’re going to be viewed as compass – well, not compassionate conservatives but pragmatic conservatives almost like Ronald Reagan was, and there’s going to be some crossover Democratic votes in those contests that could really make it a challenge at the state level.
FUDGE: So it’s interesting, you think that there are going to be some crossover Democratic votes, Democrats who are going to vote for Meg Whitman and for Fiorina, who are both very—at least the way they campaigned in the primary—very conservative Republicans.
SALDANA: Well, I think with this economy, people are looking at fiscal conservatives. And so it will really have – I think the Democrats are going to have to really make the case. With unemployment being where it is and the economy maybe going into a double-dip recession, these are two women who have succeeded in business and much as Arnold Schwarzenegger persuaded people in his special election that as a business person he could run a state, I don’t know that they – he’s succeeded, but that is the message that the Republicans will be using with these women at the state level in the fall.
FUDGE: Yeah, boy, don’t say double-dip recession. That’s just too depressing. Well, Gloria and Carl, I think the last – you’re going to have the last word here, and responding to some of what Ms. Saldana said about female candidates and, well, what was the other thing? Crossover?
PENNER: Crossover. I think that Lori Saldana is right on the crossover. I mean, the female candidates, it’s a given now, females across the country are starting to come out. They’ve sort of built themselves up from the grassroots politically but in this case the unusual part is that these two women have no real political – elected political experience.
FUDGE: No, they don’t.
PENNER: And maybe that’s a good thing for them because I think people are really sick and tired of politicians and especially incumbents, so here you have two fresh faces. It’s going to depend how they do on the campaign trail.
FUDGE: Carl, how much did Meg Whitman spend on her primary campaign? $71 million?
LUNA: I thought it was $85 gazillion dollars.
FUDGE: Well, either…
LUNA: But it’s about the same difference.
FUDGE: …one, yeah.
LUNA: Which is interest payments of about for a year on her bankroll that she’s bringing to this, and she’s said that she’ll spend double that. That’s $140 to $150 million, the most expensive race in American history. What we’re seeing here is ‘pluturkey’ with a feminine face. You know, the ability…
FUDGE: What’d you say?
LUNA: Pluturkey, the rule of the wealthy but it’s dressed up nicely. You’ve got Whitman and Fiorina bringing tons of cash even though Carly Fiorina was a failed CEO, Meg Whitman was a successful CEO, but Jerry Brown’s campaign is going to be that Meg Whitman’s trying to buy the office, her campaign’s going to be that Jerry Brown is so 1970s and you don’t want to go back there.
FUDGE: But the history of California politics, very quickly here, has shown that you can’t buy elections. We’ve had lots of rich candidates, spent a lot of money…
FUDGE: …with not much success, right, Gloria?
PENNER: That’s right. I remember Huffington. I remember Al Checchi, I mean, these people spent millions. I think that the sad part is that we don’t see the people coming up with the dollars to help support these candidates. And, after all, it’s an election by the people and for the people.
FUDGE: And with that, let me thank Gloria Penner, KPBS senior political correspondent. Also joining us was Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College. He’s a lecturer on international political economy at the University of San Diego. Thanks very much to our listeners for listening in on this program about the primary election, and stay tuned now as These Days continues.