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Roads Repair Discussion Hints At Tense San Diego Election Season

— San Diego's City Council rules committee was voting on whether to forward various ballot initiatives to the full council to be placed on the November ballot. Councilman Carl DeMaio had proposed a measure that would dedicate surplus revenue to road repairs. He described it as putting the extra funds into a "lock box.'' DeMaio, a Republican, is running for mayor against Democratic Congressman Bob Filner.

A San Diego City Council committee today rejected a proposed ballot measure from Councilman Carl DeMaio aimed at beefing up funding for road repairs. The committee’s discussion hints that a tense election season may be in store.

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Councilwoman Marti Emerald, a Filner supporter, said DeMaio’s measure was a campaign move disguised as public policy. She said the council shouldn’t support that.

"And if he wants he can go collect his signatures for his new ballot measure, which is a form of intimidation and a ploy to use public financing to fund his campaign," she said.

Emerald made a motion to reject DeMaio’s proposal outright. After her motion, Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer commented that campaign season has truly begun. Faulconer has endorsed DeMaio in the race. While he didn’t support sending the measure to the full council in its current state, he did ask for some more analysis on the measure.

"I think that’s what Mr. DeMaio was asking. I don’t think that’s too much to ask," he said.

Faulconer’s request for review by the city's Independent Budget Analyst was denied. The committee unanimously rejected sending the ballot measure on to the full council.

DeMaio said he won’t pursue the measure now but will take it up again if he’s elected mayor. He said his proposal would have brought "innovative, creative and accountable measures'' designed to finish the job of clearing the city's backlog of infrastructure projects, estimated to be around $800 million, without raising taxes.

Filner appeared at the meeting to oppose the proposal.

"A lock box? I thought in the Gore-Bush race we gave up lock boxes, but here we are again,'' Filner said. Instead of getting a majority of council members to agree, you get a "tantrum,'' he said.

Committee members said the problem with the measure was that it would tie their hands in deciding how to spend surplus funds.

"We have to have confidence in ourselves to make decisions on behalf of the people we represent,'' Council President Tony Young said. He added that the council should be able to adjust to changing conditions.

The panel also listed public safety as a higher spending priority, while recognizing the importance of maintaining streets.

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