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Candidates For San Diego Mayor Spar At Raucous LGBT Debate

Aired 3/29/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

There was plenty of give-and-take among a field where two of the four major candidates are gay.


Aired 3/29/12 on KPBS News.

Audience members greeted the candidates -- Councilman Carl DeMaio, Congressman Bob Filner, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher -- with cheers and applause, or boos and hisses, depending on their answers.

It was a "not what you'd expect" evening in some ways as the four major candidates for mayor of San Diego -- two of whom are gay -- sparred before a raucous audience at the LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest last night.

Questioning from the audience of several hundred focused on a variety of issues facing the city, but a majority of the queries centered on issues affecting the gay community.

Audience members greeted the candidates -- Councilman Carl DeMaio, Congressman Bob Filner, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher -- with cheers and applause, or boos and hisses, depending on their answers.

DeMaio and Dumanis dealt with questions about the perceived incongruity of being both gay and Republican.

DeMaio, whose council district is in the north section of San Diego, answered cat-calls by acknowledging that he hasn't been as proactive on certain issues affecting gays as the community would like. But he stressed that he has focused his efforts on bringing all of San Diego's various communities together.

Along with DeMaio, Dumanis was asked how she could be both a Republican and gay. She joked that telling her parents she was a Republican was harder than telling them she was a lesbian. She added that the best way to change attitudes within the staunchly conservative GOP was from the inside and that serving as San Diego's first gay mayor would be a huge step toward that.

The debate came on a day when the race for mayor was shaken by Fletcher's announcement that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an independent. Surprisingly, he wasn't asked by audience members about the switch and it remains unclear what impact it may have on the nominally nonpartisan election.

The candidate who clearly drew the most applause was Filner, the lone liberal Democrat on stage. He emphasized his stark differences on issues from the other three candidates, often doing so with a joke. Filner strongly denounced the pension-reform measure backed by DeMaio and the others that would end pensions in favor of 401-K plans for most new city employees. Filner also said he's against the controversial plan backed by current Mayor Jerry Sanders to build a bridge in order to remove vehicles from Balboa Park.

Fletcher focused on his differences with DeMaio. The tension between them has heated up, both accusing the other of dirty campaigning.

Fletcher stressed his support for state legislation that gay history be taught in schools. He repeatedly asked DeMaio whether he would support it; DeMaio was noncommital. Fletcher also touted his support for President Obama's push to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 29, 2012 at 1:47 p.m. ― 4 years, 12 months ago

Was this taped?

I want to watch it.

As a gay San Diegan, my vote is going to Mr. Filner, without question.

I will give Bonnie credit for the way she answered the question about how she reconciles being a Republican and being gay, I thought it was both clever and she made a good point.

I sometimes like Bonnie, but I won't be fooled by her again. I voted for her for DA and have been unimpressed with how she has run that office. While I respect her as a person, she seems a little too into back-room deals and elitist politics for my taste. I have also been troubled by some of her calls as DA and her unwillingness to support CA voters who made it clear we want accessible medical marijuana for those with qualifying health problems

Now, on to DirtyCarl.

Mr. DeMaio is the worst of the bunch, a rotten apple, and I don't even have respect for him as a person.

He panders, he is all talk, he oozes sleaziness, everything about him just reeks of a parasitic hack who only cares about their own political career.

A Mayor DeMaio would actually harm the gay community.

As a gay person, I want San Diego's 2nd gay mayor to be someone who is respectful, qualified, and cnotes present our community well to the city at large, **not** a divisive, arrogant worm like Mr. DeMaio.

Our first gay mayor was Ms. Toni Atkins (she was only an interim mayor for a brief period) but her service on the city council was amongst the best of any local politician we have had. Ms. Atkins was wonderful, and her honorable service, I believe, paved the way for people being open-minded about electing other gay council members like Mr. Gloria and DeMaio.

A mayor DeMaio could completely unravel this, and he could taint city hall so bad with his corrupt stench, people would be hesitant to elect future LGBT candidates.

Bottom line is that minority groups don't simply want "their own kind" getting elected, we want someone who will actually do a good job knowing that electing someone foul like DeMaio could actually backfire on the community.

This is why Obama has such high support in the black community. It's not just because he is African American, it's because he is a great leader who also happens to be African American. Contrat this with someone like Herman Cain who, like Mr. DeMaio, has a shady past, shallow intellect, and is bought and sold by wealthy special interests trying to turn us into a plutocracy (like the Koch Brothers and Papa Manchster).

Lastly, I would like to say that I have never been a one issue voter.

**Mr. Filner has the most solid progressive record out of all these candidates, he is a supporter of the LGBT community, and he has my vote.**

If we can start 2013 with Filner as mayor and Obama as our President for four more years, I think we will be on the right track.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | March 29, 2012 at 3:17 p.m. ― 4 years, 12 months ago

Online Videos of all the debate would be nice. Also according to Twitter, Nathan Fletcher thanked Congressman Bob Filner for all his work for Homeless Veterans. Which includes $1.2 million in Federal funds for San Diego Veterans in 150 new Grants.

The LGBT Weekly has a great Q&A with mayoral candidate, Bob Filner. Including DOMA and Bob's leading record on attendence at most public debates.

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Avatar for user 'Dothscribble'

Dothscribble | March 29, 2012 at 3:27 p.m. ― 4 years, 12 months ago

The infantile LBGXYZ reference to Homosexuals lays bare the fact that 'Cow's tail in mouth' would be miles more accurate than your preposterous 'Leadership starts here' jibe. Usage of their imposed code-speak merely follows the homosexual herd who're so ballistically 'proud' they're too ashamed to be called Homosexual. 'Leaders' don't flaunt Hypocrisy.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 29, 2012 at 5:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 12 months ago

Dothscribble, if you're going to make an argument using semantics, you should at least understand the terminology.

In order for your stance to be valid, "homosexual" and "LGBT" would be synonymous.

They are not.

LGBT stands for:


Bisexual is not homosexual.

Not all transgendered people are homosexual.

But, bisexual and transgendered people are often stereo-typed as being homosexual and are subject to the same types of discrimination, hence the wider LGBT group has been used to ensure no exclusion by organizations that work for equal rights.

Now I will acknowledge overlap in the terms "gay" and "lesbian", but I believe the purpose of this is because lesbians, while equal partners in the gay community, also need to be recognized separately in some instances, for example with respect to women's health issues.

I'm not sure what has caused you to conclude LGBT is some code word used to avoid saying homosexual, but I can assure you that's not accurate.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 29, 2012 at 6:02 p.m. ― 4 years, 12 months ago

Laplaya, thanks for posting the lik for the Filner interview regarding his toe on DOMA.

It's important, it was part of his reord, and I'm glad is is questioned on it. But it was a long time ago, and since then Mr. Filner has supported the LGBT community.

I also appreciate that Mr. Filner flat out admits it was wrong and he regrets the vote.

Many times politicians will try to justify votes they aren't proud of with all kinds of excuses, but Filner is not playing that game. He admits outright that he regrets it and doesn't make excuses.

I seriously doubt Dumanis or DeMaio would have not voted for DOMA if they had been in Congress at that time, they both seem to pander to the right wing.

Where were these who during the Prop 8 nightmare?

Two prominent local conservatives who could have been outspoken against prop 8 and maybe even influenced some of their conservative allies instead tried to his from the issue.

Bonnie even quietly married her partner during the prop 8 firestorm, quietly scurrying to Santa Barbara for a private ceremony that was barely mentioned in the media. She should have taken her partner by the hand and come out and given a public plea to her mainly conservative followers to vote no on prop 8 but instead she didn't want to rock the boat. I think this says something about her character and her nature.

And now it's rumored Papa Manchester has fingered DeMaio as his choice for mayor. DeMaio may be gay, but he certainly has no problem aligning himself with known homophones if he thinks is will further his political aspirations.

Both DeMaio and Dumanis have no problem going on hate right wing radio and pandering to radio hosts who are known for their homophobic remarks.

Everything considered, including the DOMA vote, Mr. Filner still has the most consistent record in upholding GLBT rights.

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