Lightner Lashes Out Against Ellis Campaign’s Claims
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Aired 11/2/12 on KPBS News.
The Democrats on the San Diego City Council came out strongly today in defense of Councilwoman Sherri Lightner. Lightner is running for re-election and the race is getting heated.
SAN DIEGO Councilwoman Sherri Lightner and four of her colleagues accused her opponent in next Tuesday's election of lying about her in recent campaign mailers.
At a news conference, they said claims from the Ray Ellis campaign that her votes handed $28 million in bonuses to city employees, will take a $500,000 pension and abused a road resurfacing program were lies.
"The Ellis campaign has been misleading, and they have been inaccurate, and continues to send out mail information to the voters that is blatantly false,'' Council President Tony Young said. "I just have to tell you that I'm disgusted with it -- all of us here are -- and we're going to continue to advocate for people who service the public with good, honest work ethic.''
The $28 million bonus claim "was outrageous to us'' because that decision took place before Lightner took office, he said. A "fact check'' by voiceofsandiego.org found the mailer to be false.
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Young said Lightner has been an important part of the collaboration on the panel that has helped turn the city around.
Councilwoman Marti Emerald said she was "personally offended'' by the attacks, which she called a stab at every working woman in the city.
"He has been a bully, he has been a liar,'' Emerald said of Ellis, a businessman, philanthropist and former San Diego City Employees Pension System board member.
Lightner was the only council member forced into a runoff this year, and the result of her re-election bid will impact the balance of power on the officially nonpartisan body. Not counting her District 1, in the northwestern part of the city, the eight-member panel is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Her race will determine whether or not the next mayor -- Republican councilman Carl DeMaio or Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego -- will have a friendly majority on the City Council.
Lightner said the campaign showed how Ellis would perform in office. He created "a bizarre, alternative universe'' for pinning decisions on her that occurred before she took office, she said.
"There’s a difference between good, clean hits," she said, "and blatant untruths designed to confuse the voters and damage my reputation.
Asked to respond to the comments by Lightner and her colleagues, Ellis' campaign manager, Matt Donnellan, said Lightner had a chance to act on the issue in early 2009 and didn't and that she continued to approve tens of millions of dollars in bid-to-goal payments. He said she also voted to give 90 percent of water department employees bonuses as water rates climbed, touts having repaved 7 percent of the roadways in her district but won't take credit for including her own street, and signed up for an expensive pension.
Lightner said she plans to switch out of the pension system and take the 401(k) plan being offered to new employees under Proposition B.