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DeMaio, Filner Continue Attacks, Mudslinging In KPBS Debate

Evening Edition

Congressman Bob Filner and City Councilman Carl DeMaio squared off in a mayoral debate at KPBS on Oct. 1, 2012.

Debate Questions

Want to see candidates' answers to specific questions? Click the links below.

The two candidates to be San Diego’s next mayor continued their tradition of mudslinging and negativity in a debate Monday hosted by KPBS and San Diego State University’s School of Public Affairs.

City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Congressman Bob Filner squared off in one of the many debates before the November general election. Sixteen debates remain before voting day.

Amidst the attacks DeMaio and Filner made on each other, they also found some time to answer specific policy questions, some of which were posed by community leaders and San Diego State University students. The candidates addressed issues including public safety, neighborhood development, pensions for city employees, the environment and the Convention Center expansion.

One of the most unusual moments in the debate came when Jacob Courts, an SDSU student, asked each candidate to name one thing his opponent had done that he liked.

DeMaio said he and Filner “share a goal” of increasing renewable energy and bringing water recycling to San Diego.

"You need a mayor who's going to be more thoughtful about the environment," DeMaio said.

Filner countered that in DeMaio's "250-page thing," he mentions the word "environment" one time. DeMaio's "Pathway to Prosperity" plan says "environment" three times, twice referring to "a strong environment for job creation" and "a more attractive environment for business." The third mention says storm water run-off regulations should be reformed "to provide a cleaner environment."

DeMaio’s “Roadmap to Recovery” plan says “environment” once—referring to San Diego’s “amazing environment”—but it also includes the word “environmental” three times, twice describing “environmental services” in the city budget.

In August, DeMaio released his "Clean Coasts 2020" water conservation plan, which says "environment" 12 times.

Filner then thanked DeMaio for his City Council vote to rename a Hillcrest street after the gay rights leader Harvey Milk.

DeMaio fielded a question from the debate’s moderator, Maureen Cavanaugh, host of KPBS Midday Edition, about his relationship with Doug Manchester and John Lynch, the owners of U-T San Diego and The North County Times. A KPBS/I-Newsource investigation last week found that Lynch wrote an email to Port Commissioner Scott Peters saying he had support from “one of the mayoral candidates” for his plan to build a football stadium at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal.

DeMaio said he was not that candidate and said he does not support building a stadium at that site.

"The U-T CEO mentioned that he got support from labor, and yet labor has not supported it, that he got support from business groups, but very few groups that are out there have supported the plan,” DeMaio said. “And so I just think that the email probably was making some claims that are not grounded in reality."

Filner said the candidate Lynch was referring to couldn’t have been him either, because he doesn’t know what Lynch looks like.

Because the City Council voted today to clear some of the last remaining hurdles in the path of the proposed $520 million San Diego Convention Center expansion project, Cavanaugh asked both candidates whether funding the expansion with a hotel tax that has uncertain legality was the right thing to do.

Under Proposition 13, any new tax in California must be approved by two-thirds of voters. City officials avoided that public vote by limiting those who vote on the tax to only hotel owners.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said that method “tests the boundaries of the law.”

Filner said this maneuver “would never happen in a Filner administration.”

“There should have been a public vote, and it should have gone into a public fund," he said.

DeMaio said Filner has supported “every single tax increase that’s come forward in the past decade,” but none would provide for neighborhood services, infrastructure, or creating jobs for San Diegans.

DeMaio said he told the hoteliers if they wanted the Convention Center, they would have to pay for it themselves.

“At the end of the day, it’s a win, win, win,” he said. “We get jobs in San Diego, we also get more revenues into the city’s budget to power our neighborhood services and fund our city programs.”

Cavanaugh then asked, if the courts struck down the hotel tax, what each candidate would do.

Filner said he would put the tax increase to a “vote of the people.” DeMaio agreed, saying “of course” he’d put the hotel tax to a public vote if that’s what the courts required.

Another question from Dalouge Smith, head of the San Diego Youth Symphony, asked each candidate what he would do to ensure Balboa Park’s centennial and the Plaza de Panama project were successful.

DeMaio said he would invest in the park using a “public-private partnership model where general fund tax dollars are not involved.” Instead of using the public’s money, he said the city should use money from philanthropy and self-financing mechanisms.

“Balboa Park should be seen as the Smithsonian of the West,” DeMaio said.

He accused Filner of attacking philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, who has promised to pay for a majority of the Plaza de Panama plan.

Filner said he was attacking DeMaio, not Jacobs.

“You said he was going to die,” DeMaio said, referring to Filner’s comments at the City Council meeting where the project was approved.

To close out the night, Vanessa Pash, an SDSU student, asked each candidate what he would do to ensure San Diego keeps the Chargers and “gets them the new stadium that they deserve.”

DeMaio said while it is an important issue, he is more focused on the city’s infrastructure needs. He said the city needs a public-private partnership to build a new stadium.

Filner also said no public money should be used to finance a stadium, and said sports teams “extort money from the public.”

“Under a Filner administration, there will be no more extortion,” he said.

Editor's note: KPBS updated this story to include more of DeMaio's debate rebuttal re: his plans for the environment.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 1, 2012 at 4:24 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Far left-wing Democrats Stuart Milk and Antonio Villaraigosa endorse fellow far left-wing Democrat Bob Filner.


At least Carl DeMaio has a broad spectrum of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans supporting him.

Just ask long time Democrat and major Obama and Brown supporter Irwin Jacobs.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 1, 2012 at 5:54 p.m. ― 4 years ago

CADefender, Filner is ahead by double digits.

DeMaio's spectrum of support accounts for a minority of the city's populace.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 1, 2012 at 5:59 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I hope Manchester, his partner Lynch, and their roles in Portgate are topics for tonight's discussion.

I want to hear what my future mayor thinks about this brewhaha.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 1, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I have a lot of respect for Toni Atkins. Frankly, who she endorses means more to me than Sanders' or Jacobs' endorsements and she endorsed Mr. Filner.

By the way, has Donna Frye endorsed anybody?

If not, I hope she considers endorsing Mr. Filner. She is well respected in this city and her endorsement would carry some weight.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | October 1, 2012 at 6:56 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Hi Peking Duck SD,

Former District 6 Council Member Donna Frye endorsed Congressman Bob Filner long time ago.

Bob has asked Donna to be a part of his Mayoral administration to serve as the Ombusman and Czarina for Open Government and Transparency.

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Avatar for user 'TJS2154'

TJS2154 | October 1, 2012 at 11:41 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Filner does not have support from his community in the South Bay, on Sept. 27 at the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce Meting, he harrassed seniors who simply cheered the next Mayor CARL DEMAIO. Filner needs to retire, he has served long enough.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 2, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Thanks, laplaya!

Tj, Filner "harassed seniors"?

Proof? Video? Sounds like another desperate attack by a DeMaio fanatic to me.

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Avatar for user 'lancastersfinest'

lancastersfinest | October 2, 2012 at 8:55 a.m. ― 4 years ago

Demaio's new slogan is "Getting San Diegans Back to Work." Meanwhile, his bankroll supporter Manchester buys the North County Times and lays off 80 people on his first day. 20% of the news room is now unemployed. I sure hope all of those people lived in Escondido. What a sham.

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Avatar for user 'TJS2154'

TJS2154 | October 2, 2012 at 3:28 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Peking Duck if that is your name, many people at Hometown Buffet including employees and my senior citizen parents who were subjected to the Filner persecution, we do not need videos ask the Hometown Buffet what happened . And ask the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce they saw what happened, Filner is nuts and SCARED my 78 year old mother.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | October 2, 2012 at 4:14 p.m. ― 4 years ago

This 'mudslinging' should be expected. Wouldn't be politics without it.

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Avatar for user 'AmerBuddha'

AmerBuddha | October 2, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. ― 4 years ago

I can't believe anyone would even slightly consider Filner for mayor. What a joke. Just look at his record in Imperial. Its arguably the most run down neighborhood in the city. And you want to vote for him? All he talks about is Demaio, he has no accomplishments to brag about in 20 years except he knows so and so, and he so stuck on this 'big bad business people want to take over'. He has no idea how business works and frankly, no idea what government's role is with a free- market system. He's clearly a socialist who thinks government can run the economy better than the private sector while at the same time government programs like pension funds have been the problem to begin with. It seems as if he has no sense how bills get paid. He wants all these programs and it never occurs to him that someone has to pay for it. He is higher taxes which will result in higher unemployment. It would be really scary to see him as mayor.
(Did you notice how his biggest fan was the 21 year old college student who wants the Chargers to stay? Then he even kisses her butt saying how he's such a big Charger fan.)

He would be destructive as mayor. He could very well ruin this city...

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Avatar for user 'lancastersfinest'

lancastersfinest | October 3, 2012 at 6:28 a.m. ― 4 years ago

... But Demaio is a well thought out, non-impulsive man with no intentions of getting in over his head so he can learn how to move further into the pockets of developers and step on the heads of San Diegans on his glorious path of self-promotion, right?

Demaio did us ALL a disservice by dumping $800K into eliminating Nathan Fletcher in the primary because he knew he was the best candidate. Now we are left with these two.


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Avatar for user 'local'

local | October 3, 2012 at 10:14 a.m. ― 4 years ago

DeMaio: “You said he was going to die"

This was disingenuious.
Sure, everyone, even DeMaio, will die but even if you follow the link, the Filner comment was closer to, "Or what would happen if Irwin dies?", referring to the possibility of losing access to the project's funding.

I would really like to support DeMaio because he's gay but I really don't trust him at all.
His solution to pretty much everything is either to gut promised pension obligations to support every project or to use a 'public-private partnership'.
Sure, pension obligations need to be renegotiated but this sounds a lot like the corporate raiders of the 80s.
And the problem with the ‘public-private partnerships’ is that private funds won’t come unless they have significant influence over the project which, as we've seen, seem to create roadblocks.

The best bet is to have Filner in there and force his hand to cut pension obligations.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 3, 2012 at 12:03 p.m. ― 4 years ago

"The best bet is to have Filner in there and force his hand to cut pension obligations." - local

Force his hand? He is a far left-winger entirely bought by the unions. He'll probably INCREASE unfunded pensions liabilities. Filner will make himself look good while magnifying the problem for the next mayor to the point this city may not recover.

Filner has a "kick the can down the road" mentality.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 3, 2012 at 12:31 p.m. ― 4 years ago

TJ, fine I'll bite - please, tell us, what did Filner do at a Hometown Buffet that has you so upset?

And might I remind you, speaking of showing disrespect to people, Mr. DeMaio is the one who was checking text messages and then got up and walked out on a funeral for a fallen policeman.

And THAT disrespect was caught on camera.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 3, 2012 at 12:42 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Local wrote, "I would really like to support DeMaio because he's gay but I really don't trust him at all."

I agree with you.

I would love for San Diego to have our second openly gay mayor (I say second because Toni Atkins filled in as SD mayor for a period of time).

I think it says a lot that Toni Atkins and Chris Kehoe have both endorsed Mr. Filner.

These are two prominent lesbian politicians in our community who I think would love to see San Diego with an openly gay mayor, however they are not one-issue people.

Many in the gay community realize that having a Mayor DeMaio could actually be bad for the gay community because his divisive politics and his meddling partner who seems to want a direct role in ruling the city would just stir up drama and bad publicity.

While Mr. Filner supported DOMA many years ago, he has since admitted that was a mistake and he has spent many years since then with an excellent record on gay rights, including fully supporting marriage equality.

He reminded us all at the debate of his commitment to the gay community where he expressed pleasure with the naming of the street in Hillcrest after Harvey Milk.

Compare this to Mr. DeMaio who is himself gay and says he supports gay marriage, yet he has taken money and endorsements from known anti-gay people like Roger Hedgecock, Doug Manchester, and Larry "Lysol" Sterling.


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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 3, 2012 at 12:45 p.m. ― 4 years ago

CA Defender, you keep calling Filner far left, but isn't DeMaio just as far to the right as Filner is to the left?

Look at DeMaio's past, he has ties to all the far rightwingers like New Gingrich.

He supports the measures and tactics being used by Scott Walker in Wisconsin, in fact he is so similar to Governor Walker that people have looked at his agenda and nicknamed it "Wisconsin of the West".

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 3, 2012 at 3:17 p.m. ― 4 years ago


Filner is a Congressman and Congressmen are NEVER moderates. They are born of gerrymandered districts which elect only the most extreme of the left and right.

DeMaio is a Councilman who is more connected to the needs of all San Diegans rather than just a homogenous group marching in lockstep as with Filner.

Also, DeMaio grew up in California, very poor.

Filner grew up in Pennsylvania, very wealthy.

I'd take a poor boy from SoCal any day over a silver spoon from Pittsburgh.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | October 3, 2012 at 4:19 p.m. ― 4 years ago

CaliforniaDefender, Californians don't judge candidates based on where they're from or how much money (or lack thereof) they were born into. It's about what they stand for and what they've done.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 4, 2012 at 4:14 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Yes they do and rightfully so, just like every other group of people on the planet.

Someone who grew up in a particular culture has a much better appreciation for that culture and way of life than someone who didn't. Is that really hard to comprehend?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 4, 2012 at 5:47 p.m. ― 4 years ago

So, ca defender, by your logic I assume you are voting for President Obama and NOT Mitt Romney?

Romney was born to far greater wealth than Filner and as never he to worry about money a day in his existence.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 5, 2012 at 2:55 p.m. ― 4 years ago

No, Duck. Where candidates are from, their policies, experience, and who's bankrolling them are most important to me.

I was just chuckling at how some on the extreme left will chide Romney's wealth, but pretend they don't see Filner's Rolls Royce in the parking lot.

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Avatar for user 'Willard'

Willard | October 5, 2012 at 5:07 p.m. ― 4 years ago

Pretty funny allegation by TJS, "Bob yelled at my grandma" but I did find a hilarious vid of Carl "leading by example" -

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | October 7, 2012 at 7:53 p.m. ― 4 years ago

CA off, Filner "far left"? The same Bob Filner who stood arm-in-arm with fellow congressman Duncan Junior against the implementation of a NAFTA provision last year??? LOL LOL LOL

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 8, 2012 at 8:18 a.m. ― 4 years ago

CA Defender: "was just chuckling at how some on the extreme left will chide Romney's wealth, but pretend they don't see Filner's Rolls Royce in the parking lot."

Maybe that's because Filner, despite being wealthy, supports policies that help the middle class like doing away with the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. He also supports labor and policies that help people in lower-paying jobs.

Romney, on the other hand, want to help only people who are exactly like him. A Romney presidency would be aimed at re-distributing wealth away from the middle class and into a small plutocracy of super-rich people like him.

Keep this in mind: both Obama and Filner support policies in which they themselves would have to pay more in taxes so the middle class can pay less. Romney, on the other hand, favors policies where he would have to pay even less at the expense of the middle class.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 8, 2012 at 8:23 a.m. ― 4 years ago

By the way, CA defender, I didn't hear Filner call 47% of our country freeloaders.

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