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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Mayoral Candidates Make Bold Statements During School-Sponsored Debate

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized Councilman Carl DeMaio's views on asking people their immigration status. He believes only those already detained for other offenses should be eligible to have their immigration status reviewed. KPBS regrets the error.

San Diego’s mayoral candidates went back to school today. They attended a debate sponsored by La Jolla Country Day and the Pruess School.

San Diego’s mayoral candidates went back to school today. They attended a debate sponsored by La Jolla Country Day and the Pruess School.

Special Feature San Diego Mayor's Race

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Students crafted some of the questions posed to candidates, and did not give the candidates a break. They covered topics from San Diego's relationship with Mexico to the Convention Center expansion to public safety.

Both candidates made bold statements, with City Councilman Carl DeMaio saying he believes if someone is already in custody for another offense police should be able to selectively ask people their immigration status, if it means they get criminals off the streets. However, he stressed local police should not act as federal immigration officials. DeMaio would not say whether he would keep William Lansdowne on as the San Diego police chief.

Bob Filner said he supports Lansdowne and opposes what he called racial profiling by the police.

The candidates also discussed pension reform, but did it in terms of public safety. When DeMaio said the city needs to increase police and fire staffing levels, Filner fired back that DeMaio’s plan to eliminate pensions is causing safety personnel to leave the city.

"You don't make sure all the cops and firefighters leave by saying public employees don’t deserve a pension or any respect as public employees," he said. "You have to honor and respect their professionalism and their abilities to do a job."

But DeMaio countered that his pension reform measure will actually help public safety in the long run.

"Pension reform is going to be a critical tool, a strategy, to free up the money so that we can put it back into the services," he said. "Mr. Filner has opposed those pensions reform proposals time and time again."

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