San Diego City Council District 6 Debate
Who is the best candidate to replace outgoing 6th District City Councilmember Donna Frye? We speak to candidates Lorie Zapf and Howard Wayne about what they would bring to the San Diego City Council.
Howard Wayne, candidate for San Diego's 6th District City Council seat.
Lorie Zapf, candidate for San Diego's 6th District City Council seat.
This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.
I'd like to welcome Howard wane, and good morning, Howard.
HOWARD WAYNE: Good morning Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Lorie Zapf, welcome, Lorie.
LORIE ZAPF: Thank you.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So I'd like to give you a chance, let me start with Howard, just tell us a little bit about your background and why you're running for San Diego sixth district counsel city.
HOWARD WAYNE: Of course Maureen. I'm a deputy attorney general for 31 years, I prosecuted the most serious crimes in the highest court in the state, and I protected consumers and small business owners from scam artists. For six years I've represented the San Diego City assembly. In doing that job, I rejected the perks of office such as a state car. I authored a bill that was the 50 law in the country to protect the public from beach water contamination. I'm also teaching at the university of San Diego. I'm running because I think it's time to stop the city from spending money it doesn't have because that just passes the buck onto everybody else later on. I also think we need to a serious pension reform, and to that end, as a counsel member, I will not accept the pension in the city of San Diego. Beyond that, we need to improve the job base in the city of San Diego. When we create those better paying jobs, people will be able to buy homes, buy goods, and that creates what we need to get protection back up. We have fire companies on brown out every day, and we're not as safe as we used to be. Over the past five years, 200 law enforcement officers have retired so we're not say. Those are the things we need to accomplish.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much. And I want to give you a chance to introduce yourself to the audience, law, bey tell us a little bit about your background and why you're running.
LORIE ZAPF: Thank you. Well, my husband and I founded a natural company, I have been in the private sector for the past 30 years, and I my husband and I founded this company right in our district. We grew it from our idea, we started with our first account, which was right here in San Diego, adventure 16 outfitters and we grew it to be an internationally distributed product throughout the United States and Canada. We were in sporting good stores, natural food stores, all throughout the country locally, whole foods, REI, trader Joe's, I know what it's like to create private sector jobs issue I've signed the front and back of checks, I've dealt with all the taxes, litigation, regulations, and I've generated sales tax revenue for our city. In addition to that, I've served as the regional director for citizens against lawsuit abuse, and I've worked with small businesses, trying to help them avoid abusive and frivolous lawsuits I've conducted many community forums, helping small business owners, and prior to that, I've actually -- one of my very 50 things that I did was to host and anchor and produce a KPBS local news in the San Fernando valley, and I did that, gosh, in the early '80s. So aye also been a news director, a broad cast journalist, and what I'd like to do is bring that experience to city hall, and bring the private sector principles into our city government in order to reform our pension, create cost savings with our city services, and really improve the quality of our life in our communities.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm going to ask you much more about what your priorities are and what your issues, that the issues you're running on are. I want to point out to the audience, Howard, am I right in saying you have the endorsement of the Democratic Party in San Diego?
HOWARD WAYNE: That's right.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Lorie, you have the endorsement of the Republican party?
LORIE ZAPF: Yes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is the biggest issue that you see in the platform you're rubbing on?
LORIE ZAPF: The biggest issue is the same city wide and state wide, it is pension reform. That is taking up the lion share of our money from the taxes that we pay, it's really leaving our communities and our city services -- we have got to get real, real serious about structural pension reform, not any window dressing, and as I'm going door to door, I'd say that is the number one issue people talk about. They're out raged with the pensions that just a few people are getting. So we need a fair pension system, and what's fair for the community as well. There's a lot of anger about competitive bidding are be blocked for several years. So we need to bring competitive bidding to our city services. And one of the things people don't realize, when you put services up for bid, most of the time, the city employees actually win the bid, but the taxpayers realize a significant cost savings. At the County, I think they put up 17 services are if bid, and the county workers won 13 of them. Across the country, the statistic is on average about 75 percent stay within the city. But conservatively, estimates show that we can save 80 million to two hundred million annually, I mean, that's significant cost savings. So we have to get serious about putting as many noncore, nonpublic safety services up for bid. Like I say on the campaign trail, our money's going into pensions not our pot holes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, Howard, what are your major issues in running for the district six seat?
HOWARD WAYNE: I've said from the beginning, you have to have pensions that are affordable and sustainable for the long-haul, what we have is not. The next thing I'm talking to people, and there's really hard times out in the district, people are concerned about jobs, employment. People are losing their jobs, San Diego has been something like a microcosm of the United States for years our country has brought more than one and a half billion dollars a day in the world market, more than that's sold. We deindustrialized the country, sent information technology jobs outside the country, and finally we ended up with plenty of paper that we're trying to sell. San Diego has to break out of this. I don't think all the entire country can recover at the same rate. We can do tremendous things in San Diego. We have tremendous assets here, universities, we have train employees, we have venture capitalists, we have as well entrepreneurial business people. We need to focus on creating products here and goods here that can be sold outside the area. I want to look at 21st century technologies, high-tech, green tech or the clean tech industries, biotechnology, and we are spitting them out from the universities right now. The next step we have to do is be sure that we take these -- the ideas and manufacture them in San Diego. That's the idea of creating good paying manufacturing jobs. That's the key to getting out of the hole we're in. I just saw a article the other day by Thomas -- and he wrote about the current recession we're in. Ultimately good jobs and scale come only when we create products and services that make people's lives healthy, productive, and secure. And we sell them to people around the world. That's what we focus on in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lorie, one of your major issues is reducing the pension responsibility that the city of San Diego has. How would you go about doing that?
LORIE ZAPF: What we need to do is get people in office who are not attached to the hip to the public employee unions. Willy brown who is, you know, a long time democratic leader of the assembly said it best. Here's a quote: We politicians pushed by our friends in labor gradually extend pay in benefits to private sector levels while keeping job protection, and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay former workers almost as much as current. And he said we have to get serious about the fact that 80 percent of our current state budget are due to employee costs. And what we need are people like myself who believe in real structural reform of our pension system, not my opponent who actually voted when he was in the assembly for dramatic pension increases. And also, incredibly for himself, he increased his own pension to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of his retirement. So we need someone who is from the private sector, who really wants to take on these pensions and bring on a real reform. My opponent has a 95 percent lifetime voting record with the public employee unions, we need somebody who is not connected with the public employee unions who can work strictly for the taxpayers and do what's fair for the community.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me give you a chance to respond to that Howard.
HOWARD WAYNE: Well, the answer, of course, is we need to have pension reform in San Diego. We need to look at the ages people retire. Frankly, the ages were set too low because people didn't live as long as they do now. We have to look at the percentages they're getting when they retire, and that's important also. My opponent's already gone on negatively by attacking me this morning. Let me tell you about employee organizations, I'm glad to have the support of public employee and private employee organizations, but I call them as I see them. Earlier this year, the council put forth, labor council put forth a proposal to impose term limits for the board of supervisors, I opposed that. Earlier this year, some of the unions opposed a strong merit form of government, I support the strong merit form of government, and I spoke up that way. Sometimes they are supporting Proposition D, the sales tax increase, I'm oppose you go Proposition D. So I call them as I see them. What I did in terms of a legislation bill 11 years ago, what my opponent doesn't point out is that my pension was the same the day I came out as when I went in that this was a bill that had overwhelmingly bipartisan support, surpassed by substantial margins in both house, in fact in one house unanimously. And by serving in the assembly, I reduced my pension by $19,000 a year, or as they calculated, $380,000. And I'm gonna keep up that public services because I'm not going to accept the pension of the city of San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Both of you, I think, both of you do not support Proposition D, the sales tack increase.
HOWARD WAYNE: Correct.
LORIE ZAPF: Yes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, then Lorie, would you therefore vote, if you were on the city council, to decrease public safety, fire and police protection if there was not enough money to be able to close the budget deficit. I'm sorry, I couldn't think. Close the budget deficit of third million dollars a year, the deficit that the city of San Diego has.
LORIE ZAPF: What I find incredulous, is that the very reason for government's existence, the very reason we pay for public safety, infrastructure, park and Rec, are the first things we cut and slash dramatically. So instead of making the hard decisions years ago to do structural, real pension reform, rolling back the types of benefits that my opponent voted in, what we're doing is kicking the can down the road, blocking for years management competition, we would not be in this predicament had we implemented years ago, the proposition of manage competition. So we're not looking at the cutting the nonvital services. Instead we're always looking at cutting the very reason for its existence, so no, we have to bring back more police officers, we should not be shutting down our rec centers, we should not be shutting down fire, we should be looking at golf course operations and landfill, and landscaping and all these other that have been identified and are being done successfully all over the country. We need to bring best practices here to San Diego. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, and we need to right size our government. That's something I hear all the time. We've taken on too much. What we need to do is focus on the vital services, do it well, and let go of the things that we should not be in. The county did with this landfill operation. Even Los Angeles is saying that we need to -- they need to, like all governments, we need to focus back on our priorities and look at better ways, and cost efficiencies of doing our noncore services.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Howard, what would you be prepared to cut in order to chose that budget gap.
HOWARD WAYNE: Well, 50 of all, my opponent didn't answer the question, you posed, she simply has a pollyanic view of the world. In fact, we are going to manage competition. And the council has already approved it, and that's going to happen. I think it's time we be very honest with the voters. And mayor Sanders is doing exactly that. I'm proposing what I think will happen if Proposition D fails, and I think it will fail. I'm I prosecutor, I believe unless we are safe in our homes and streets, nothing else is possible. So public safety, firefighting, please protection, has to have a highest priority. It is also approximately 55 percent of the billion. So what the mayor has proposed is that the smallest cuts be applied to public safety. And that the other cuts, larger cuts have to be applied elsewhere. We are not going through an easy time. I kind of sometimes think there are three ways of approaching this spending in government. One is we want low taxes and we'll accept low levels of services. One is somebody else might say higher taxes, and higher services. Then my opponent says, higher services, lower taxes. It doesn't make sense.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, I wanted to ask you, Lorie, there's been some concerns that you made in 2006 in an e-mail that you wanted to keep homosexuals out of public office. I know that you have renounced those comments. I wonder if elected though, would you sign proclamations for gay pride events as other council members do?
LORIE ZAPF: That's a community -- if that's a, you know, a community -- I'd have to see the proclamation, but you know, I would definitely consider any proclamation that the community is in favor of. Absolutely. This has been really blown way out of proportion, when I had my health food business, I hired gays openly, gay people in my business. I've supported many gays for public office. And I judge people on their positions, their ability to do a job, and, you know, I understand that, you know, in a campaign, people bring things up over and over. But you know, I look forward to representing all the constituents, and you know, if it's something in the community that people want, you know, absolutely.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And would you like to respond to that Howard?
HOWARD WAYNE: Yes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is your support for the gay community.
HOWARD WAYNE: Well, let me say in that famous 2006 exchange of e-mails, my opponent says quote, I do believe homosexuality is a sin, I believe they all live in sin, and frankly are all very unhappy people in the head. Unquote. My opponent has had numerous chances to repudiate that today. So I'm gonna ask her today, do you still believe homosexuality is a sin, Lorie?
LORIE ZAPF: I'm not gonna engage Mr. Wayne, he keeps bringing up social issues because he keeps running running running from his record, and what people care about right now in the city are jobs jobs and jobs. And when he had the opportunity to help create jobs in the state assembly, he did the exact opposite. He was rated business not friendly by the California Chamber of Commerce. He is the reason that we have his -- his votes are the reason we have such a hostile business environment here in California, and businesses are leaving like crazy. He calls himself a prosecutor, yet when he had the chance to actually help our community as far as public safety, he chose to do the opposite. He actually showed up on the day when all of these crime bills were being looked at, and he refused to vote on bills that would have created an Internet directory for sex offenders, made tougher penalties for indecent exposure near schools, to increase penalties for recruiting gang members, extending prison times for serious felonies, parole violators for serious penalties. He showed up and got his per diem, and he refused to vote on bills that would bring more public safety to our community.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So Lorie, one of the issues --
HOWARD WAYNE: We gave her a chance to answer again on whether or not he believes homosexuality is a sin, and again she's refused to answer. Let me follow up. I've been a prosecutor for 31 years, my opponent has no experience with law enforcement. Ordinarily it would be absurd for her to make charges against me in law enforcement issues, but it's more devious than that. This is the Carl rove school of politics, that tries to go after an opponent's strongest point and under mine it. I point out practice the problems with some of these bills are. In one case, the Department of Justice expressed grave reservations about the bill. Rather than going into the details of the bill, let me show you, and I will read it to the audience, I received this certificate from the California district attorneys' association, people who prosecute the crime, and it said that in recognition of your dedication to criminal justice, as a member of the California state assembly, quote, your tenacious and steadfast support of legislation promoting interest of public safety have improved the lives of all Californians. Lorie, what do you have?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay, Howard, let me ask you a question that has kind of dogged you a bit, and that is, you used to be a rather vocal opponent of managed competition and outsourcing and now you've kind of changed your mind on that. Why is that?
HOWARD WAYNE: Well, first of all, I've never said that we don't follow the law, the law is what the law is, in every public forum, I've said we have to do that. What does the law provide? One, there has to be a finding by the mayoral council that there will be an actual savings to the public. And number two, there has to be a finding that there will be no reduction in the quality of services. This point supported, I believe that when we do have money -- my opponent on the other side, in one debate said, about managed competition, quote, we shouldn't worry about San Diego getting screwed by bad contracts, unquote. Now, there she is advocating the very responsibility our charter has put in the hands of council members to be sure that we are getting -- taxpayers pockets are not getting paid.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lorie let me give you a chance to respond.
LORIE ZAPF: He's taken things grossly out of context, his whole campaign has been a gross disorganization of his own record, my record, and everything. What I meant was we have a wonderful city attorney and a great staff of attorneys that could write good contracts. Again, cities and counties across the country are doing these services well. They have good contracts, obviously in place. They worked out the kinks. You always hear, oh, well, this one didn't work, and so it's gonna happen here. Of course, in our lives everywhere, something doesn't work. Los Angeles out sourced all its janitorial services and yeah, they had some problems at first. But they've worked it out. All I was saying was we have a great city attorney staff, there's contracts out there working issue let's use those and not worry about that one thing might not work some time.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are just about out of time, and I want to give you both a clear and final statement about why you're running and why voters should vote for you. And so, Howard, since you began this conversation, let me start Lorie.
LORIE ZAPF: Well, like I said in the beginning, I mean, what we need right now is a city government that is a smaller footprint that's responsive to the business community. We need job creation, private sector job creation to brick in the sales tax revenue that we need to support our community services. I'm the one with that experience. And so you know, the private sector right now needs help. And I believe I'm the best candidate qualified to do that. I understand that he's been a prosecutor for many years, but he's worked for the state government his entire career. We need new, fresh, innovative ways to solve our city a problems. And so I believe I'm the best candidate as far as what is needed at this time and in this place right now in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you. That's Lorie Zapf, and Howard wane.
HOWARD WAYNE: My opponent just said that inexperience in office is the best qualification for government. Let me tell you, she's wrong. We're going through some difficult times and we're gonna face real challenges. I'm going to bring to this office real experience in solving problems. I've authored key legislation that has protected the public. The question we're going to have here is the best of who is the best judgment -- we need to figure out who is going to be able to exercise the best judgment. I'm bringing to this a solid record of achievement, I have the issue in this race, should we elect a candidate with real experience and who can solve the problems and with good judgment, or should we elect Mrs. Zapf?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to thank you both so much for speaking with us today. I know this is a hard fought campaign. And thank you both. I've been speaking with Howard wane, and Lorie Zapf, the candidates for district six in the city of San Diego. If you would like to comment, please go on-line, KPBS.org, slash These Days. Coming up, we'll hear from the candidates of city council district eight, as These Days continues here on KPBS.