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A Dance With Non-Profits On Stage At The Old Globe

Mayoral candidates tell debate audience how much they love the arts.

The four major candidates for San Diego Mayor have been involved in nearly a dozen debates. Last night they held a forum in front of the leaders of many San Diego non-profits and arts organizations to say how their city government would support them.

People running for San Diego mayor appeared in a forum at The Old Globe to talk about how they would support the arts and non-profits, if elected.

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At one point the talk took an unexpected shift into to how non-profits could support city services.

The four candidates wasted no time on stage at The Old Globe trying to convince attendees that they believed the arts were an integral part of San Diego’s quality of life.

Candidate and Congressman Bob Filner said the arts were core to the needs of citizens, and a healthy part of any “civilized” society.

“When I’ve been in Congress, we have voted to keep the National Endowment for the Humanities fully funded (and) the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Filner, “in the face of incredible anti-intellectual and anti-civilized attacks.”

One subject that came up was the use of local hotel taxes to fund arts groups in San Diego. Moderators Scott Lewis, of Voice of San Diego, and Gloria Penner, of KPBS, asked candidates whether they would increase the percentage of the taxes that went to the arts.

City Councilman Carl DeMaio did not say he would, but…

“I actually intend to double the funding for arts and culture during my two terms as mayor,” he said.

DeMaio explained this by describing a supply-side economic scenario, in which he would increase economic development by supporting business and cutting regulations, which he said would boost prosperity and raise tax revenues for everyone.

“If we grow the pie, there will be increases in funding across the board,” DeMaio added.

At one point the discussion diverted to where it seemed the candidates were no longer talking about government supporting non-profits, but non-profits supporting government.

District Attorney and mayoral Candidate Bonnie Dumanis cited the Library Foundation and the Balboa Park Conservancy. They are non-profits that have raised money for what most people would call city services.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher talked of encouraging local businesses to fund things the city can’t afford, like equestrian patrols in Balboa Park.

When Moderator Lewis asked if non-profits were being asked to support the city, not the other way around, the candidates backed off and said they didn’t mean foundations should pay for core city services.

“But I think the partnership with those in the business community and philanthropy is to help all of us and to make sure we can do those things we can’t necessarily afford,” said Dumanis.

The debate at The Old Globe was a little like seeing a Shakespeare play because you didn’t have to stick around to the end to know how the story would turn out. The candidates typically stuck to themes they’ve emphasized in many earlier debates.

But the call by influential local groups to have the candidates hold court with them will likely continue until the June primary, when voters will choose two candidates to face off in the general election.

Tomorrow evening, mayoral candidates will appear before people with an eye on gay and lesbian issues when they debate at San Diego’s LGBT Center.

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