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Incumbent Elliott, Briggs To Fight For San Diego City Attorney In November

Mara Elliot speaking to KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen at Golden Hall on Mar. 3, ...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: Mara Elliot speaking to KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen at Golden Hall on Mar. 3, 2020.

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UPDATE: 10:49 a.m., March 4, 2020

City Attorney Mara Elliott, the only city official seeking reelection, easily advanced to the November runoff, in which she will face attorney Cory Briggs, who founded Briggs Law Corporation in 2002.

Original story:

In the race for city attorney, two legal experts are challenging incumbent Mara Elliott, each bringing their own ideas for representing the City of San Diego.

Transparency advocate Cory Briggs and Peter Mesich, a former deputy city attorney, are calling for more openness and community outreach from the city attorney’s office. Elliott, however, is confident the successes of her first term, especially in the arena of firearm safety, will sway voters to re-elect her.

In addition to reviewing contracts and advising city officials, Elliott said she would spend her second term fighting for more accountability for elderly care facilities.

Briggs, a private attorney who's been involved in dozens of lawsuits against the city, said if he wins the office, he’ll hold monthly public meetings to hear from residents.

Mesich said he would work to better understand the needs of individual neighborhoods throughout San Diego and train deputy city attorneys on racial bias.

Both Briggs and Mesich have criticized Elliott for approving a $30 million contract in 2017 with General Electric for energy-efficient streetlights even though she owns GE stock. They maintain that Elliott should have recused herself from the contract approval process.

Elliott, however, said she is clear of all conflicts of interests. She said she owns $18,000 in GE stock that will help pay for her children’s college educations. She maintained that state law permitted her to review the contract.

Briggs and Mesich also have concerns about surveillance cameras installed on city streetlights, which has happened on Elliott’s watch. They said the city attorney should have better scrutinized how third-parties could use the data collected by the cameras.

Elliott said the data would solely be owned by the City of San Diego and that her office is open to hear the community’s concerns about privacy.

Briggs has also faced scrutiny. In 2015, the investigative news outlet inewsource, a partner of KPBS, published a series of stories that uncovered irregularities in both his legal and business dealings.

The two top vote-getters in the March primary will head to a runoff election in November.

Election 2020 news coverage

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